High profile parliamentarians call for Genocide recognition

In an unprecedented development, seven Members of the House of Representatives of the Federal Parliament have risen in recent days to call for Australian parliamentary recognition of the Armenian, Hellenic and Assyrian Genocides.

In a bipartisan show of support, MPs Craig Kelly, Malcolm Turnbull and Michael Danby and Joel Fitzgibbon – new supporters of this fundamental issue of humanity – joined their voices to long-time friends of the Armenian, Hellenic and Assyrian communities, MPs John Alexander, Joe Hockey and Paul Fletcher in paying tribute to the victims of the first genocides of the 20th century.

Their speeches coincided with the visit of a delegation of ANC Australia, the Australian Hellenic Council (AHC) and the Assyrian Universal Alliance of Australia (AUA) to Canberra to further the cause of genocide recognition as part of ANC Australia’s Advocacy Week 2011.

In his first parliamentary speech on this issue, Craig Kelly (Member for Hughes – NSW) spoke in detail about the genocidal policies of the Ottoman Empire against its Armenian, Hellenic and Assyrian populations.

‘It is now time for our parliament to join other parliaments around the world and recognise these genocides for what they were,’ Kelly stated.

Malcolm Turnbull (Member for Wentworth – NSW) welcomed the representatives of ANC Australia, AHC and AUA in the public gallery of the Chamber of the House of Representatives, adding his voice to the calls for the recognition of these crimes.

The Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Michael Danby (Member for Melbourne Ports – Victoria), affirmed the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide in the past. Danby emphasised the need to acknowledge and remember past genocides to prevent such horrible crimes from recurring.

Joel Fitzgibbon (Member for Hunter – NSW) voiced similar sentiments in his first public statement on this issue.

John Alexander (Member for Bennelong – NSW) called upon the Australian government to join the wave of international recognition of the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Genocide.

Joe Hockey (Member for North Sydney – NSW) emphasised the strong connections between Australian history and the genocide that began in 1915 during an adjournment speech on November 21.

Hockey firmly called for an official Australian recognition of this crime against humanity. Wrapping up an extraordinary three days in the Chamber for our communities, Mr Paul Fletcher (Member for Bradfield – NSW) once again affirmed the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide and called for its official recognition by the Australian government during a constituency speech.

This year alone, there have been ten speeches in the Chamber on this issue. The latest seven joined Shadow Minister for Immigration Mr Scott Morrison, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon who have all called for recognition of the genocides by the Federal parliament of Australia.

The Canberra leg of Advocacy Week 2011 concluded with a first-ever presentation to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Defence on the historical reality of the genocides, its ongoing implications, its links to Australian history and the importance of official Australian recognition.

Source: neoskosmos.com

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  • Emre

    I agree with Armenian Genocide but Greek Genocide? What is that? Greek forces when entered to Anatolian as big powers’ puppet, massacred several thousands of Turkish citizens. Another several thousands were massacred in Selanik and in Trakya until there was the settlement of population switch. Greek army as fled to Izmir, didnt forget to burn all villages on its way and massacre another thousands! Greeks can’t complain of any kind of massacre ever in their lives as your history of massacres against defenceless Turkish population will be remembered. Dear Greek politicians of Australia, add those massacres to your list as well! When history is tried to be written by one-sided politicians and not by historians, it is impossible to reach to any kind of peaceful solution. Australian and New Zeland (ANZAK) forces know very well the respectful Turkish treatment in Canakkale War. Those are true histories of Turkish hospitality even when ANZAK and English forces tried to capture Canakkale Straight and Istanbul. It would be a shame if Australian people accept the games of these Greek Senators.

    • Eric R.

      You may agree with the Armenian issue, but Turkey will not admit to the Armenian Genocides, be it 1894 or 1915. As a Jew, I am ashamed that Jewish organizations have never pushed the issue, either (they felt it was more important to keep Turkey happy), but now that Turkey is an enemy of Israel and the Jews (which is sad, because over the last 600 years, Turkey was more tolerant of Jews than just about any other country in Europe), Israel and Jewish groups should now push for official recognition of the issue. As for the Greeks, I know of the pogrom of 1955 and I know that a million Greeks were driven out of Turkey in 1921-2; but I have never heard of what happened to them as a genocide. And remember – Greek-Americans are far more visible in the USA than are Turkish Americans, and the Greeks would be able to get their version of history out there.

      • Paul

        Genocide of the Greeks of Pontos, Thrace and Asia Minor…read Thea Halo’s book, “Not Even My Name.” You can find a lot of information online (www.pontiangenocide.com) about this lesser-known genocide that took place throughout Turkey between 1916-1924. It predates the Greeks’ unsuccessful campaign to reclaim historical Greek lands in Anatolia.

      • Emre

        Dear Eric, Jews were even massacred by the Greeks in Peloponnese along with Ottoman Turks. I think it doesn’t matter if Israel and Turkey were allies to recognize if there is an Armenian massacre or not. What is important is that these things shouldn’t be treated politically but yes by historians and the facts should be put on the table. Then an independent commission of historians decide on these issues. What a politician can know of what happened a hundred years ago? All the archives should be opened and the truths should be shared. Or do you think that even if we don’t agree of Palestinian treatment from Israel, we should shut up and close our eyes just because Israeli is our ally? That’s what we did and we turned from the best ally to worst in half a year. I think if we were real allies, we wouldn’t be in this situation. We have a saying: “Dost aci soyler”. (A friend says bitter things)….which is like, your friend will tell your good sides and bad sides no matter what.

        • Paul

          Good news, Emre: In 1997, the esteemed International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) unanimously passed a formal resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide. In December 2007 the organization passed another resolution reaffirming the Armenian Genocide and officially recognizing both the Greek Genocide and the Assyrian Genocide: “the IAGS … recognizes the genocides inflicted on Assyrian and Greek populations of the Ottoman Empire between 1914 and 1923.”

          Impartial scholars examined history and this was their finding…Kemal Ataturk himself referred to the Armenian Genocide as “a shameful act.” Many Turkish scholars have had to flee Turkey after proclaiming the historical truth–and breaking Turkey’s penal code 301 of “insulting Turkishness” …Taner Akcam and Orhan Pamuk come immediately to mind.

          You say that “these things shouldn’t be treated politically”, and I fully agree. Descendants of survivors of these genocides have been used as political pawns by Turkey, the US and England to leverage their political agendas as needed. A society advances by fully acknowledging its past–the good, bad and ugly. Turkey is long overdue.

          • Emre

            I didn’t know of this IAGS. I went to their site and checked what is it about. It seemed to me that IAGS has a mission of making the Armenian Genocide recognized by the world. They already passed their 1st resolution in 1997 on Armenian Genocide. It is quite strange that IAGS only studies what Ottoman Empire did but not the massacres which are made in Izmir, Trakya, Selanik etc. When 80% of your resolutions concentrate against a country and writing letters to leaders of the world trying to make it recognize, then you lose a little of credibility in treating the issues like a refree. You know when the refree only gives penalties to one team and doesnt see any “penalty” of other team, then he loses credibility. If IAGS studied and recognized such called Greek massacre, then Turk massacre by the Greek should also be studied. Or IAGS only studies Ottoman Turk massacres? Or do we have to form also an International Organization of Massacre Scholars IOMS and study only what did Greeks do from 1000′s to 1950′s?
            I personally think that we did wrong against Armenians as they were quite defenseless and we will pay the price one day or another. But I think Greek massacres also should be studied against Turks. Paul, do you think that Greeks didn’t massacre Turks in Greece? Do you think that your history is full of peaceful actions?
            International committee should be formed from historians from both sides and all archives should be opened.

          • Paul

            Oh, Emre…it seems you may have entirely missed the point of the IAGS in your efforts to defend Turkey’s erstwhile honor in this arena. The IAGS is composed of highly-respected genocide scholars who conduct solid historical research without an agenda, in order to prevent future genocides from happening. The fact that Turkey figures largely in their genocide studies (along with Sudan, Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, etc..) is because planned and organized mass killings of certain targeted ethnic groups in these countries
            –a genocide–happened. By reducing the integrity of their honorable scholarship to that of a referee at a soccer match, I’m afraid you’ve proven my point; that Turkey needs to face up to its genocidal past once and for all.

          • Emre

            You didn’t answer my question! Come on, lets see your real face!

  • Kdragases

    Atrocities. No one has a monopoly on these type of events. Genocide? the definition could be aplied to the american indians as well. Yes massacres happened. The turks committed their share, so did the Greeks etc. Now stand up like a man and admit it, then move on. Deny it if you feel more comfortable but the event will be viewed and considered for what it is according to ones own consience and belief not according to the official viewpoint of some government.
    Did the Ottomans slaughter civilians throughout their history? Absolutely! Did the Greeks? Absolutely! Now can we just admit it, move on and try to deal with todays problems? They are hard enough without bringing hundred-year old grudges into the mix.

  • Simon

    This is good news for Australia to recognize these genocides and shows it’s maturity as a nation.There are many that have tried to sweep the issue under the rug for political favor or to hide from their collective shame however the truth always finds a way through great leaders of democratic principle.Bravo Australia

  • Tyroneez

    Dear emre
    Again you are mixing everything up … And i suspect Deliberately
    Genocide … Is when a government ORDERS and SYSTEMATICALLY ORGANISES … The complete and total anihilation of a specific ethnic or national group …
    For example
    There is clear evidence that the government if Nazi Germany gave the orders to annihilate the Jews … Men , women , children and even the baby’s …. That is everybody !!!
    There is evidence that the ottoman government of Abdul hamid II gave direct orders to destroy the armenians in the eastern provinces in 1895 … The operation was brought to a halt , after the Russians and other powers threatened to intervene … By then an estimated 300, ooo had perished .. There was even a massacre i’n Constantinople …
    Again undercover of WWI the young Turk ottoman government lead by that triumvirate of death enver , talat and jemal …. Directly ordered the provincial governors to destroy the Armenians everywhere … Except i’n the capital and Smyrna …
    This is genocide …
    also all men of military age of all the other Christian groups , the greek orthodox and Assyrians , were marched off to the army civilian battalions as a deliberate act to be worked to death or massacred as soon as they were out of sight …
    The Armenian old men women and children were marched , 750 kilometres , barefoot to the Syrian desert !!
    Not one young man amongst them …. What happened to the young men ??
    Very few made it to Syria … And they were murdered i’n places like der-zur i’n Syria …
    Hundreds of thousands of Aegean coast orthodox Greeks fled to the Greek islands i’n 1914 … And Pontic orthodox Greeks to the Caucasus … And all this even before Greece entered the war i’n 1917 …
    At no time during the whole of WWI did the Greek government order any measures against it’s 350,000 Moslem civilian , they were treated as full Greek citizens … Unlike what was going on in Anatolia … After the war in 1919 Greece was authorised to occupy the Smyrna vyliate , i’n an effort to safeguard the local majority Christian population … And facilitate the return of the Greek refugees who fled i’n 1914 …although there was an incident on the quay , with large local Greek crowds cheering the arrival of the Hellenic army … shots were fired at the landing troops … From the direction of the prison …And i’n the momentary panic the Greek soldiers retaliated … The pandemonium was soon brought under control by the officers … But not before .. 19 Turks killed and 7 Greek soldiers were dead…no Turkish women or children were involved …nor did the Greek troops go on to harass anyone i’n the Moslem quarter of this the second largest city i’n Anatolia …
    All this was extensively documented by the overseeing international commission … And despite what you may have read i’n the Turkish press and history books …. There was never a general massacre …
    This my Dear Emre does not constitute a genocide … Which is a remarkable achievement by the Greek army … When you consider what the local Greek population had been through since 1914 ..and I’m not saying that a fanatical Christian mob is not as deadly as a Moslem one …
    The point is that the authorities must always take measures to control these phenomena … Not instigate them
    In complete contrast with when the nationalist Turkish army entered the city i’n 1922 … Commander by that criminal general nuri …
    Who dispite promises that law and order would be maintained , and the christaian quarter protected …
    Instead he allowed , an enraged extremist Turkish civilian mob from the Moslem quarter …to rush into the Christian sector , drag the archbishop chrysostomos through the streets , tore out his beard Gouged out his eyes and tear the poor old man and his assistants to pieces … All this i’n front of the fanatical general standing on the governors palace balcony …
    Of course nobody is saying that Deranged mobs are exclusive to the Turks … My point is that the general and the army did not take measure to prevent incidents … But i’n fact were the instigators , the murder of the archbishop was the signal for an assault on the over 350,000 Christians i’n the city now flooded with refugees from the interior … With no place of safety .. This whole pitiless mass of panic stricken humanity .. Crammed onto the mile long beautiful Smyrna quay … And was kept their by the Turkish army …which had also entered the Armenian quarter massacred all they could find and from there set alight the whole Christian quarter , and as the city burned and the flames reached the massive warehouse only feet away from the wailing crowd … The wall of fire could be seen 10 miles out to sea …the allied fleet i’n the harbour stood by … And pushed the fleeing victims away from the ships ….
    After three days the allies allowed the Greek navy to re-enter the smyrna harbour and evacuate the survivors … But by that time over 30,000 had lost their lives ……
    In fact through-out the Greek administration of the city 1919 to 1922 … The governor MR STERGIADES scrupulously treated the Greek and turkish population equally …
    Usually favouring the Moslem petitioner i’n cases of dispute involving his arbitration … Stating openly that … Greece needs to be seen to be more than fair i’n it’s dealings with the local Moslems …
    And for this bias he was very unpopular with the aggrieved local Greek population …
    Do you see now how governments have to take the lead i’n a country’s dealings with it’s vulnerable minorities …
    And not do the opposite … As happened with successive Turkish regimes …who have persisted as a matter of policy , to try and deal with their minority problems by mass murder and expulsion