SYDNEY: The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) has welcomed an overwhelming 405-11 vote by the U.S. House of Representatives, which ensured passage of House Resolution 296 (H.Res.296) recognising the Armenian Genocide while delivering a sizeable blow to Turkey’s century-old denial of the Ottoman Empire’s systematic attempt to eliminate its Armenian, Greek and Assyrian population during WWI.
The bipartisan resolution, introduced by Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), affirms the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide, establishes as a matter of U.S. policy:
- commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance,
- the rejection of Armenian Genocide denial,
- ongoing official U.S. government recognition and remembrance of this crime, and
- support for education about the Armenian Genocide in order to help prevent modern-day atrocities.
Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) are spearheading an identical measure in the U.S. Senate (S.Res.150).
The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU), whose counterparts at the Washington D.C.-based Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) led advocacy efforts on behalf of Armenian-Americans, expect the U.S. House resolution will add to recent momentum the issue has gained in Canberra.
“This resolution is a major step towards justice for the Armenian nation globally, and we are calling on our own legislators to continue the thrust towards the Federal Parliament, joining the great States of New South Wales and South Australia, in its inevitable recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” said ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian.
“The speeches, the debates, and the commentary have all proven that it is time that the Federal Government cease either directly or indirectly appeasing Turkey’s immoral genocide denial, and sides with truth and justice, by once and for all recognising the Armenian Genocide for what it was.”
Kayserian added: “The good news is we have our own Adam Schiffs, Gus Bilirakises, Ted Cruzes and Bob Menendezes in the likes of Tim Wilson, Kristina Keneally, Trent Zimmerman, Joel Fitzgibbon, Eric Abetz, John Alexander, Julian Leeser, Michael Sukkar, Josh Burns, Richard Di Natale, Jason Falinski, Rex Patrick and others. We have the supporters who want to chaperone Australia to the side of truth and justice on this issue.”
In 2018, two House of Representatives debates saw Members of Parliament from both major parties calling on the Australian government to recognise the Armenian Genocide, including recognising eyewitness testimonies of ANZAC POWs and Australia’s first major international humanitarian relief effort – which was to aid survivors of the Armenian Genocide.
The state parliaments of New South Wales and South Australia have also recognised the Armenian Genocide, as have a number of local councils, political parties including the Australian Greens and Centre Alliance, several senior and youth state branches of the major political parties, as well as influential advocacy groups including the Australian Christian Lobby and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian stated immediately after the passing of the U.S. House vote: “The ANCA welcomes the U.S. House of Representatives vote overriding the longest-lasting foreign veto in American history – Ankara’s gag-rule against honest American remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. We must now move forcefully toward a truthful, just and comprehensive resolution of Turkey’s crime against humanity that killed over 1.5 million innocent Armenians.”
Kayserian added that the Armenian-Australian community expects the Australia government to reject the Armenian Genocide gag-order imposed on it by Erdogan’s Turkey – a regime is under increased scrutiny following their military insurgency into northeastern Syria and on-going human rights violations at home.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison linked his decision to avoid using the term “genocide” when referring the Armenian Genocide to Australia’s Anzac Day commemoration service in Gallipoli, confirming long-held views that Australia was under influence by the Turkish dictatorship on this issue.
“We’ve been working closely with the Turkish government to ensure that we continue to have a very strong relationship that enables Australians, and New Zealanders for that matter, to make that pilgrimage,” Morrison said, which attracted the criticism of public figures including politicians, columnists and broadcasters including Alan Jones.