CANBERRA, Australia—The Joint Justice Initiative – consisting of the peak advocacy bodies of the Armenian-Australian, Assyrian-Australian and Greek-Australian communities – have called on the Australian Government to reject a proposed visit by Turkey’s dictator, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek communities – who are made up of descendants of survivors of the Ottoman Turkish-committed Genocide and together make up 750,000 of Australia’s population – recently launched their Joint Justice Initiative with the goal of advocating “against any attempt by the Turkish Government to use the sacred ANZAC graves in Gallipoli (and access by Australians to those graves and memorials) as ‘hostages’ or bargaining chips in coercing or persuading the Australian Government in being complicit in the Turkish State’s denial campaign with respect to the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides.”
They say the reported trip by President Erdogan in and around ANZAC Day is “disrespectful to the legacy of our Anzacs and unacceptable to our communities.”
“It was only last year, following the Christchurch terrorist attack, that Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to return Australians and New Zealanders traveling to Gallipoli for ANZAC Day Commemorations ‘in their coffins like their grandfathers’,” said Armenian National Committee of Australia Executive Director Haig Kayserian.
“Now we are hearing this friend of ISIS, who has created a state of terror by arresting, jailing, or dismissing more opposition leaders, minority rights advocates, journalists, and academics than any world leader, might be a guest of the Australian Government.”
The Australian Hellenic Council’s George Vellis said Greeks, and especially, Cypriots feel the wrath of Erdogan’s expansionist policies on a daily basis.
“We cannot stand idly by as our representatives continue to offer legitimacy to genocide-denying despotic dictators, particularly one leading a regime that bears no resonance to the values we uphold as Australians,” Vellis said.
“The Armenian-Australian, Assyrian-Australian, and Greek-Australian communities, who have suffered from Erdogan’s continued denial of Ottoman Turkey’s Genocide committed against our ancestors, will continue to demand higher diplomatic standards by Canberra, and pledge to join with several other community groups in protest should this visit eventuate,” Kayserian added on behalf of the Joint Justice Initiative.
On February 25, over 100 Federal Australian parliamentarians, diplomats, departmental officials, political staffers, academics, media, and community leaders were treated to cultural performances, food, wine, and brandy, as well as the historic signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, which affirmed that the signatory public affairs representatives of the three communities were jointly committed to seeing Australia recognize the Turkish-committed Genocide against the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian citizens of the Ottoman Empire during World War I.