Federal Senators Andrew Bragg and Janet Rice lead a group of 16 prominent additions to the ever-growing cohort of the Australian Friends of Artsakh, helping mark the two-year anniversary of the network established to support the right to self-determination of the Armenian Republic of Artsakh, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia.
The Australian Friends of Artsakh was launched in August 2019, when the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) and Mr. Kaylar Michaelian – the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Artsakh in Australia – hosted a delegation from the Republic of Artsakh led by then-Foreign Minister, His Excellency Masis Mayilian and the Hon. Davit Ishkhanyan MP.
The network established under the #MOVINGMOUNTAINS catchphrase has grown from 40 inaugural signatories to now number over 70 prominent Australians who have all lended their names in support for the basic human rights and principles of self-determination of the indigenous Armenian population of the Republic of Artsakh, which is currently under majority occupation by the petro-dictatorship of Azerbaijan.
The latest additions to the group include Federal Senators Andrew Bragg and Janet Rice, New South Wales Parliamentarians Damien Tudehope MLC, Janelle Saffin MP, James Griffin MP, Mark Coure MP and Anna Watson MP, as well as South Australian legislators Joe Szakacs MP, Sam Duluk MP, Zoe Bettison MP, Andrea Michaels MP, Irene Pnevmatikos MLC and Tammy Franks MLC – the South Australian additions follow the Parliament of South Australia recognising the right to self-determination of the Republic of Artsakh during Azerbaijan’s latest invasion of the indigenous Armenian homeland in 2020.
In addition, recent signatories include former New South Wales Opposition Leader, John Dowd QC, City of Ryde Councillor Peter Kim and prominent former broadcast journalist, John Mangos.
ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian welcomed the new additions to the group as a signal that the Armenian-Australian community will never give up the rights of the heroic people of the Republic of Artsakh.
“Following their egregious attacks on the Republic of Artsakh last year, Azerbaijan has only occupied 70 per cent of historical Armenian lands, but has also broken international laws to desecrate Armenian cultural and religions sites while illegally detaining over 150 Armenian prisoners of war to use as political bargaining chips,” said Kayserian.
“These actions, as well as dictator Ilham Aliyev’s open and hostile Armenophobic attitudes to the Armenian people makes it an even greater priority for the Armenian-Australian community to build allies for the Republic of Artsakh,” Kayserian added.
“These new additions exemplify the Australian spirit and history when it comes to upholding human rights and justice and that Australia, like in the cases of Kosovo and East Timor, will not tolerate the endangerment of indigenous peoples seeking self-determination.”