NSW Treasurer and descendant of Armenian genocide survivors Gladys Berejiklian has attended the 100th commemoration service for victims in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, according to abc.net.au.
Ms Berejiklian is the granddaughter of genocide survivors orphaned during the death marches and attacks under the Ottoman Empire in 1915.
Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed at the time – a figure disputed by Turkey.
The Turkish prime minister said a ceremony will be held in Istanbul in memory of killed Armenians, but Turkey continues to outlaw the use of the word “genocide” in relation to the mass killings.
Ms Berejiklian said she was honoured to attend the service in Yerevan where victims have been canonised by the Armenian Church.
“For me it was a very important decision I took to be there, because of my family history, but also on principle to ensure that tragedies, that genocides, don’t happen again,” she said.
“The only reason that they will not happen again is that if we remember those events and acknowledge them for what they are.”
Ms Berejiklian said there was no conflict with her attending the service in Yerevan and the marking of the 100th anniversary for Gallipoli.
“As an Australian, I appreciate that important time in our nation’s history,” she said.
“I think that relationship we have with modern Turkey is so important and integral, but that should not stop us recognising what horrible acts occurred 100 years ago under Ottoman rule.
“You can respect the warm relationship with Turkey but that the previous government under the Ottoman Empire had a state-based policy against Armenians and other minorities.
“You cannot ignore history and accept those things will not happen again.
“If you do not stand up or do not speak up acts of genocide will continue to occur and that is something that I cannot have on my conscience.”
The Federal Government previously said it would not send an official representative to the ceremony in Yerevan.