ADELAIDE, Australia—An ANC of Australia delegation was present this week as the South Australian Parliament’s Legislative Council passed a motion recognizing the Armenian Genocide as “one of the greatest crimes against humanity.”
The motion, introduced by David Ridgway MLC, the leader of the Liberal Opposition in the Legislative Council, and seconded by the Hon. Bernard Finnigan, a member of the Labor Government in the Legislative Council, went through unopposed, and sees the Upper House join the New South Wales Parliament in condemning “the genocide of the Armenians and all other acts of genocide.”
This motion is the first to include recognition of recently uncovered material detailing the significant humanitarian effort by South Australians, who aided the victims and survivors of the genocide almost a century ago.
The people of South Australia, as part of the global Near East Relief effort, answered calls for aid by donating clothing, money, and infrastructure, such as an orphanage in Lebanon that housed child survivors.
When introducing the motion earlier this month, a proud Ridgway said, “I would like to recognize South Australia’s role in the first major international humanitarian relief effort. As was the case for the genocide itself, that effort was not broadly publicized.”
“It goes without saying that such acts as the Armenian Genocide epitomize prejudices against race, religion, and culture,” he said. “For most Australians, those attitudes are difficult to comprehend, but unfortunately they remain commonplace in many societies today.”
Finnigan also addressed the House in seconding the motion, saying, “In light of growing international awareness of the Armenian Genocide, and given the horrific nature of the genocide itself, it is time for we South Australians to do our part.”
ANC Australia political relations officer Vache Kahramanian commended Ridgway, Finnigan and their Legislative Council colleagues for recognizing what he described a “proud intertwining of histories for Armenian Australians.”
“It is fitting that South Australia is the first to honor this significant moment in Australian history—the first time this great nation came to the aid of a needy people a whole world away,” Kahramanian said. “It is important for nations like Australia to recognize and condemn all acts of genocide, as some, like the Armenian Genocide, remain unpunished.”
Ridgway commended the Armenian Australian community and the ANC of Australia for their excellent leadership.
“I am grateful to be in an ongoing working relationship with the Armenian community,” he said. “The Armenian National Committee is dedicated to a campaign which advocates recognition of the genocide, and today’s motion is also a tribute to its tireless efforts on behalf of the Armenian community.”