SYDNEY: The Uniting Church in Australia was honoured with the Freedom Award, leading an illustrious list of award recipients at the Armenian National Committee of Australia’s (ANC Australia) Annual Banquet in Terrey Hills on Friday, the 4th of November, 2016.
The Annual Banquet, which kicked off ANC Australia Advocacy Week, raised over $90,000 to further Armenian interests in Australian public affairs.
The keynote speaker for the event was visiting Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, Raffi Hamparian, who received a standing ovation for his rallying remarks in support of global advocacy by Armenian National Committees around the world (watch full speech below or by clicking here).
The Uniting Church in Australia is the third-largest Christian denomination in Australia, and in 2015, its Assembly passed a unanimous motion recognising the Armenian Genocide. The motion was moved by Armenian Reverend, Dr. Krikor Youmshajekian.
Adding significance to their motion is that the hall located inside St Stephen’s Church in Sydney’s iconic Macquarie Street is named after Reverend John Ferguson, who established the Armenian Relief Fund of Australia in 1915. It was through the work of the Uniting Church in Australia that thousands of Armenians survived the Armenian Genocide.
The Freedom Award by ANC Australia thanked the Uniting Church for their historic motion, as well as acknowledged their initiation of Australia’s first major humanitarian relief campaign to aid the Armenians forced to flee their homes in Western Armenia by the Ottoman Empire.
Members and clergy of the Uniting Church in Australia, as well as the Armenian Evangelical Church of Australia, were in attendance to witness the church’s President, Stuart McMillan accept the award along with Rev. Youmshajekian.
McMillan thanked ANC Australia for this honour and confirmed that his church was delivering on their motion’s promise to encourage the Federal government of Australia to follow the leads of the State governments of New South Wales and South Australia by recognising the Armenian Genocide.
“I wrote to the Prime Minister and urged, on behalf of the Uniting Church in Australia, that his government recognises the Armenian Genocide,” said McMillan.
The Freedom Award was presented by ANC Australia Honorary Chairman, Greg Soghomonian and ANC America Chairman, Raffi Hamparian.
The Armenian National Committee Freedom award is presented to an individual or organisation that has championed human rights, including but not limited to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
ANC Australia Managing Director, Vache Kahramanian congratulated McMillan and the Uniting Church in Australia.
“The Uniting Church in Australia has provided leadership on behalf of Armenians who suffered during the genocide all the way from 1915 to today, from their relief efforts to their 2015 motion, and there could be no more worthy recipient of this honour,” said Kahramanian.
The Freedom Award was one of several honours handed out at the ANC Australia Annual Banquet.
The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (NKR) to Australia, Kaylar Michaelian presented “Gratitude Medals” on behalf of the President of NKR, Bako Sahakyan to a group of Australian politicians who have visited or represented the rights to self-determination for the Armenians of Artsakh.
These awards were graciously received by NSW Treasurer, Gladys Berejiklian, Federal parliamentarian John Alexander, former Federal Senator Joe Bullock, and NSW State parliamentarians past and present, Jonathan O’Dea, David Clarke, Amanda Fazio, Marie Ficarra, Fred Nile and Walt Secord.
Representative Michaelian also presented the President of NKR’s Gratitude medal to ANC Australia for their tireless efforts in advocating for Artsakh in the Parliaments of Australia.
Professor Peter Stanley, the co-author of Armenia, Australia & the Great War – the first book covering Australia’s relief efforts during the Armenian Genocide, was named as ANC Australia’s Friend of the Armenian-Australian Community for 2016.
Stanley’s co-author, Vicken Babkenian was honoured with a Research Acknowledgement Award for his tireless leadership in the research that led to the publishing of his book.
Also acknowledged on the night was Shahane Bekarian, the Director of Children of a Genocide – the first Australian-produced documentary on the Armenian Genocide, which was produced by ANC Australia.
The ANC Australia Annual Banquet highlighted the results of advocacy efforts in 2016, a year which was unprecedented for Artsakh advocacy, considering Azerbaijan’s unprecedented attacks on the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh in April. There was also a Federal Election in Australia in what was the first post-Centenary year since the Armenian Genocide, while Armenia and Artsakh celebrated the 25th year anniversaries of the two Armenian Republics.
View video summary of ANC Australia’s 2016 activities below or by clicking here.
ANC Australia Executive Administrator, Arin Markarian said: “We thank our community and our partners for their continued support for ANC Australia representing their interests and the interests Armenia and Artsakh in Australian public life.”
He added: “We also thank the political leaders, many of whom were with us tonight, who have taken the morally conscious path of representing just Armenian interests in Parliaments across Australia.”
Photo: Uniting Church in Australia President, Stuart McMillan accepting -along with Rev. Youmshajekian (first from right)- the ANC Australia Freedom Award presented by Greg Soghomonian and Raffi Hamparian.
Armenia TV (Australia) – Interview with ANC America Chairman, Raffi Hamparian
Armenia TV (Australia)’s Nanor Shokayan interviews visiting Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, Raffi Hamparian.
Hamparian is in Sydney as guest of the Armenian National Committee of Australia for ANC Australia Advocacy Week 2016.
Armenia TV, a product of Armenia Media Inc., is Australia’s premiere weekly television program broadcasting news, views, interviews, reports and events to the Armenian-Australian community and the Armenian community at large.