Willoughby City Council condemns latest Azerbaijani aggression, calls for Australian recognition of the Republic of Artsakh

The City Council of Willoughby, Australia, has made a unanimous decision to condemn Azerbaijan’s recent aggression against the Republic of Artsakh, the Armenian National Committee of Australia reports.

The motion, proposed by Armenian-Australian Councillor Sarkis Mouradian and seconded by Councillor Brendon Zhu was adopted at the Council meeting held on Monday 22nd August, 2022.

The City of Willoughby is home to a large number of Armenian-Australians, and its Council officially recognised the rights to self-determination of the people of the Republic of Artsakh in November 2020 during the 44-day war launched by Azerbaijan.

AYF Australia Central Executive representative, Olivia Dilanchian and ACYA Sydney Chairperson, George Najarian addressed the Council Meeting urging Willoughby Council to once again take a stand against Azerbaijan’s ongoing acts of aggression.

Dilanchian thanked the Council for their consistent support of the Republic of Artsakh, stating: “This council is doing what too many fear to do, standing up for human rights, justice, truth and equality. Although on-the-ground peacekeepers called out Azerbaijan for their aggression in this latest attack, the majority of the world is silent. All levels of government must condemn Azerbaijan’s belligerent actions, for our failure to draw red lines around their criminal activity will simply lead to its continuation.”

Najarian added: “It is clear that the war never ended for Azerbaijan. Whether cultural or religious desecration, or military attacks, Azerbaijan will stop at nothing to remove Armenians from Artsakh. I am hopeful that the Willoughby Council will take a stand, guide Australia onto the right path and adopt this motion and condemn Azerbaijan’s aggression.”

The motion adopted directs council to make representation to the NSW State Member for Willoughby, Tim James and Federal Member for North Sydney, Kylea Tink urging them to advocate on behalf of the Armenian-Australian community in support of Artsakh.

James and Tink will be asked to call on Australia’s Federal Government to recognise the independence of the Republic of Artsakh, call on Turkey and Azerbaijan to respect the OSCE Minsk Group peace process, call for the release of all Armenian prisoners of war and condemn Azerbaijan’s act of cultural desecration in the occupied territories of Artsakh.

Councillor Mouradian spoke in favour of the motion, expressing the views of the broader Armenian-Australian community, and noted the importance of educating residents living within the Willoughby Local Government Area through such motions.

Following Mouradian’s remarks, Councillor Nic Wright thanked the Armenian National Committee of Australia for their advocacy efforts in support of issues of importance to the local Armenian community living in Willoughby.

Willoughby City Council is one of four legislatures across Australia to have recognised the Republic of Artsakh, along with City of Ryde Council, the NSW Parliament House and South Australian Parliament.

ANC-AU Executive Director, Michael Kolokossian thanked Willoughby City Councillors for their principled stance and ongoing support of the Armenian-Australian community and issues of importance to them.

“Our community is humbled by the courage and conviction shown by Willoughby City Council and thank Councillor Sarkis Mouradian and his fellow councillors for standing up for an Armenian nation once again under threat by genocidal forces,” said Kolokossian.

The full motion can be read below.

That Council:

1. Condemn Azerbaijan’s violations of the Nagorno Karabakh ceasefire agreement dated 9 November 2020, including Azerbaijan’s most recent offensive against the Republic of Artsakh on 28 July 2022;

2. Recognise the concerns of the Australian Armenian community regarding the continuing violation of human rights and international humanitarian law in Nagorno Karabakh; and

3. Recognise the local Armenian community’s appeal to their elected representatives at all levels of government to stand for the rights of the Indigenous Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh;

4. Write to local State member Tim James MP and Federal member Kylea Tink MP within the month to advocate to the Federal and State Governments to:

(a) Call on Azerbaijan to cease all hostilities and honour the Nagorno Karabakh ceasefire agreement dated 9 November 2020;

(b) Recognise the right to self-determination of the Indigenous Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh and the independence of the Republic of Artsakh;

(c) Call on the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey to respect the OSCE Minsk Group peace process for the Karabakh/Artsakh conflict, in particular the non-use of force;

(d) Call on Azerbaijan to release all Armenian prisoners of war remaining in forced captivity since the cease fire agreement dated 9 November 2020; and

(e) Condemn Azerbaijan’s desecration of ancient Armenian Christian and cultural sites.

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