ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian: We Reject This Deal, Lets Unite Only in Baykar

By ANC-AU | Friday, 04 December 2020

The full text of Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) Executive Director, Haig Kayserian's speech at the ANC-AU 2020 Gala is below:

"Always Was, Always Will Be.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Today, we stand here as the public affairs representatives of a broken Armenian-Australian community. An integral piece of the Armenian motherland, from where our ancestors derive, is under occupation after the Russian Federation brokered a deal as treacherous as the one forced upon the Armenians by Stalin during the days of the Soviet Union.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have signed a ceasefire agreement that would take the majority of Artsakh away from its indigenous owners, force Armenians to leave homes they’ve inhabited for thousands of years, and allow the construction of a pan-Turkic Highway connecting Azerbaijan with fellow genocidal Armenophobic dictatorship Turkey, through sovereign Armenian lands.
Since the Karabakh Liberation Movement of the 1980s and 1990s, there have been many deals proposed by world powers. Some have been entertained, even agreed to, by different Armenian administrations over the past three decades. But they have all been rejected by the Armenian people.

This deal takes the worst components from every so-called “compromise” proposed, and packages it up with the unacceptable presence on Armenia’s doorstep of forces from the Republic of Turkey, who continues to commit their predecessors’ genocide against Armenians by denying the crime.

Making it even harder to swallow is the fact that this agreement was forced on Armenia and Artsakh, after 44 days of war crimes by Azerbaijan, Turkey and Islamist Jihadi terrorists deployed from the Middle East. War crimes that included the use of illegal cluster bombs, chemical warfare in the form of white phosphorus munitions dropped on Artsakh’s pristine forests where people lay refuge, attacks on hospitals, schools, churches and civilian homes, beheadings of Armenian prisoners of war, open threats by Turkish and Azerbaijani officials of ethnic cleansing – they said a ceasefire can only be achieved if Armenians leave their homes in Nagorno Karabakh.

As these war crimes were ongoing, as the Armenian homeland was being ripped apart, the international community remained silent. Australia continues its silence. This international looking the other way has resulted in the ethnic cleansing of Armenians from the Armenian homeland, 105 years on from the Armenian Genocide. On the screens above, you will see carloads of Armenian refugees being forced to flee their millennia-inhabited homes because of the treacherous agreement that has resulted from these attacks.

Russia is to blame, Azerbaijan is to blame, Turkey is to blame, Armenian leaders will be judged by their citizens … But make no mistake, this deal is co-signed by all those countries who watched on as this resumption of genocide took place.

Our message to the Australian Government: Your signature might be in invisible ink, but it is not invisible to Armenian-Australians. You ignored the pleas of your own citizens to call out and condemn such military aggression. Blinded by your diplomatic aspirations with bad actors, you swallowed hook, line and sinker the threats and propaganda of two foreign dictatorships and granted false equivalence to the roles being played by the aggressors and the victims. You took half the blame away from Aliyev and his cronies, and placed it on indigenous Armenians being indiscriminately bombed, thereby enabling the butchers of the Caucasus to continue what they started in 1915.

We appreciate all those, some in this room, who have spoken out about this despite the Government’s culpable silence, despite the media’s simplistic false equivalence. We plead with you to continue doing the same, but with renewed vigour, as we begin a journey to pour ice on a deal that we do not accept. Let me be clearer, your Armenian-Australian constituents reject this deal! This is a deal that ignores the fundamental human rights to self-determination of our compatriots, whose democratic and legal expression of these rights in 1991 remains in force. This deal is one forced on our people under unacceptable duress. Once again for those in the back, we refuse this deal!

If anybody thinks we are here to cry and mourn, please reconsider. There is no time for that. We have an ancestral motherland to save, heroes to honour, people to care for and return safely to their homes.

And we will remember those who stand by us in this time of need. Our community has been broken for six weeks. This experience has united us like never before and affirmed the following: as a diaspora created because of a genocide that took the homes of our ancesors, our support for you will be ushered by your action against this occupation of the Armenian Republic of Artsakh. We will campaign and vote for only those who honour the right to self-determination and recognition of the Republic of Artsakh.

For six weeks, we have not slept. Budgets, interest rates, jobs plans, even Covid have not played a part in our thinking. This will all continue to be secondary until Azerbaijan’s occupation of our motherland ends. We call on our friends: we need your advocacy and this is what we pledge to demand on behalf of our community.

Now to our beloved community,

Do not be discouraged. Do not bottle your frustrations, your anger, your grief and your sorrows, and throw that bottle away into the ocean. That would be surrender. Swallow your frustrations, your anger, your grief and your sorrows, and let these emotions make you roar. Roar louder than ever. Roar that you resist surrender. That you stand with Artsakh. Stand with Armenia. Now and forever.

The idea of uniting around defeat is marketing talk for surrender. It is a line being peddled to us by the same foreign powers who sold our country to oil and dictatorships. 15,000 Armenians have died for #RecognizeArtsakh since 1988. We have no authority to surrender their sacrifice because we are being threatened that no surrender will mean more bloodshed.

Do not allow these bullying forces to silence the most important element that has ensured our survival: that element of course, is baykar. Baykar loosely translates to struggle, but there is no real English-language equivalent for this word as it is exclusive to the Armenian experience. Without baykar, we would not have survived the Armenian Genocide. Without baykar, we would not have had Sartarabad. Without baykar, we would not have an independent Armenia today.

Tonight, let’s recalibrate to baykar. Let’s recommit to baykar. Let’s redouble our baykar. Let’s unite only in baykar. Only baykar will deliver #RecognizeArtsakh. And baykar for the long haul is what we pledge to you as your Armenian National Committee of Australia."