Australian Friends of Artsakh Network Reaches 100 Signatories as Artsakh Blockaded

The Australian Friends of Artsakh network has reached a milestone 100 signatories, made up of prominent Australians who have lent their names in support for the basic human rights and principles of self-determination of the indigenous Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh, which is currently under blockade by the Azerbaijani petro-dictatorship, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

Kylea Tink MP, the Federal Member for North Sydney; Zali Steggall MP, the Federal Member for Warringah; and Henry Pike MP, the Federal Member for Bowman, lead a list of 12 new additions who have joined the network.

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–– hosted by the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) and Mr Kaylar Michaelian, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Artsakh in Australia––the Australian Friends of Artsakh network has steadily grown over the past three years.

The network, established under the #MOVINGMOUNTAINS catchphrase, has reached 100 signatories, which include Federal, State and Local parliamentarians, leading academics, renowned media personalities and prominent community and religious leaders.

The latest additions also include New South Wales state parliamentarians, Stephen Kamper MP––the Shadow Minister for Small Business, Shadow Minister for Property, and Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism; as well as Chris Wrath MLC.

In addition, recent signatories include the President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, Dr Melanie O’Brien; City of Willoughby Mayor Tanya Taylor; City of Willoughby Councillor Robert Samuel; City of Ryde Councillors Shweta Despande and Sophie Lara-Watson; City of Fairfield Councillor Charbel Salibah, and prominent thought leader Richie Merzian of The Australia Institute.

“These recent additions have bolstered the ever-growing cohort of prominent Australian leaders who believe that the Republic of Artsakh is and will always be Armenian,” said ANC-AU Executive Director, Michael Kolokossian while welcoming this monumental feat as symbolic of the growing awareness and support for the rights of the people of the Republic of Artsakh, which remains closed off from the outside world as a result of Azerbaijan’s blockade of the country.

“It is clear that despite the ongoing attacks, inhumane blockades and ethnic cleansing led by the Azerbaijani dictatorship, the Armenian-Australian community will never give up on Artsakh. These are our the lives of our brothers and sisters living on our ancestral lands, and no amount of Syrian mercenaries, drones, indiscriminate cluster munitions, cultural desecration and humanitarian terror will break our resilience to achieve the human right to self-determination for our compatriots,” added Kolokossian.

“As demonstrated by Azerbaijan’s ruthless tactics against the people of Artsakh today, which remains under blockade for over six days, it has become crystal clear that Azerbaijan and Turkey will not cease in their pan-Turkic expansionist ambitions and this makes building allies for the Republic of Artsakh amongst the top priorities for the Armenian-Australian community.”

“These new additions will signal to Baku that Australians will continue to stand with Armenians in defending human rights and justice and that Australia, like in the cases of Kosovo and East Timor, will not tolerate the endangerment of indigenous peoples seeking self-determination,” Kolokossian added.

Following the recent Federal Elections, parliamentarians Stegall, Tink and Pyke join a steadily growing number of current and former Federal parliamentarians who have declared their support, including Australia’s former Communications Minister Paul Fletcher MP, former Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar MP, former Treasurer and Ambassador to the U.S. Joe Hockey, former Premier Gladys Berejiklian among many others.

The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Artsakh in Australia, Kaylar Michaelian said: “On behalf of the citizens of the Republic of Artsakh, I would like to welcome the new members of the Australian Friends of Artsakh network. I would also like to thank each and every member of the group for their outstanding efforts in ensuring Australia’s values such as integrity, justice, human rights and the principles of the right to self-determination are upheld.”