John Alexander, the Liberal Member for Bennelong, and Michelle Rowland, the Labor Member for Greenway, have both risen in Australia’s Federal Parliament to speak against visiting Armenian Genocide denier, Professor Justin McCarthy, the Armenian National Committee of Australia reports.
McCarthy, who is a well funded denier of the Armenian Genocide, earlier this week had two planned events in Sydney and Melbourne cancelled on the grounds of his unwelcome denialist views.
McCarthy spoke in a room at Parliament House on Thursday, at an event attended by reportedly only “two or three politicians” after the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC Australia) wrote to all Members of Parliament and Senators about McCarthy’s denialist views. Among the attending politicians were Laurie Ferguson and Mehmet Tillem, who had helped organise the event.
While this event took place, on the same day, MPs Alexander and Rowland made addresses in the national Parliament, unequivocally confirming the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide to a far greater audience of politicians, media and members of the public.
Alexander said: “… revisionist Justin McCarthy has used parliamentary facilities to promote his well-documented views questioning the systematic slaughter of Armenians, Assyrians and Pontian Greeks from 1915 to 1923.”
“The International Association of Genocide Scholars has discredited McCarthy’s work as selective and grossly distorting history.”
“ANZAC soldiers verify the Genocide as an irrefutable historical fact through their eyewitness accounts.”
“Denial of this Genocide is an attack on those who perished, those who survived, and their descendants.”
He added: “This institution should never again be used to express doubt over the scope of suffering experienced by the victims of a historical atrocity nor to justify these actions as merely part of a civil war.”
Rowland, adding her voice, said: “I can also understand the heightened frustration that many Australian-Armenians feel on this matter because of the venue at which this event is scheduled to take place.”
“My views on this are well known. I have joined in the past with members of parliament and community leaders from all sides of the political spectrum including the members for Berowra and Bennelong, and the New South Wales Liberal Minister Gladys Berejiklian, to recognise the Armenian genocide…”
“Australian POWs recorded the marches, the massacres and the complete destruction of Armenian churches, villages and city quarters. ANZAC servicemen also rescued survivors across the Middle East.”
“Today I acknowledge the tragic events of 1915 and affirm my commitment to never forget what happened to the Armenian people who were effectively eliminated from the homeland they had occupied for nearly 3,000 years.”
She added: “This week I noted a humanitarian plea to assist people in the Philippines who were the victims of natural disaster, and I want to end this speech by noting that Australia’s first major international humanitarian relief effort was in fact to help Armenian orphans from the genocide.”
ANC Australia extended their appreciation to Alexander and Rowland for bringing to light that Armenian Genocide denial, like Holocaust denial, is unacceptable.
Executive Director Vache Kahramanian said: “Mr Alexander and Ms Rowland are champions of human rights and champions of just recognition of the Armenian Genocide. We once again appreciate their support.”
Meanwhile, to ensure the support against Armenian Genocide denialism is truly bi-partisan, Greens spokesman on multiculturalism Richard Di Natale told the Sydney Morning Herald that the event should not have been held in Parliament.
“Justin McCarthy is a rallying point for those who deny the Armenian genocide,” the Senator said.
“The Australian Parliament should not be providing Professor McCarthy with a platform because that just lends legitimacy those views.”
“To deny the fact that genocide occurred is to disrespect those people who lost their lives and to cause further pain for those who lost loved ones.”