Australian Friends of Artsakh Network Meets Artsakh Foreign Minister and Human Rights Ombudsman

On Tuesday 20th December 2022, members of the Australian Friends of Artsakh network were provided with a unique opportunity to hear from the Republic of Artsakh’s Foreign Minister, His Excellency David Babayan, Human Rights Ombudsman, Mr Gegham Stepanyan and local activist, Gev Iskajyan, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

The Artsakh government representatives and Iskajian of the Armenian National Committee office in Artsakh shared an audience with over 25 members of the network of prominent Australians who support the junior Armenian nation’s right to independent self-determination. These supporters followed intently to the on-the-ground update regarding the ongoing nine-day blockade of Artsakh from Armenia and the rest of the world by the bellicose Azerbaijani dictatorship.

The hour-long dialogue, which also included questions and answers, was coordinated by the ANC-AU and attended by the Hon. Jonathan O’Dea MP – Chair of the NSW Armenia-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group, the Hon. Walt Secord MLC – Deputy Chair of the NSW Armenia-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group, Dr Hugh McDermott MP – State Member for Prospect, Mr Tim James MP – State Member for Willoughby, former Senator for Tasmania – Mr Eric Abetz, Mr Sarkis Yedelian OAM – City of Ryde Mayor, Councillor Georgie Roussac – Willoughby City Councillor, Dr Melanie O’Brien – President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, The Reverend Myung Hwa Park – President of the NSW Ecumenical Council, The Reverend Fr Dr Shenouda Mansour – General Secretary of the NSW Ecumenical Council, Dr Panayiotis Diamadis – Historian and Academic, His Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian – Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church in Australia, Reverend Krikor Youmshajekian – President of the Armenian Missionary Association of Australia, Hermiz Shahen – President of the Assyrian National Council – Australia and advisors from the offices of Jerome Laxale – Member for Bennelong MP, Rev. Fred Nile MLC – Member of the NSW Legislative Council and Tammy Franks MLC – Leader of the South Australian Greens.

Launched in August 2019, following a delegation from the Republic of Artsakh led by then-Foreign Minister, His Excellency Masis Mayilian and the Hon. Davit Ishkhanyan MP, the group has since grown to 100 prominent Australians who stand with the Republic of Artsakh and the people’s right to self-determination.

ANC-AU Executive Director Michael Kolokossian thanked the members for participating in the network’s first virtual meeting for 2022 to discuss the ongoing existential crisis facing the Armenians of Artsakh.

“The Republic of Artsakh and the people’s right to self-determination will continue to live on for as long as principled and prominent individuals from across Australia and around the world stand up for their rights and do not tolerate the endangerment of people seeking self-determination,” Kolokossian said.

“Thank you to all the members of the Australian Friends of Artsakh network who continue to stand with the Armenian-Australian community and fight for Artsakh’s survival. Together, we will ensure the blockade is lifted and the people of Artsakh’s right to peace, security and freedom is achieved.”

The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Artsakh in Australia, Kaylar Michaelian, thanked the network’s members for their outstanding efforts in support of the heroic people of Artsakh and urged each of them to continue to utilise their platforms to speak out about the plight of the people of Artsakh.