Australian Capital Territory Young Liberals recognize Armenian Genocide and Republic of Artsakh

The Young Liberals of the movement’s Australian Capital Territory (ACT) branch have passed a motion unanimously recognizing the massacres of Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks during 1915-1923, perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire as Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

The motion also recognized the rights to self-determination of the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh and condemned the recent Azerbaijani attacks against Nagorno Karabakh’s indigenous people as part of an ongoing policy of Genocide.

The motion was moved by Armenian-Australian and ACT Young Liberals Campaign Officer, Sophie Bjorkman. Her fellow ACT Young Liberal Lizzy Wheeler seconded the motion.

The policy meeting was held at the Eastlake Football Club in Gungahlin – only 20km from Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra –  where the motion was passed without dissent.

Sophie Bjorkman said: “We must pass this motion because it is vital that we consistently uphold Liberal values of freedom of religion and equality before the law, which were denied to Christian minorities under the Ottoman Empire.”

“I am hopeful that our Federal Government will take note of this move and acknowledge that Australians around the country are increasingly demanding they correctly recognize the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides, and stand with the indigenous Armenians of Artsakh.”

The ACT Young Liberals join the NSW Young Liberals, Victorian Young Labor and South Australian Young Labor movements in formally recognizing the 1915 Genocides, while calling on the Australian Government to do the same.

ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian thanked Bjorkman and all ACT Young Liberals for supporting the motion.

“It is great to see young politically engaged Australians, some of the future leaders of this country, taking a stance on important human rights issues such as the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides and the right to self-determination of the Republic of Artsakh,” said ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian.

“Ms. Sophie Bjorkman, who is a proud Armenian-Australian, participated in the Armenian National Committee of Australia’s Youth Advocates program in 2020, and was ready to move mountains with her cohort after two days of advocacy training in Canberra. Ms Bjorkman’s championing of this motion is her way of spreading the word about the injustices continuing to be faced by people connected to her lineage.”

“We thank Ms. Bjorkman and her colleagues for standing on the right side of truth and justice. We remain demanding that our Federal Government will have the courage to follow in your footsteps and recognise the first Genocide of the 20th century and condemn its continuation by Turkish-backed Azerbaijani Dictator Ilham Aliyev in his attempt to rid Armenians from their ancestral homelands in Artsakh.”

The full motion reads as follows:

I call on ACT Young Liberals to:

  1. Recognize and condemn the genocides of over 1.5 million Armenians, 750,000 Greeks and 400,000 Assyrians by the Ottoman Empire between 1915-1923.
  2. Acknowledge the connection between the Armenian Genocide and the ANZACs who witnessed and rescued Armenian victims, and told their stories to Australian media.
  3. Recognize the first major international humanitarian relief effort in Australia, “The Near East Relief Fund”, was in response to the Armenian Genocide.
  4. Call on the Federal Government to recognize and condemn the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides.
  5. Recognize the right to self-determination of the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh, and that the recent and ongoing attacks against the Republic of Artsakh by Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, are part of an ongoing legacy of Genocide and genocide denial.
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