Busloads of Armenian-Australians joined in the international condemnation over the extradition and pardon of Azeri lieutenant Ramil Safarov by protesting in front of the Hungarian Embassy inCanberra.
SBS Television and several radio stations covered the demonstration of the 250 members of the community, who stood in solidarity with slain Armenian solider Gurgen Margaryan, who was axed to death by Safarov during a 2004 NATO Partnership for Peace program inHungary.
Safarov was expected to serve a life sentence inHungary, however, was extradited toAzerbaijanwhere he was immediately pardoned by the Azeri government. Upon returning toAzerbaijan, Safarov has been treated as a national hero, causing fury in the international Armenian community.
The protest, a joint effort by the community’s Armenian churches, political, youth and relief organisations, strongly conveyed the feelings of Armenian-Australians, calling upon the Hungarian authorities to condemn the actions of Azerbaijian.
This message was conveyed with loud chants and signs reading “Punish not Pardon,” “Shame Hungary Shame,” “We Want Justice,” “A crime punished is a crime encouraged” and others.
During the two hour demonstration, Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC Australia) Executive Director Vache Kahramanian and Father Avedis Hambardzumyan of theArmenianApostolicChurchmet with the Hungarian Ambassador toAustralia, Anna Siko. During the meeting, which occurred to a backdrop of strong chants from the crowd outside, Siko was presented with a letter on behalf of the community calling upon the following:
1. The condemnation by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban of his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev for pardoning a convicted murderer despite assurances provided by Azerbaijan;
2. The condemnation ofAzerbaijan’s continued aggression and threats of war against theRepublicofArmeniaand theRepublicofNagorno-Karabakh; and
3. Recognition of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state to ensure the safety and security of its people.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Kahramanian addressed the gathered, stating: “Our issue is not with the peaceful people ofHungarybut with those officials inBudapestwho allowed the extradition of a convicted cold-blooded murderer.”
“We will continue to pursue the Hungarian authorities through the Embassy inCanberrauntil we receive a response which is not a response that the Hungarian government wants to hear, but a response which is just and correct.”
“Today we not only fight for the memory of an Armenian solider but as human beings of this world we fight for the dignity of all mankind.”
The protest received coverage through SBS TV World News, ABC Radio and SBS Radio.