Federal Member for Bradfield, Paul Fletcher stood in the Australian Parliament’s House of Representatives, opposite Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and called on the Australian government to signal “clear and unambiguous support for the protection of Armenian civilians and civilian infrastructure”, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).
Fletcher––who is Australia’s former Communications Minister and current Manager of Opposition Business in the House and Shadow Minister for Government Services and Digital Economy––delivered a Private Members Statement condemning Azerbaijan’s latest assault against Armenia’s borders, which he called a “grave breach of Armenia’s sovereignty”.
As a member of the Australian Friends of Artsakh network and signatory to the Joint Justice Initiative calling for national recognition of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides, Fletcher has long advocated for the concerns of the Armenian-Australian community in his electorate in the Federal Parliament.
The Armenian National Committee Freedom Award recipient became the second Federal Parliamentarian to rise in the Australian House of Representatives this week––following Member for North Sydney, Kylea Tink MP––to expose Azerbaijan’s gross violations of international law, following their most deadly breach of Armenia’s sovereign borders which began on Tuesday, 12 September 2022.
Fletcher said: “I call on Azerbaijan to respect the sovereign territory of Armenia and retreat immediately to the agreed borders. As a result of this military aggression, the Azerbaijani army has advanced up to 7.5 kilometres into the sovereign territory of Armenia along an 8.5-kilometre wide front displacing up to 7600 Armenians. This is a serious violation of the ceasefire agreement concerning the Armenia-Azerbaijani border.”
Fletcher added: “I call on the Australian Government to signal clear and unambiguous support for the protection of Armenian citizens and civilian infrastructure, according to international law and to signal Australia’s strong support for regional peace and stability and the protection of sovereign borders.”
Statements have also been delivered in the State Parliament of New South Wales by Hugh McDermott MP, Tim James MP and Rev. Fred Nile MLC, all of whom condemned Azerbaijan’s aggression.
“We thank Mr Paul Fletcher for his ongoing public support and principled stance in support of his local Armenian-Australian community,” said ANC-AU Executive Director, Michael Kolokossian.
“Our community expects all those representing Australian values of democracy and standing against autocracy to amplify these concerns by outwardly condemning Azerbaijan’s barbaric invasion of Armenia.”
“Earlier this month, our community joined compatriots worldwide in celebrating the 31st Anniversary of the Republic of Armenia’s independence. Yet the country built on the backs of Genocide survivors is facing an existential threat following Azerbaijan’s brutal invasion of Armenia and attempted ethnic cleansing. As such, we expect elected representatives to follow in the footsteps of Ms Tink and Mr Fletcher and hold our Australian Government to account for their deafening silence,” Kolokossian added.