WELLINGTON, New Zealand—The Armenian National Committee of New Zealand’s Advocacy Week was highlighted by national television and digital media bringing attention to the issue of Armenian Genocide recognition, through highlighting rock star Serj Tankian’s calling out of New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters’ reported appeasement of denialist Turkey.
Peters, who also serves as the country’s Deputy Prime Minister, released a letter to Members of Parliament reiterating New Zealand’s position on the Armenian Genocide, which was defining it as a “tragedy” rather than “genocide.” Leaked text of this letter shows Peters asked the Members of Parliament to consider this government position when “deciding whether to take up the invitation” from ANC-NZ to an event co-hosted by Green Party Member of Parliament Gareth Hughes.
At the event, Tankian – who is a New Zealand resident and the Grammy Award-winning front man of System of a Down – spoke about how being the grandchild of Armenian Genocide survivors shaped his life and his career.
In the primetime national television news story, New Zealand’s Newshub (Channel 3) chased Peters around Parliament seeking a response to the criticism levelled at him by Tankian and ANC-NZ.
The coverage also featured Tankian encouraging New Zealand to change its position on a very important issue of human rights, and stop kowtowing to a genocide-denying foreign dictatorship.
“There are dances around the word genocide, because Turkey does not want nations to use that word,” Tankian told Newshub.
Advocacy Week saw members of ANC-NZ, flanked by members of the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) and distinguished academics, informing a large number of New Zealanders about the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek genocides, and the importance of achieving justice for such crimes against humanity.
The delegation, which also included Dr. Panayiotis Diamadis from the Australian Institute for Holocaust & Genocide Studies and Dr. Maria Armoudian from the University of Auckland, met with bureaucrats and parliamentarians, before participating in the event that was headlined by Tankian.
ANC-NZ Chairperson, Hoory Yeldizian was delighted with the results.
“We were able to bring the issue of Armenian Genocide justice, and New Zealand’s incorrect positioning on the issue, to the epicenter of the nation’s politics thanks to our advocacy,” Yeldizian said.
“Due to our meetings, our events in both Wellington and Auckland, and the media coverage that ensued featuring Mr. Tankian and Mr. Peters, tens of thousands of New Zealanders, who were previously unaware of the issue, are now aware.”
Invited to deliver a Vote of Thanks at the event in Parliament House, ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian reserved special praise for Tankian.
“Serj Tankian is a titan in the defense of the Armenian Cause – always ready to lend his talent, his art, and his platform to deliver on a promise he made to his grandfather before he passed, that he would do his utmost to bring justice for the Armenian Genocide,” Kayserian said. “His grandfather was a survivor of said genocide, as were his three other grandparents.”
“We were honored to witness this champion of the Armenian Cause first-hand in Wellington, and we warmly congratulate our colleagues at the Armenian National Committee of New Zealand, as well as Member of Parliament Gareth Hughes, for advancing justice for the Armenian Genocide,” Kayserian added.