Genocide Monument Unveiled in Australia

SYDNEY–Dedication and unveiling of the Armenian Genocide Memorial within the grounds of the New South Wales Parliament took place during an official ceremony held Friday evening.

Establishment of the Armenian Genocide Memorial follows the announcement made by the Premier of New South Wales–Bob Carr during a speech he delivered at last year’s April 24 Genocide Commemoration–where he indicated that he had taken the initial steps for the installation of an Armenian Genocide memorial within the precincts of the New South Wales Parliament.

This was followed by the introduction on April 29 1998 of a formal motion to that effect–moved by John Watkins–State Member for Gladesville–and subsequently passed by both Houses of the NSW Parliament.

The dedication ceremony was attended by the Premier of New South Wales–The Hon Bob Carr–The former Leader of the Opposition and Member for Willoughby–Peter Collins –Michael Photios–state member for Ermington–representing the Leader of the Opposition–Kerry Chikarovski and the President of the Legislative Assembly–Virginia Chadwick–John Watkins–the state Member for Gladesville– NSW Legislative Council members–Johno Johnston and the Reverend Fred Nile–and the Chairman of the New South Wales Ethnic Affairs Commission–Stepan Kerkyasharian.

The ceremony took place in the presence of Armenian religious leaders–representatives of all Armenian Community organizations in New South Wales–and two survivors of the Genocide–S. Krikorian and T. Panigian.

The Premier unveiled the Memorial which comprises of a brass plaque upon which is engraved the full text of the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Motion passed unanimously by the NSW State parliament in April 17 1997–and a traditional Armenian Khatchkar from Armenia–set in Sydney sandstone.

In his address to the audience Premier Carr revealed how his awareness of the experience of the Armenian people was fundamentally influenced by his attendance at an April 24 Commemoration evening in 1988–as well as by attendance at subsequent April 24 Commemorations–"Your Commemoration does have an effect ?We are here today fundamentally because of the impact that your commemorative work has on the thinking of people like myself and my parliamentary colleagues."

After underscoring how ‘fitting and proper’ it is that the Armenian Genocide memorial be situated within the grounds of the NSW Parliament–the Premier of NSW added–"The Memorial does provide for all those that visit Parliament House a reminder of what happened in 1915. I’d like to think that this State–this Parliament–has taken the lead in this acknowledgment."

In his address to the audience–the former Leader of the Opposition and Member for Willoughby– Peter Collins–who moved the historic Armenian Genocide Commemorative motion which condemns the Genocide perpetrated against Armenia’s by the Ottoman Turkish government–as well as all attempts to deny and distort the historical truth surrounding such crimes against humanity–stated–"I believe it is the first time this has ever been done–and I think it is a singular tribute to the Armenian people by the Parliament without abstention. ? It is a monument for all to see–it is a monument not simply in recognition of what happened to the Armenian people–although first and foremost it is that–but it is a reminder to all people of all time to learn and remember the lessons of history."

President of the Armenian National Committee of Australia–Dr. Tro Kortian–addressing the audience on behalf of the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee of Australia–expressed the Community’s appreciation and gratitude for the historic dedication–and applauded the moral courage and leadership shown by the Parliament of New South Wales.

"We applaud the moral leadership that you have shown in your resolute condemnation of the Genocide committed against the Armenian people as well as your condemnation of all the other acts of genocide that lamentably have been committed this century. ? Equally enthusiastically we applaud your emphatic denunciation of all the attempts that have been undertaken in the past and that continue to be undertaken today–to deny and distort the historical truth" said Kortian.

The ANC leader added–"I eagerly look forward to that day when the Commonwealth Government of Australia follows the lead taken by the NSW Parliament in declaring in an equally resolute manner–its official condemnation of the Genocide committed against the Armenia’s as well as all attempts to deny and distort the historical truth surrounding such heinous crimes against humanity."

The solemn dedication ceremony of Armenian Genocide Memorial ended with a prayer and blessing undertaken by His Grace Archbishop Aghvan Baliozian–Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand.

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