CANBERRA: Australia’s Treasurer, the Hon. Joe Hockey MP, has become the country’s most senior government minister to place on record the historical reality of the Armenian genocide, despite his leader, Prime Minister Tony Abbott backflipping to avoid the use of the word “genocide”.
In a statement prepared for the 99th anniversary commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, Hockey stated: “Today we gather to remember the 1.5 million people who perished in the genocide.”
He added: “Back in 1915, the word ‘genocide’ did not exist… But there is simply no other word for what happened to the Armenian people of Ottoman Turkey.”
The Treasurer has broken ranks with Prime Minister Abbott, who failed to recognise the Armenian Genocide in a statement the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC Australia) described as an “insult”.
Abbott, who in his years as Opposition Leader joined the Armenian-Australian community in commemorating the Armenian Genocide with powerful statements, has failed to continue to do so on the eve of the centenary of the Armenian Genocide.
ANC Australia has written to the Prime Minister to express the anger of the Armenian-Australian community. Executive Director Vache Kahramanian’s letter to the Prime Minister included the following words: “This message is of great insult to the Armenian-Australian community with its blatant omission of the Genocide word. The community tomorrow night is not holding a ’99th Armenian Commemoration’ as your letter was titled, we are marking the ’99th Anniversary Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide’.”
In contrast to Abbott, Hockey states in a powerfully worded statement: “No Armenian family escaped being touched by the Armenian genocide. That is why, for me, having visited the Armenian Genocide Monument in Yerevan it was one of the most emotional experiences of my public life.”
Kahramanian remarked: “This statement is a clear testament that there are elected officials within positions of power who are willing to navigate Australia’s moral compass in the right direction.”
“On behalf of the Armenian-Australian community, I thank the Treasurer for his steadfast support as we approach the centenary of the Armenian Genocide,” Kahramanian added.
“Australia has the moral obligation to recognise and condemn this greatest crime against humanity. Unfortunately the Australian government allows itself to be blackmailed and silenced by its so-called ally, Turkey”.
Photo: From left Australia’s Treasurer, Joe Hockey and Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Below is the full text of Treasurer Hockey.