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Assyrian, Greek, Armenian Genocide Recognition and Education in Australia
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SYDNEY and CANBERRA, Australia -- The New South Wales (NSW) Legislative Council debated and unanimously passed a motion calling on Australia's largest state's government to expand Holocaust education to include the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides and establish a museum to create further awareness, the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) reported.

The motion, presented to the Legislative Council in the last sitting week of 2023 by the Hon. Chris Rath MLC, was debated on February 7, 2024.

Related: The Assyrian Genocide

Members from across the political aisle spoke on the historic motion, including Hon. Daniel Mookhey MLC (ALP), Dr. Amanda Cohn MLC (GRNS), Hon. Susan Carter MLC (LIB), Hon Mark Buttigieg MLC (ALP), Hon. Jacqui Munro MLC (LIB), Hon. Anthony D'Adam MLC (ALP) and Hon. Stephen Lawrence MLC (ALP).

In particular, powerful statements were made in support of expanding genocide education to incorporate the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides in the curriculum and establishing a museum to create awareness about the genocides, by Rath, Munro, Cater and Buttigieg.

Rath, the youngest ever member of the NSW Legislative Council -- appointed in March 2022 -- said, "All of us as Australians -- students and children -- know a lot about the Holocaust, and rightly so. Many, many years later I learned about the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides. They are still not well known and not well taught, which is a very sad thing and exactly what the motion is about."

ANC-AU Executive Director Michael Kolokossian welcomed the historic undertaking by the NSW Upper House.

"The Armenian-Australian community thanks Mr. Rath and his colleagues in the Legislative Council for ensuring New South Wales continues to lead the way after being the first state legislature to recognize the Armenian Genocide and the Republic of Artsakh," Kolokossian said. "The teaching of the darkest chapter of Armenian history is the next step to ensuring we have a more vocal citizenry when future attempts to exterminate our race -- as we witnessed with the recent ethnic cleansing of Artsakh -- are attempted by criminal autocratic regimes."

Meanwhile, the day before on February 6, the organizational wing of the Liberal Party of Australia officially adopted a party policy that, among other things, condemns the genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks and calls for the Commonwealth government to officially recognize the genocides, the ANC-AU reported.

The motion was spearheaded by the Young Liberal Movement of Australia President, Dimitry Chugg-Palmer, who was present at the 2023 Federal Council, the organizational wing's highest forum for debating federal policies. Due to time constraints, the motion was referred to the Liberal Party's Advisory Committee on Federal Policy in 2023, where an overwhelming number of attendees voted in favor of the motion.

Kolokossian thanked Chugg-Palmer for his steadfast support and readiness to advance the interests of Armenian-Australians.

"This is a mammoth step for recognition of the Armenian Genocide in Australia. Whilst the views of the Federal Council are not binding on the party's parliamentary wing, it sends a clear and strong message to elected Liberal parliamentarians that the organization's 80,000 members and over 2,000 branches believe the party should stand on the right side of history and recognize the Armenian Genocide," Kolokossian said.

The Liberal Federal Council now joins the State Parliaments of New South Wales (1997), South Australia (2009), Tasmania (2023), the Australian Greens and several other state and territory Labor and Liberal Party branches in formally adopting a policy on the Armenian Genocide.

The full motion adopted read:

That this Federal Council calls on the Australian Parliament to:

  1. Join the members of the Australian-Armenian, Australian-Assyrian and Australian-Greek Community in honoring the memory of the 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children and over 1 million Assyrians and Greeks who fell victim to the first genocide of the 20th century.
  2. Recognize and honor the extraordinary humanitarian efforts of the then newly-formed Commonwealth of Australia, including for the orphans and other survivors of the genocide of the Armenians, as one of Australia's first major international humanitarian campaigns, which established a proud tradition of international humanitarian efforts by Australia.
  3. Condemn the genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks and all other acts of genocide committed during the 20th century as the ultimate act of racial, religious and cultural intolerance.
  4. Recognize the importance of remembering and learning from such dark chapters in human history to ensure that such crimes against humanity are not allowed to be repeated.
  5. Condemn and oppose all attempts to use the passage of time to deny or distort the historical truth of the genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks and other acts of genocide committed during the 20th century.
  6. Call on the Commonwealth government to join with the 34 United Nations member states (including the U.S., Canada, France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland) in officially recognizing the genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks.

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