Assyrian memorial defaced By Bianca Perez

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By Bianca Perez
Heartbroken: The Assyrian Universal Alliance deputy secretary-general Hermiz Shahen at the vandalised Assyrian genocide monument at Bonnyrigg Park. Picture: Simon Bennett
A MEMORIAL dedicated to the Assyrian genocide during World War I has been desecrated by vandals who spray-painted swastikas and offensive slogans on it.
The monument, on the corner of Smithfield Road and Elizabeth Drive, refers to the killing of 750,000 Assyrians by Ottoman Empire troops as “genocide”.

But last Wednesday morning, the words “F… Armenians, Assyrians and Jews” were found scrawled on the monument.

Local police are investigating.

It’s the fourth time the Bonnyrigg Park monument has been vandalised since it was erected in 2010.

The Assyrian Universal Alliance deputy secretary-general Hermiz Shahen told the Champion he was devastated.

“It’s heartbreaking to see such a beautiful monument, built in respect of something the Assyrian community cherish, vandalised and desecrated with such insults,” he said.

“This monument is only about remembrance.

“It’s about remembering Assyrians and all other martyrs in genocidal episodes throughout history.”

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Mr Shahen said he believed the acts of vandalism stemmed from genocide denial.

“I think it’s a hatred and also a denial of the fact there was such a genocide against the Assyrian nation, which the Turkish government is still denying,” he said.

“It’s always reacting in anger when we mention the genocide of the Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks.

“What the Turkish community in Australia needs to understand is that we don’t blame them.

“We simply want them to acknowledge the crimes of the Ottoman Turkish Empire against the Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks.”

In a statement released last Thursday, the Alliance strongly condemned the vandalism and demanded the perpetrators be brought to justice.

“We urge everyone to remain calm and refrain from passing judgment on any specific group of people, holding them responsible for this reprehensible conduct,” it stated.

Cabramatta MP Nick Lalich, Fairfield MP Guy Zangari, Prospect MP Hugh McDermott and Christian Democrats MP Fred Nile visited the monument last Friday morning to show their support for the Assyrian community.

“I am deeply saddened and utterly disgusted to learn about the vandalism to the Assyrian Genocide Monument,” Mr McDermott said.

“We will soon approach Fairfield Council with our plan to ensure this never happens again.”