Armenian-Australian Activism in Light of Attacks by Azerbaijan Highlighted by ABC News

By ANC-AU | Sunday, 04 October 2020

SYDNEY: ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) News visited the offices of the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) to cover the community's mobilisation in light of Azerbaijan's Turkey-backed attacks on Armenia and Artsakh.

The story, which also included members of the Azerbaijani community in Australia, continued the mass media trend of not properly identifying the perpetrators of the attacks as the brutal dictatorship of Azerbaijan's dictator Ilham Aliyev, who is backed up by Turkish air support and Ankara-deployed Islamist jihadists from the Middle East.

ANC-AU Administrator, Sarine Soghomonian was one of the many young Armenian-Australians who were interviewed.

"At the moment we have 30,000 people, particularly in Sydney, that are looking to us to lead them on what to do at the present moment, so that's organising protests, guiding them on how to use their social media platforms to engage non-Armenians in Australia," she said.

"[Our mobilisation is] as a result of our tumultuous history that has created the passionate Armenian that we've seen today."

Armenian Youth Federation of Australia Chair, Aram Tufenkjian highlighted that the losses of Armenian soldiers and civilians caused the community much "pain".

"For me, the main pain is looking through the list of unfortunate soldiers or even civilians that have passed away," Tufenkjian said.

The ABC article articulated: "This passion stems from the Armenian Genocide, which began in 1915. It is estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed under the Ottoman Empire" and pointed referenced that "Armenian National Committee of Australia executive director Haig Kayserian points out 90 per cent of the Australian diaspora are descendants of genocide survivors".

"The intergenerational trauma is always there, however after 105 years you can sometimes be numb to it," Kayserian told the ABC. "However, what's happening in part of the same Armenia that my family derives from, you just can't be numb to it; you do not sleep at night."

The story added that Azerbaijan's tactics of using social media for military action against Armenian civilians were a concern: "Mr Kayserian added many Armenian civilians caught up in the conflict were being warned not to post videos on social media for fear it would make them a target."

The Australian-Azerbaijani youth quoted in the article was Jessica Oyta, who described the military action as "bittersweet".

"This is a very bittersweet moment for the Azerbaijani community internationally because it's upsetting to see so many of our soldiers fall, but at the same time it's sweet because this is a long time coming," she said.

"Now that the military's moving in to try and take back some of this land, it's a very emotional time for a lot of Azerbaijanis who have been waiting for this for a long time."

All parties interviewed by the ABC agreed that the issue was not one between the communities in Australia.

The Armenian National Committee of Australia advised that, while community mobilisation and emotions were correctly represented, the article's lack of balance regarding the conflict was not reflective of their representation, and have taken the issue up with the ABC.

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