PanARMENIAN.Net – Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, Rev. Fred Nile delivered a solemn tribute to Australian ANZAC soldiers who witnessed and provided relief efforts during the genocides of the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian population of the Ottoman Empire, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia.
Nile’s message comes in light of recent accusations by Turkey’s Ambassador to Australia that these recorded accounts by ANZAC soldiers were somehow false, and it also comes at a time when Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has threatened to ban those Australian politicians, who supported recent motions to recognize these genocides, from attending Gallipoli commemorations of ANZAC Day in 2015.
Nile said: “As we head into the centenary year of the landings at Anzac Cove, it is not an act of friendship to declare that Australian parliamentarians who support motions recognizing aspects of Australian history are not welcome at the commemorations at Gallipoli in 2015.”
Shortly after the Gallipoli campaign, Australian soldiers came into contact with the genocides of the Armenian, Greeks and Assyrians. Over 300 ANZACs were held as prisoners of war (POWs) by the Ottoman forces. These ANZACs recorded their experiences in detailed diaries and memoirs with vivid accounts of the genocide. Many of these accounts are now stored in the archives of the Australian War Memorial.
In his speech on the floor of the Legislative Council, Nile called upon Turkey to have respect for Australian history and to recognize the crime of genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire.
Nile said: “Modern Turkey and modern Australia must have a friendship that is based on mutual respect and understanding of historical differences. Turkey and Australia have overcome the legacy of the battles on Gallipoli, so we must overcome whatever difference of opinion we have about recent motions recognizing the Assyrian and Hellenic genocides and reaffirming the Armenian genocide.”
ANC Australia Executive Director, Vache Kahramanian welcomed Nile’s statement paying tribute to the ANZACs and confirming the authenticity of their records.
Kahramanian said: “The history of the Armenian genocide is intertwined in the fabric of Australian history. Many brave Australian soldiers risked their lives to provide aid and assistance to survivors of the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian genocides.”
“This history is clearly recorded in the archives of the Australian War Memorial and is a proud testament to Australia’s humanitarian assistance abroad. Denying the historical reality of the Armenian genocide also denies our proud Australian history, which should never occur,” Kahramanian added.
The NSW Parliament passed two unanimous motions in May of this year recognizing the Assyrian and Greek genocides while reaffirming its 1997 motion recognizing the Armenian genocide. The motion paid tribute to Australian ANZACs as well as Australia’s proud humanitarian assistance to victims and survivors of this genocide.
In response, the Turkish Foreign Ministry released a statement stating that those who were responsible for this motion will “doubtlessly be deprived of the hospitality and friendship” normally extended to Australians.
More specifically, the official statement says: “These persons who try to damage the spirit of Çanakkale/Gallipoli will also not have their place in the Çanakkale ceremonies where we commemorate together our sons lying side by side in our soil.”