End-to-End Media Coverage of Sydney March for Armenians Calling on Australia to #EndYourSilence on Nagorno Karabakh

By armenia.com.au | Saturday, 24 October 2020

SYDNEY: All free-to-air Australian television networks, dozens of online and print publications and leading radio stations ran coverage of the March for Armenians in Sydney, which took place on Saturday 24th October featuring a Covid-limited 500 marchers and hundreds more in their vehicles, calling for an end to Australia's silence on Azerbaijan's Turkey-backed attacks on the indigenous Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

With the lack of accurate media reporting also a target for protestors, Armenian-Australians began their demonstration outside ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Studios and continued along blocked major thoroughfares across Sydney's downtown, primarily on Elizabeth Street, before ending with a program at Martin Place which featured loud chanting and speeches, as well as special performances from The Voice Australia finalist Masha Mnjoyan and Opera Australia soprano Natalie Aroyan.

Since 27th September 2020, both Armenian Republics of Armenia and Artsakh have been subjected to incessant civilian-targeted bombings and a series of war crimes, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of casualties in what is an impending humanitarian disaster.

Throughout their 45-minute procession through Sydney city, led by the Homenetmen Australia Scouts Marching Band and officiated professionally by New South Wales Police, protestors chanted "End Your Silence", "Artsakh is Armenian", "We Want Peace, Azerbaijan Wants War", "Stop Aliyev", "Shame Turkey Shame" and more.

The procession concluded at Martin Place, where the program began with a traditional Aboriginal Welcome to Country smoke ceremony by the local indigenous Australian community and a prayer by Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand.

Armenian-Australian youth leaders, Aram Tufenkjian, Anna Berberian and Hrant Boujikian delivered powerful messages in English and Armenian.

Armenian National Committee of Australia Executive Director Haig Kayserian spoke of the Armenian-Australian community's demands of Australia's political leaders, before introducing keynote speaker, Dr. Hugh McDermott MP, who earlier in the week championed a motion that saw the largest legislative chamber of the largest state in the country, the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, recognise the Republic of Artsakh and condemn Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression.

McDermott called on Australia to follow the lead of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, condemn Azerbaijan and Turkey for their aggression and recognise the Republic of Artsakh.

"Artsakh is Armenian," McDermott chanted.

The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Artsakh in Australia, Kaylar Michaelian delivered his remarks on behalf of Stepanakert, calling on a continuation of donations to the All-Armenia Fund Artsakh appeal through Sunday's Telethon, while two of the most talented Armenian-Australian vocalists, Masha Mnjoyan and Natalie Aroyan delivered emotional performances.

Armenian-Australians were joined by Assyrian-Australian, Greek-Australian, Tamil-Australian, Lebanese-Australian and Kurdish-Australian community members for the March for Armenians.

"We thank the New South Wales Police and all participants and non-participants due to Covid-limits, for assuring a compliant demonstration which projected our community's collective voice expressing discontent at the Australian Government's failure to condemn twin Neo-Ottoman dictatorships, Azerbaijan and Turkey for attacking the Armenian homeland and threatening ethnic cleansing and genocide," said Kayserian.

"Today, we said 'never again' to another genocide of Armenians, and that never again means Australia must stand against ethnic cleansing and genocide, dictatorships and Pan-Turanist expansionism. Australia must stand with democracy, indigenous rights, self-determination and freedom. Australia must stand with the independent, Armenian Republic of Artsakh," Kayserian added.

All free-to-air television networks ran coverage of the March for Armenians, each covering differing – and sometimes disappointing – angles. SBS, ABC, Seven, Nine and Ten News all featured the demonstration in their primetime evening bulletins, showing Sydney city draped in red, blue and orange thanks to the marchers and car convoy participants.

Online and print media also covered the protest. The Canberra Times, along with dozens of other publications, have carried coverage of the Sydney March for Armenians from the Australian Associated Press.

SBS Online also covered the demonstration also in a story that also featured an action by Azerbaijani-Australians, who hired an advertising agency.

"I am emotional, because like I said, it is not just a piece of land, for Azerbaijan it is just territory, but for us it is out heritage, it is our absolute existence," one protester, Melanie Tchakmadjian, told SBS News.

Armenian National Committee of Australia Executive Director, Haig Kayserian told SBS News: "Australia cannot remain silent and sit on the fence while Armenians are being murdered and their homeland is being ripped apart. It must act with the same humanity and resolve as it did when it came to the aid of survivors of the Armenian Genocide a century ago."

Russian video news agency Ruptly also covered the March for Armenians.

2GB Radio and ABC Radio ran coverage of the protest in their news bulletins throughout Saturday, featuring interviews with the Armenian National Committee of Australia.

This demonstration was the latest in a series of actions across Australia over the last two weeks, in CanberraPerth, and Sydney – the latter being two successive weekends of car convoys causing mass traffic congestion on the Harbour Bridge. There are also petitions calling on SBS to immediately stop broadcast of Turkish state media channel TRT and for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to join other world leaders such as President Macron (France) and Prime Minister Trudeau (Canada) in condemning Turkey and Azerbaijan.

On Thursday 22 October 2020, the New South Wales Parliament's Legislative Assembly condemned the attacks by Azerbaijan and Turkey and recognised the independence of the Republic of Artsakh, calling on their Federal counterparts to do the same.

The organisations who led efforts for the March for Armenians included the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia, the Armenian Catholic Church of Australia, the Armenian Evangelical Church of Australia, the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party, the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Hamazkaine Cultural and Educational Society Australia, Nor Serount Cultural Association, Homenetmen Scouting and Sporting Association, Tekeyan Cultural Association, Armenian Relief Society, Armenian Missionary Association of Australia, Armenian Dkhrouni Youth Association, AGBU Youth, Armenian Youth Federation and the Armenian National Committee of Australia.


Background on Australian Support

The largest legislative chamber of Australia's largest state, the New South Wales Legislative Assembly recognised the Republic of Artsakh, while condemning Turkey and Azerbaijan's attacks on the country's indigenous population.

While the Australian Government has so far played a bystander's role, public support for Armenia and Artsakh has been offered by Australian politicians at all levels of government and public figures, including parliamentary statements by Trent Zimmerman MP and John Alexander MP, along with the co-convenors of the Federal Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union, Federal parliamentarians Senator Kristina KeneallyTim Wilson MPJosh Burns MPJason Falinski MP and John Alexander MP, as well as New South Wales Member for Prospect Hugh McDermott MP, who wrote a scathing letter to the Azerbaijani Embassy in Australia. NSW Legislative Assembly Speaker Jonathan O'Dea MP expressed his solidarity with the Republic of Artsakh and Northern Beaches Councillor Vincent De Luca and media broadcaster Jon Dee did the same.

The Australian Greens political party released a statement calling out Azerbaijan and Turkey for their aggression, while the The NSW Young Liberals passed a motion reflecting a similar sentiment. Ryde City Council also released a message declaring solidarity with the Armenian people under attack, while the Greek-AustralianAssyrian-AustralianPontian-Australian and Kurdish-Australian communities were strong in their public support for Armenia and Artsakh. Another strong statement statement of support has been issued by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

The New South Wales Ecumenical Council, which comprises of 16 churches in the state of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, has released a statement calling out Azerbaijan's Turkey-backed attacks on Armenia and Artsakh while calling for diplomatic intervention by the Australian Government.

The Armenian National Committee of Australia have petitioned SBS and petitioned Prime Minister Scott Morrison, as well as lobbied the ABC and other networks for their unbalanced coverage of the attacks, as well as advocated for support from Government Ministers, including for an investigation into Australian flights made by a cargo airline owned by the family of Azerbaijan's dictatorship, which has past links to transporting arms and support to terrorist mercenaries in the Middle East.