Thank You Jonathan O’Dea!

On November 18, on the floor of the New South Wales Parliament, the Chair of the Armenia-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group, Jonathan O’Dea, spoke about the breathtaking photographic exhibition in the Fountain Court of the New South Wales Parliament as well as the upcoming centenary of the Armenian Genocide,  reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia.

Below is the full statement.


Mr JONATHAN O’DEA (Davidson): Last Thursday, along with some colleagues, I attended the official opening of a photographic exhibition called A Journey to Armenia in our New South Wales Parliament House’s Fountain Court. The exhibition commenced on 4 November and will continue until Thursday 27 November. It showcases a number of photographs as an initiative of the Armenian National Committee of Australia and displays places and people of Armenia that have been captured on film by leading Australian-Armenian photographers Teny Aghamalian, Jacob Majarian and Nuran Zorlu. The exhibition celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the Armenian community in New South Wales. It was officially opened by the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, who is the Deputy Liberal Leader and Minister for Transport, and was attended by more than 100 distinguished guests, including members of Parliament.

One of the photographers, Mr Nuran Zorlu, lives in Frenchs Forest in my electorate of Davidson and I have met him a number of times. He has captured some breathtaking photographs of historic sites and majestic landscapes. His outstanding work is part of this insightful exhibition and reveals some spectacular scenes from this landlocked European country. Mr Zorlu is well qualified for this exhibition, not only through his ethnic background but also as a respected commercial photographer. He is well known as a judge, educator and curator in the Australian photographic industry. He also is currently working on documenting sites of cultural significance in Armenia, Turkey and Iran.

Last year I visited Armenia when I led a parliamentarian delegation as Chair of the Armenia-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group and saw some of those amazing and historic sites firsthand. Nuran has been able to capture through his lens a taste of Armenia. I am pleased that his work is displayed in Parliament House. I encourage anyone who has not seen the exhibition to take a close look at all three artists’ work that is displayed around the Fountain Court. Next April, just prior to Australians commemorating the Centenary of Anzac Day, Armenians will commemorate the centenary of the Armenian genocide. This will be noted particularly by the various Armenian groups, including the Armenian National Committee of Australia [ANC]. At the opening of the exhibition, Mr Vache Kahramanian, who is the ANC’s Australian Executive Director, said:

I would not only like to dedicate this exhibition to the memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide, but also to those who have stood on the side of truth and justice. The New South Wales Parliament has been one of the shining beacons in humanity’s quest to recognise this abhorrent crime against humanity.

This statement reflects that New South Wales was the first Australian Legislature to recognise the Armenian genocide in April 1997—a recognition that it reconfirmed in a motion this year. Last month, along with parliamentary colleagues, I attended the Armenian National Committee Australia 2014 banquet, where we heard from a special overseas guest, Mr Giro Manoyan, and again acknowledged the historic truth of the Armenian genocide. Recently it was sad to see a report from Mr Robert Fisk, the Independent’s longstanding Middle East correspondent, who had just been in Syria. Reportedly, the entire 173-year-old church of the Armenians in Deir ez-Zor was destroyed a few weeks ago by an Islamic group. This particular church housed the archives of the Armenian genocide, including the many bones, skeletons and skulls of those who died. These bones were apparently thrown into the street and burned, when church leaders would not acknowledge this Islamic group as the legitimate government in Deir ez-Zor.

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, recently visited Sydney and appeared on a number of television programs. His visit coincided with the launch of his book An Inconvenient Genocide: Who Now Remembers the Armenians? in which he addresses the question of the Armenian genocide from a legal perspective. His book explains how the horrific events of 1915—witnessed by many, even some Australian prisoners of war—constituted the crime against humanity that is known today as genocide. As we move towards 25 April next year, let us not forget that Anzac Day is not the only occasion of historical significance that occurred 100 years ago.