Australian Community Leaders Meet with Turkish Ambassador in Australia

SYDNEY–A delegation of Australian-Armenian community leaders including Archbishop Aghan Baliozian Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church, representatives of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia and Varant Meguerditchian, of the Armenian National Committee of Australia Thursday met with Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey in Australia, N. Murat Ersavci, to convey the Armenian-Australian community’s outrage at the recent murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Editor of the Istanbul based Agos newspaper, Dink was an advocate for freedom of speech, having repeatedly critisised Turkey for its mistreatment of ethnic minorities and Turkey’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide. After countless death threats, Dink was gunned down as a result of extremist behaviour fostered by Turkey’s political system. Ambassador Murat Ersavci refused to accept, after reading, a letter presented to him by the Armenian community delegation condemning article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code [defined as insulting Turkishness]. The Ambassador stated that article 301 was an internal matter which did not concern the Armenian Diaspora and further suggested that the Armenian Diaspora abandon its fight for recognition of the Armenian Genocide as it was harming relations between the neighbour nations. In response, the Armenian-Australian community leaders emphasised to the Ambassador, that Turkey’s political system had moulded its society into one that encouraged racism and nationalistic behaviour ultimately leading of Hrant Dink’s murder. The Armenian community representatives reiterated their demand that Turkey abolish article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, bring the conspirators behind the murder to justice and to accept responsibility for the Genocide of the Armenia’s in order to normalise relations between Turkey and Armenia. In a joint statement after the meeting, the Diocese of the Armenian Church in Australia and the Armenian National Committee of Australia declared that ‘The meeting was a success. Although the Ambassador rejected our letter, it was clear to the Turkish representative that the Armenian Diaspora is united in its outrage at Dink’s murder and the continued denial of the Armenian Genocide.’

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