Sydney Assyrian memorial vandalised

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Attack linked to Pope Francis’ statement on Armenian genocide
Sydney Assyrian memorial vandalised
The vandalised memorial at Bonnyrigg Park. [Photo: Anca]
Michael Sweet
A memorial in Sydney’s western suburbs to hundreds of thousands of Assyrians who died during World War I has been defiled by vandals who painted swastikas and offensive slogans on the monument.
The memorial, erected by Assyrian community leaders in Bonnyrigg, refers to the killing of 750,000 Assyrians by Ottoman troops as ‘genocide’.

The spray-paint attack is believed to have taken place in the early hours of Wednesday morning, after which the words ‘F— Armenians, Assyrians and Jews’ were found scrawled across it.

Local police are investigating the incident. The Bonnyrigg Park monument has been vandalised four times since it was erected in 2010.

According to the Assyrian Universal Alliance, the Turkish government backed the local Turkish community’s attempts to block approval of the memorial by Fairfield Council.

The alliance has strongly condemned the vandalism and asked that the perpetrators be brought to justice, but the group also called for calm and asked the community to refrain from passing judgment on a specific cultural group.

“We call upon the authorities to be diligent in identifying the responsible parties,” the alliance said in a statement.

The vandalism is likely to be linked to the highly-publicised statement by Pope Francis last Sunday when he described the massacre of Armenians in WWI by Turkish forces as genocide, at a mass to mark the centenary of the killings.

The comment incensed Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who took to Twitter to admonish the Pope’s use of the word ‘genocide’, which he said was “unacceptable” and “out of touch with both historical facts and legal basis”.

Meanwhile the Armenian National Committee of Australia said it condemned the vandalism of the Fairfield memorial which had “been directed towards the Jewish, Armenian and Assyrian communities”.

“We call on authorities to fully investigate this matter and hold the perpetrators to account, and will be working with them to ensure this is done”.