Australian political leaders to join streamed commemoration of the Armenian Genocide

The Australian National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, which will be premiered live on Facebook and YouTube this Friday 24th April 2020, will feature Federal and State political leaders, including New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Federal parliamentarians Tim Wilson, Joel Fitzgibbon, Trent Zimmerman and Kristina Keneally, as well as Shadow Treasurer of New South Wales, Walt Secord.

The politicians will offer their video messages of solidarity on the occasion marking the 105th anniversary of the genocide that saw the Ottoman Empire systematically massacre over 1.5 million of its Armenian citizens, and a further 1 million Assyrians and Greeks.

Gladys Berejiklian, who currently leads Australia’s largest state of New South Wales as its Premier, is a grandchild of Armenian Genocide survivors.

Tim Wilson, the Federal Member for the Victorian electorate of Goldstein, is also of Armenian heritage and visited Armenia in 2019 as part of the first Federal Australian Delegation to the Caucasus nation.

Federal Member for North Sydney Trent Zimmerman, who was also on that trip where he and fellow Members of Parliament paid their respects at the Tsitsernakapert Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, will also address the Commemoration as Chair of the Federal Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union (Friendship Group).

The group’s Vice-Chair is the Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon, who is also Australia’s former Defence Minister and current Shadow Minister for Agriculture, will also express his support on the occasion, as will the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Kristina Keneally.

Vice-Chair of the NSW Armenia-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group Secord, who is a prominent Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council and a visitor to Armenia, Artsakh and Western Armenia, will also form part of official proceedings.

The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU), who forms part of the organising Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee, welcomed the participation of some members of the country’s political elite.

“It is important our community hears from the representatives we elect to parliament, and witness directly how our grassroots advocacy efforts have built up a critical mass of supporters calling for Australia’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and more broadly, justice for the Armenian Genocide,” said ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian, who will deliver the Commemoration’s Advocacy Report.

The Commemoration, which will be premiered live at 7:30pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time) via Facebook and YouTube links that will be provided in coming days, will also include a Keynote Feature on Australia’s involvement in the Armenian Genocide, which was through eyewitness testimony documented by ANZAC soldiers and the country’s first major international humanitarian relief effort. This keynote will feature genocide scholar, Dr. Panayiotis Diamadis and author Vicken Babkenian.

Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings means this format will replace the commemoration events typically held in Sydney, Melbourne and other capital cities across Australia, which together attract over 1,500 attendees.

The member organisations of the organizing Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee are the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party, the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Hamazkaine, Nor Serount, Homenetmen, Tekeyan, Armenian Relief Society, Dkhrouni, AGBU Youth and the Armenian Youth Federation, in addition to Sahagian Sporting Club in Victoria and the Armenian National Committee of Australia Head Office and Branches in Melbourne, Perth and Canberra.

This event is held under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Armenian Catholic Church, and the Armenian Evangelical Church.

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