Vandals attack monuments

9028401.jpgASSYRIAN Universal Alliance secretary-general Hermiz Shahen said many in the Assyrian community were expecting the new monument to be vandalised but they still feel disappointed and hurt.

Just three weeks after it was unveiled, the $70,000 monument on the corner of Smithfield Road and Elizabeth Drive was desecrated.

A crescent moon and star, featured on the Turkish flag, and the words “F— Assyria” and “F— Assyrian dogs” were spray-painted on the globe and black marble base of the monument.

A plaque, dedicated to the victims of the Assyrian genocide during World War I, was also removed.

In a second attack, a war memorial in Fairfield Park, dedicated to Australian and Assyrian soldiers who fought together in WWI and WWII, was also vandalised with a mixture of concrete and paint.

That attack on the Fairfield Park memorial probably occurred the weekend of August 21-22, a Fairfield resident told the Champion.

Mr Shahen said he did not want to lay the blame immediately on the Turkish community.

“We don’t know who is behind it whether it is Turkish people or probably someone trying to stir the atmosphere between the communities,” he said.

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

The monument was unveiled on August 7 after a planning and approval process marred by controversy.

Many feared the monument would elevate racial tensions between Turkish and Assyrian communities, despite the good intentions of the Assyrian community to promote harmony.

At issue is a 95-year-old dispute between Turks and Assyrians over who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Assyrians during World War I.

Consequently, the building of a monument in Fairfield dedicated to the victims was condemned by members of the local Turkish community.

Mr Shahen said he had no regrets about erecting the monument.

“Whatever we did, it was for the community, for the Australian people, and as a symbol of love, peace and harmony,” he said.

He believes it won’t be the last time it is targetted.

“Hopefully the police will take it seriously,” he said. “It has to be respected.”