Thousands across Australia commemorate the 109th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide as Australian leaders remain silent

April 2024 was a busy month for the Armenian-Australian community, with thousands gathering across the country in Sydney, Western Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide to commemorate the 1.5 million Armenians who perished at the hands of Ottoman Empire during WWI in the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

The marquee event of this year’s commemoration was the national commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, which took place in Sydney at Chatswood Concourse on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.

Scenes from the Armenian Genocide commemorations in Australia

In the presence of around 1,000 attendees, hosts for the evening Lena Megerditchian and Krikor Demirjian commenced proceedings by acknowledging some of the over 250 guests, which included elected representatives, media personalities, civil society representatives and Armenian-Australian and ethnic community leaders.

The commemorative evening was attended by a record number of parliamentarians, including Jerome Laxale MP – Federal Member for Bennelong; Paul Fletcher MP – Member for Bradfield; Kylea Tink MP – Federal Member for North Sydney; Senator Maria Kovacic – Federal Senator for NSW and NSW Parliamentarians; Hugh McDermott MP – Member for Prospect; Tim James MP – Member for Willoughby; Jordan Lane MP – Member for Ryde; Matt Cross MP – Member for Davidson; Mark Coure MP – Member for Oatley; and Members of the NSW Legislative Council Jacqui Munro MLC, John Ruddick MLC and Susan Carter MLC.

To mark the 109th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, speeches were delivered by parliamentarians, including Jerome Laxale MP, Paul Fletcher MP, Kylea Tink MP, Hugh McDermott MP and Tim James MP.

The highlight of the night was the keynote address delivered by Dr. Khatchig Mouradian, a lecturer in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of the award-winning book The Resistance Network and traveled all the way from the United States to present that evening.

Dr. Khatchig Mouradian delivers the keynote address at the commemoration in Sydney

Mouradian also participated in the Melbourne and Western Sydney commemorations during his visit, discussing the strength and resilience of the Armenian nation following the Armenian Genocide and ethnic cleansing of Artsakh, leaving attendees feeling empowered to continue championing the Armenian cause for truth and justice.

Cultural performances were delivered at the national commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in Sydney by the Hamazkayin Nairi Dance Group’s Anna Berberian and Lucy Setrakian, as well as young Armenian-Australian poet Nanar Marashlian who recited “Ghoghanch Yeghernagan” by Barouyr Sevag.

The resilience of survivors of the Armenian Genocide was a focal point at this year’s national commemoration. Attendees heard the late Armenian-Australian Genocide survivor Khatoun Megerditchian’s story of survival and were raw with emotion after descendants of Megerditchian rose to the stage to honor all survivors of the Genocide.

This year’s advocacy address was once again delivered by ANC-AU Executive Director Michael Kolokossian, who called out Australia’s leaders for failing to accurately characterize the events of 1915 as genocide.

Watch the full speech here.

The proceedings were concluded by the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia and New Zealand, His Eminence Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian, who delivered a prayer with fellow clergy leaders and denounced the complacency of Western politicians, whose inaction led to the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh.

Scenes from the Armenian Genocide commemorations in Australia

Across Australia, several other commemorative events were held.

On Tuesday, April 23, an event organized by the Melbourne Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee was held in Rowville, Victoria, which saw over 300 members of the community gather to pay their respects.

The commemoration included cultural performances from the students of the Aginian and Hamazkayin Mesrop Mashtots Madteossian Saturday Schools, as well as remarks from Victorian State Parliamentarians, The Hon. Kim Wells MLC – Member for Rowville and Nick Staikos – Member for Bentleigh and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Multicultural Minister.

Moreover, commemorative events in Perth, Adelaide and Western Sydney drew more than 300 community members.

Of significance, the commemoration in Perth was attended by the Western Australian Opposition Leader Shane Love MLA, who said, “It is important that we learn from these past atrocities and officially recognize them at both a state and federal level.”

In Ryde, the City Council once again held a well-attended commemoration in Meadowbank.

Unfortunately, the success of this year’s commemorations was overshadowed by the poor statements delivered by our nation’s leaders on the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. As addressed during his speech, Kolokossian called out the ‘weak’ terminology utilized by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who failed to use the term genocide, which was contradicted by a record 35 Australian Parliamentarians from the Federal Parliament, New South Wales Parliament, Victorian Parliament, Western Australian Parliament and Australian Capital Territory. To read more about the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition’s statement click here.

The Armenian Genocide commemorative events concluded in the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly on Monday, May 13, 2024, co-hosted by the Armenian National Committee of Australia – Canberra Branch and the Canberra Association of Pontos ‘Trapezounta’.

Armenian National Committee of Australia

Armenian National Committee of Australia

The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) is the largest and most influential Armenian-Australian grassroots organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters and supporters throughout Australia and affiliated organizations around the world, ANC-AU actively advances the concerns of the Armenian-Australian community on a broad range of issues.

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