Top Lawmaker Urges Australian Senate to Recognize Genocide

CANBERRA–Following meetings with the Armenian National Committee of Australia in Canberra, Senator for Western Australia Chris Ellison called on the national Senate to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide.

In what is a major development, the Armenian Genocide has been discussed in both houses of Australia’s Parliament within three weeks. Senator Ellison’s remarks Tuesday come after House of Representatives member Joe Hockey last month called for the Australian House of Representatives to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide.

“A number of senators and members would no doubt have met representatives from the [Armenian] community who visited the parliament this week… [and] …the issue of the Armenian genocide in 1915 is a matter which weighs heavily with them,” Sen. Ellison told the Senate.

This is a very important issue and one which needs to be recognized by Australia,” he added.

In addition, Senator Ellison brought to the attention of the Upper House recently-uncovered information of Australia’s significant relief effort aiding victims of the Armenian Genocide.

"What is important is Australia’s role, and in fact there was a thing called the Armenian Relief Fund of Australia, which operated from 1915 to 1929," Senator Ellison said.

“This relief fund of Australia provided humanitarian assistance to victims of the Armenian genocide," the Senator said. "These relief efforts became known as the first major international humanitarian project provided by Australia and set a precedent for continued support for areas and people in need throughout the world, and that is quite extraordinary when one looks at the history.”

The Senator, who is also a member of the Australia Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group, urged his colleagues to “acknowledge this as a matter of history,” because “bad things happen when good men and women do nothing”.

ANC Australia President Varant Meguerditchian, who led a delegation of colleagues along with visiting guest Raffi Hamparian of the ANCA, welcomed Senator Ellison’s advocacy and said it proves his organization’s inaugural Advocacy Week was delivering fruitful results.

“ANC Australia Advocacy Week is all about educating legislators about the reality of the Armenian Genocide and the importance of its recognition internationally,” he said. "Senator Ellison’s statement in the Upper House is the start of what we expect will be his integral involvement in our efforts to have Australia recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

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