Prime Minister Scott Morrison Receives Letter Calling for #Recognizeartsakh from Armenian-Australian Protestors at Federal Parliament House

By ANC AU | Friday, 11 December 2020

CANBERRA: Armenian-Australian protestors descended upon Federal Parliament House in Canberra, delivering a letter that was directly handed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for an end to the Australian Government's silence on Azerbaijan's continuing brutality against the indigenous Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh and urging national recognition of the Republic of Artsakh's right to self-determination, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

More than one hundred Armenian-Australians from Sydney and Melbourne chanted #RecognizeArtsakh outside Parliament House, with Members of Parliament from the Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union (Friendship Group), John Alexander MP and Tim Wilson MP exiting the building to receive the letter, which included the following demands:

"We are protesting today, demanding our Government stands tall and raises its voice loud for Australian values and for fundamental human rights in its representation of us, its citizens. We demand that Australia calls for Azerbaijan’s return of Armenian prisoners of war, unharmed. We demand Australia calls for a stop to the cultural destruction and religious desecration being committed by Baku."

"We demand that Australia calls out Azerbaijan and Turkey for their Neo-Ottoman and Pan-Turkish expansionist policies that have resulted in the destruction of the Armenian homeland on more than one occasion. We demand Australian assistance for the 100,000 refugees and thousands of injured these attacks have created. We demand Australia calls for a return of all member countries of the OSCE Minsk Group to oversee final peace negotiations, with the right to self-determination and non-use of force as core guiding principles."

"Finally, we demand that Australia recognises the Republic of Artsakh as this is the only lasting solution that will bring peace to Nagorno Karabakh, and security for the region’s indigenous Armenians and to the volatile region as a whole," the letter concluded.

Alexander and Wilson personally handed the letter to Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison, his principal private secretary and his multicultural advisor, as well as to Foreign Minister Marise Payne and her Chief of Staff. The letter's content was also discussed with Prime Minister Morrison.

"We thank all those in our community for making the long trip to Canberra on a work day to ensure the voices of our brothers and sisters in the Republic of Artsakh are heard loud and clear, and they will be encouraged that our collective community's demands have reached the highest office in Australia's Government," said ANC-AU Executive Director, Haig Kayserian.

The protest included powerful speeches in solidarity with the people of Artsakh and Armenia from Kayserian and fellow community activists, including Michael Kolokossian, Mathew Mikhail, Hovig Melkonian, Alishan Ajemian and Areg Grigorian. The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Artsakh in Australia, Kaylar Michaelian also addressed the demonstration.

A few hours earlier, Australia's former Defence Minister and Member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon MP rose in the Federation Chamber of Parliament House detailing the reasons for the demonstration and calling for Australian and international recognition for the Republic of Artsakh.

"The community represented by the protests outside this building today rejects the ceasefire terms imposed on Armenia and Artsakh as a one-sided deal which ignores the fundamental human right to self-determination of the people of Artsakh, who declared their independence in the 1991 referendum in accordance with international law – coincidentally, the 29th anniversary of the expression of their democratic rights is tomorrow," Fitzgibbon said.

"The pathway to a lasting peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh region is international community recognition of the Republic of Artsakh, and Australia should support that recognition. In the meantime, Australia must be more vocal in its condemnation of human rights abuses in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and offer aid to those suffering."

The protest – being held on the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime – came at the conclusion of two days of advocacy inside Parliament House by a delegation from the Armenian National Committee of Australia and members of the Armenian Youth Federation of Australia (AYF-AU), who are spending the entire week in the nation's capital, raising awareness for the continued injustices being suffered by the indigenous Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh.

As part of their activities, the members of the AYF-AU have held demonstrations at the United Nations representation in Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian National University and outside the residence of the Prime Minister.