ANC-AU STATEMENT: One Year On, Armenian-Australians Stand For Justice and Against Silence

By ANC-AU | Wednesday, 10 November 2021

STATEMENT: One Year On, Armenian-Australians Stand For Justice and Against Silence

The war never ended for Azerbaijan. We stand with Armenia, Artsakh and any leader foreign or domestic, who protects these countries’ will and right to remain Armenian.

Today marks one year since Russia brokered the 9 November 2020 Ceasefire Agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia to end the Aliyev regime’s 44 days of attacks on Artsakh, which saw thousands of Armenian servicemen killed and tens of thousands of civilians displaced as not even homes, schools and hospitals were spared.

The offending Azerbaijani forces, backed by Turkey and Islamist jihadist mercenaries, used suicide drones, phosphorous bombs and illegal cluster munitions against the peaceful indigenous Armenian population of the self-determined Republic of Artsakh.

The ethnic cleansing of these Armenians from their ancestral lands which were occupied as a result of this military aggression by Azerbaijan and Turkey, with associated Pan-Turkic pronouncements during and after this aggression, is a modern manifestation and continuation of the Armenian Genocide a century earlier. Indeed, one hundred years after the massacres of Armenians in the city of Shushi and desecration of the St. Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in 1920, ethnic cleansing of Armenians and desecration in Shushi was revisited.

The many violations of international law were orchestrated under the instructions of an authoritarian leader, whose family has ruled Baku with an iron fist for decades and continues to impede on the human rights of not only his own people, but also neighbouring Armenians. Supported by fellow dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who provided material support to Azerbaijan during the war, Ilham Aliyev used the ‘Two States, One Nation’ partnership to attempt the continuation and completion of the Armenophobic Pan-Turkic mission of their Ottoman forefathers to finally eradicate the Armenian people from their ancestral homeland.

One year on, the Armenian-Australian community and Armenians worldwide continue to relive the traumatic effects of the 2020 Artsakh War and subsequent ramifications of the one-sided 9 November 2020 Ceasefire Agreement.

To date, Azerbaijan has failed to return hundreds of Armenian prisoners of war (POWs) whilst reports of widespread incidents of abuse and torture in Azerbaijani prisons are emerging, violating the detainees’ fundamental rights under the Geneva Convention.

This week’s tragic fatality of a civilian worker while repairing a water pipe to Shushi was the latest in a long line, which includes the murder of three Armenian soldiers in Gegharkyunik and two Armenian soldiers in the Ararat and Gherkunik provinces. Overall, since November 2020’s ceasefire signing, Azerbaijan has killed dozens of Armenians and encroached further into ancestral Armenian lands.

The responsibility on the international community – including on Australia – cannot be overstated. The task upon the leadership of the nations directly involved in this process – including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, the United States and France – is to achieve a just peace. Nothing less will be acceptable.

To this end, the Armenian National Committee of Australia appreciates the several Federal and State legislators who have called out perpetrators Azerbaijan for their past and ongoing injustices. This includes the recent parliamentary statements made by Australia’s former Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon MP and Member for Bennelong John Alexander MP.

For their part, the Australian Government has corrected its previously unacceptable position on Nagorno Karabakh, by declaring their public and unequivocal support for the OSCE Minsk Group’s role as the mediator to bring lasting peace to this conflict. The Foreign Minister of Australia, Senator Marise Payne and her ministry has repeatedly affirmed that the right to self-determination, non-use of force and territorial integrity should be equally considered during the negotiations.

However one year on, the Australian Government has failed to publicly condemn Azerbaijan as the offending party who continues to detain POWs and destroy historical sites, ultimately continuing the war after it supposedly ended. Australia has also failed to call on Azerbaijan to exit the territories of Armenia proper, which are within the recognised sovereign borders recognised by Canberra.

Australia's reputation as an upholder of human rights and humanitarian values shouldn’t be surrendered in favour of geopolitical considerations with bad actors which harbour terrorists and violate the rules-based order.

Australia and the rest of the world must do better by the Armenians this time, and we pledge to demand better as a community made up of descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide. 1915 was the last time Ottoman expansionism caused the loss of a significant part of the Armenian homeland.

The war never ended for Azerbaijan. We stand with Armenia, Artsakh and any leader foreign or domestic, who protects these countries’ will and right to remain Armenian.

– Armenian National Committee of Australia (9th November 2021)