CANBERRA: The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC Australia) reports that the Federal Member for Makin, Tony Zappia MP, has delivered a statement on the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide in the Federation Chamber of Australia’s Parliament.
Zappia began his remarks by recounting his presence at the Premiere opening of the theatrical production Journey of Faith in South Australia, a performance dedicated to the Armenian Genocide. He has been a long-time supporter of Armenian Genocide recognition by the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia.
He explained in the Chamber: “Whilst the Turkish Government has acknowledged that atrocities were committed, it denies that they were genocide and says that they occurred during a time of war, when other atrocities were also taking place.”
He added: “Today I acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the loss of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923, and to their surviving families I offer my sympathies.”
His statement follows on from those from numerous Members of Parliament in recent years, including the Treasurer of Australia, the Hon. Joe Hockey MP, who in March 2015 wore the Forget Me Not commemorative pins in Question Time to mark the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide.
Executive Director of ANC Australia remarked: “We thank Tony for this remarks delivered in Parliament to mark the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide. As Tony points out, the Republic of Turkey continues to deny the historical reality of what occurred from 1915 to 1923. Such statements further raise awareness of this yet unpunished crime.”
The full text of Mr. Tony Zappia’s statement can be read below:
“In April I attended the stage performance entitled Journey of Faith. The play was produced to coincide with the 100th anniversary of what is referred to by many historians as the Armenian genocide. The production relives the death of an estimated 1.5 million Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923, through the eyes of an Armenian woman and a Turkish soldier who come face to face in Adelaide as two elderly people some 50 years after the event.
Whilst the Turkish Government has acknowledged that atrocities were committed, it denies that they were genocide and says that they occurred during a time of war, when other atrocities were also taking place. In 2013, the Turkish Prime Minister conveyed his condolences to the grandchildren of the Armenian people who had lost their lives in the early 20th century. As Australian lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, points out, the determination of genocide is a matter for judges. What there is little disagreement about is the magnitude of Armenian suffering and the loss of lives of men, women and children—so much so that, at the time, emergency relief committees were established in several countries, including Australia.
In 1923, Adelaide pastor Reverend James Crasswell travelled to Armenia and surrounding countries to see for himself the situation of the Armenian people. Today I acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the loss of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923, and to their surviving families I offer my sympathies.”