New South Wales Parliament Passes Motion for Genocide Memorial

SYNDEY–The New South Wales State Parliament passed a motion–on the evening of Wednesday April 29–accepting the establishment of a memorial within the precincts of the NSW State Parliament honoring the memory of the 1.5 million Armenian men–women and children who fell victim to the 1915-23 genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish government.

The motion was moved by John Watkins–(Member for Gladesville)–in marking in the NSW State Parliament–the 83rd anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide–and followed upon the announcement made by NSW Premier–Bob Carr–in his address at last week’s April 24 Armenian Genocide Commemoration by Sydney’s Australian-Armenian community.

The motion marked both the first anniversary of the passing by the NSW Parliament of the motion condemning the 1915 Genocide of the Armenia’s committed by the Ottoman Turkish–as well as calling for the establishment of a permanent memorial within the parliamentary precinct. It is envisaged that the memorial will involve the erection of an Armenian Khatchkar and a plaque upon which will be inscribed the full text of the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Motion unanimously passed by the NSW State Parliament in April 1997.

In his remarks to the Parliament–Watkins stated that erection of such a memorial within the precinct of the New South Wales Parliament building "will bring to the attention of all people who visit Parliament House the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide. It will serve as a symbol of the resilience–courage and spirit of the Armenian people. Finally–it will serve as a permanent reminder of this House’s determination to play its part in recording for all time the feelings of the people of New South Wales by placing on record its wish to rid the world of the horror of genocide."

Reflecting the bipartisan support of the motion–the Leader of the NSW State Opposition–Peter Collins Q.C. (Member for Willoughby) and mover of last year’s Armenian Genocide Commemorative Motion–also made a statement to the Parliament strongly endorsing the motion moved by the Member for Gladesville. In his remarks Collins stated–"Tonight this House is making a commitment–an historic commitment–something which has never happened in my experience in this Parliament…(The) unique privilege–which is bestowed by this motion–says a great deal–not merely for the Armenian people but also for this Parliament’s abhorrence of genocide and our recognition that genocide must be extinguished as a form of human behavior."

After being put to a vote–the motion was unanimously agreed to by the NSW parliament (Legislative Assembly).

In expressing his appreciation and gratitude for the decision taken by the NSW Parliament–Armenian National Committee of Australia President–Dr Tro Kortian stated–"The efforts undertaken by the Armenian National Committee of Australia over the last eighteen months–first to ensure successful passage of the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Motion in April of last year–and second tonight’s motion calling for the establishment of a permanent Armenian Genocide Memorial within the grounds of the NSW Parliament–represents an important step towards attainment of one of longer-term objectives–condemnation of the Armenian Genocide by the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia."

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