Council has received a proposal from the Assyrian Universal Alliance for a new
memorial sculpture in Bonnyrigg. This paper provides an overview of the proposal, so
that stakeholders can provide comment to Council. Council officers will collate the
community’s feedback and make a recommendation to Council. The final decision
about the memorial remains with Council.
In accordance with Council’s Plaques and Memorial Policy (1-210), the design,
construction and installation of the memorial will be fully funded by the proponent,
the Assyrian Universal Alliance.
The Proposal:
The proposal being considered, is to erect a memorial statue in Bonnyrigg (at the
corner of Smithfield Rd and Elizabeth Dr), dedicated to the memory of over 700,000
Assyrians who perished in the Assyrian genocides. Throughout the 20th century
massive numbers of Assyrians fled religious and political persecution within Iraq, Iran
and Turkey. The most critical periods were the Assyrian genocide during WWI 1915,
the Simile massacre 1933 and onward.
This Memorial is distinct from the Plaque that was recently unveiled in Fairfield Park,
where the primary focus was to honour the Assyrian service personnel who lost
their lives in WWI and in WWII fighting alongside the Allies. In particular, the bravery
of the Captain Stanley George Savige AIF, whose actions saved 60,000 Assyrian
refugees. Rather, this proposed Memorial recognises civilian victims of the wars.
The Design of the Memorial and its Meaning:
The sculpture by renowned artist Lewis Batros depicts the hand of a martyr to
represent the people who dedicate their lives to create a better & safer world.
The hand is draped in the Assyrian flag, representing the survival and spiritual rebirth
and unity of the Assyrian people. Figures of young children come together at the
base, symbolising the faith in the younger generation to carry the torch for
betterment, and for shaping the future of the Assyrian nation.
Proposed memorial in Bonnyrigg CONSULTATION PAPER – WEBSITE p 2
The hand holds aloft a globe as a call to unity and a call to action for a safer world,
free from the fear of genocide. The winged bull is a celestial being from
Mesopotamian mythology which wards off evil, and is often used as a gatekeeper
and protector.
Total height of the memorial = 4.5 m
The Location of the Memorial:
The proposed location is the new, unnamed reserve (currently under construction) at
the corner of Smithfield Road and Elizabeth Drive. It will be landscaped in a similar
manner to Bonnyrigg Park, which is opposite the reserve (see aerial photograph).
Concurrent with the proposal for the memorial, the proponents have applied (in
accordance with Council Policy Number 1-208) to name the new reserve “Garden of
Nineveh”. Nineveh is a holy and famous capital city of ancient Assyria.
Relevance of the Memorial to the City of Fairfield:
“Assyrians appreciate the value of citizenship in Australia and consider themselves
even more privileged to be living in what they recognise as being the best city of the
world – Sydney. This vibrant community cannot however cease mourning its tragic
past when its people remember that they are the children and grandchildren of those
who even to date have vivid memories of the horrific events of a genocide that
shaped their present status as a stateless nation… It is in this context and in the
context of universal human rights that the Assyrian community, as part of the
Australian community, plead that this ethnic, religious and cultural genocide of their
people be acknowledged and recognized.” (Assyrian Universal Alliance proposal)
One in ten persons residing in Fairfield is of Assyrian ancestry.
With so many of our residents settling in Fairfield City after fleeing situations of war,
trauma and torture, the sculpture – whilst proposed by the Assyrian Universal Alliance
– also conveys a universal message of a safer world.
The Memorial will have particular significance on 7 August, which is designated as a
Remembrance Day for the Assyrian Genocide and Assyrian Martyrs.
Accuracy and international recognition of the events:
In accordance with Council’s Plaques and Memorials Policy, any proposed memorial
that refers to an historical event, must have the information verified. In the case of
this memorial, the Assyrian genocide is recognised by NSW Local Government
Association (which is the peak industry body for local government), as well as
1. Local Government precedent: “The Local Government Association of NSW
resolved to support recognition of the genocide perpetrated against the
Assyrian people during the 1914-1918 World War and onwards. The recognition
of the Assyrian Genocide Remembrance Day (7 August) by Local Government
will assist the Assyrian nation strengthen their cultural identity and raise
international awareness of the tragedy associated with genocide.” (Reference:
LGSA Weekly Circular, Issue 33/02, 16-08-02)
Proposed memorial in Bonnyrigg CONSULTATION PAPER – WEBSITE p 3
2. In December 2007, the International Association of Genocide Scholars, the
world’s leading genocide scholars organisation, overwhelmingly passed a
resolution officially recognising the Assyrian genocide, along with the genocide
against Ottoman Greeks.
“…be it resolved that it is the conviction of the International Association of
Genocide Scholars that the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the
Empire between 1914 and 1923 constituted a genocide against Armenians,
Assyrians, and Pontian and Anatolian Greeks…”
3. International precedent: This is not the first memorial to the victims of the Assyrian
genocide. The governments of France, Sweden and the United States have all
allowed Assyrians to establish monuments commemorating the victims of the
Assyrian genocide.
Memorial in Paris Memorial in California