Australian Government urged to condemn Azerbaijan aggression against Armenia

The New South Wales Ecumenical Council, representing 18 prominent Christian congregations across Australia’s largest state, has made a powerful appeal to Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator the Hon. Penny Wong, urging the Federal Government to condemn Azerbaijan’s unprovoked military assault against the Republics of Artsakh and Armenia, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

The letter, co-signed by NSW Ecumenical Council President, Rev. Myung Hwa Park and General Secretary, Rev. Shenouda Mansour, has also directly called on Minister Wong to appeal to the United Nations Security Council to support the Armenian people and the sovereignty of their nation.

The NSW Ecumenical Council also utilised the opportunity to once again call on the Australian Government to join over 31 nations and legislatures in accurately recognising as genocides the 1915 massacres of Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks by the Ottoman Turkish Government.

The NSW Ecumenical Council now joins the National Council of Churches Australia and the Uniting Church in Australia, which earlier this month appealed to the Australian Government to stand with the Armenian nation following Azerbaijan’s attacks on Armenia.

The Armenian-Australian community’s deep concern over Azerbaijan’s military aggression was raised by the Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand, His Eminence Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian at the Council’s latest Heads of Churches meeting.

The Council’s letter stated: “We understand from our member church, the Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand, that a ceasefire was established in 2020, with the assistance of the international community. On 13 September 2022 fresh military attacks were launched by Azerbaijan on the border villages and towns of the Republic of Armenia, a sovereign state.”

“This brutal aggression has caused hundreds of deaths and casualties of Armenian soldiers and civilians, forcing families to be driven from their homes. More than 40 square kilometres of Armenian sovereign territory is now occupied by Azerbaijan. Such aggression continues to undermine international efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.”

In their correspondence to the Foreign Minister, Rev. Park and Rev. Mansour also highlighted Azerbaijan’s attempts at systematic cultural Genocide.

“Moreover, Azerbaijan continues to eliminate the centuries-old Armenian presence in the area by destroying and vandalising churches, monasteries, and monuments of heritage and sowing fear and terror,” the letter read.

The ANC-AU thanked the NSW Ecumenical Council for their longstanding support of the Armenian-Australian community and their concerns for the existential danger being faced by their compatriots in their nation of origin.

“It is no coincidence that following Azerbaijan’s occupation of Artsakh, the Armenian nation is at further risk of yet another Genocide. We thank the Christian community in NSW, represented by the Ecumenical Council, who have not ignored the plight of Armenians, but are standing in support of our persecuted Armenian brethren,” ANC-AU Executive Director, Michael Kolokossian said.

The letter Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong expressed the concern of 18 church communities, including the Anglican Church, Antiochian Orthodox Church, Armenian Apostolic Church, Assyrian Church of the East, The Bruderhof, Congregational Federation of NSW, Coptic Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church, Greek Orthodox Church, St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church, Lutheran Church of Australia, Mar Thoma Church, Religious Society of Friends, Roman Catholic Church (Diocese of Bathurst, Parramatta and Wagga Wagga),  Syrian Orthodox Church, Church of South India, The Salvation Army and Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT.

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