by StreetCorner 21/01/2010
Fairfield Council has approved a monument commemorating Assyrian genocide despite opposition from the Turkish community and Federal Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.
The Assyrian Universal Alliance[http://aua.net] proposed the monument for the alleged genocide and the Fairfield Council approved this in August 2009 on community land. The issue has now been referred to the New South Walesâ€™ ombudsman, after it was revealed that two Councilors had a conflict of interest.
The alleged genocide supposedly occurred during WWI 1915-1918 when hundreds of thousands of Assyrians were killed in the former Ottoman Empire.
Turkeyâ€™s ambassador to Australia, Oguz Ã–zge, called the councilâ€™s decision â€œvery offensive.”
Adem Ã‡etinay who is of Turkish decent but was born in Australia, organised a petition opposing the monument with 800 signatures. Cetinay also highlighted in a 14- page complaint of the links between the Assyrian community and several Councillors who voted for the monument.
Cetinay says â€œthis is all news to us, Iâ€™m 36 years old and played soccer [football] locally all my life with Assyrians and itâ€™s never been mentioned?, and not all Assyrians are behind this.â€
Cetinay continued my concerns arenâ€™t over relations between Turkish people and Australians but creating hostilities where there have been none in the pastâ€
The Foreign Minister Stephen Smith wrote to the council expressing his concern over the monument, saying the issue of Genocide was one of great sensitivity.
The Council decided to proceed and there has been wide public criticism over Fairfield Council involvement in History and taking the side of one party is hardly a way to encourage racial tolerance.
Fowler Federal Labor MP Julia Irwin who said “There are difficulties in supporting memorials on public land which are dedicated to one cultural or ethnic group, no matter how worthy the cause.â€™â€™