The Armenian Genocide - Lest We Forget
The Rev Hon Fred Nile MLC, Leader of the Christian Democratic Party in Australia, gave the following address on the 'Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2011' and the 'Work Health and Safety Bill 2011' in the NSW Upper House of Parliament.
"I wish to speak tonight about Armenian genocide and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. On Monday 18 April this year I attended at the Ryde Civic Centre in Sydney a commemoration of the Armenian genocide. I was joined by representatives of the Federal and State governments and oppositions as well as more than 1,000 members of the Armenian Australian community. During the commemoration I was reminded of the murder of the more than 1.5 million innocent Armenian men, women and children as well as the countless Greeks and Assyrians who perished between 1915 and 1922 as a result of an orchestrated plan by the then Ottoman Turkish Government to remove these Christian peoples from their ancestral homelands. Sadly, I was also reminded that although the overseas guest speaker, the international jurist Raphael Lemkin, listed the annihilation of the Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians as a defining example of genocide, the Republic of Turkey as successor of the Ottoman Empire continues to deny that those events ever occurred", said Rev Fred Nile MLC.
"Tonight I rise to discuss the legacy of the Ottoman Turkish Government's genocidal policy. The lack of an appropriate punishment for the Ottoman perpetrators led their Turkic brethren in Azerbaijan to brazenly adopt the same genocidal policy with respect to the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh. The Nagorno Karabakh Republic is a region located between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Its Armenian population can trace their historic presence in the region back to the sixth century BC. Ruled by foreign powers throughout much of its history, Nagorno Karabakh, like Armenia and Azerbaijan, was overrun by the Soviet Union in the early part of the 20th century, and in spite of its predominantly Armenian Christian population was placed under Azerbaijan rule in 1921 by Joseph Stalin. During the next 70 years the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh were subjected to massacres, pogroms, war and devastation at the hands of the Azerbaijan Soviet authorities not dissimilar to the persecutions faced by Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish authorities during the Armenian genocide of 1915.
After years of persecution, which intensified in the late 1980s, the Azeri forces launched an all-out military assault against the civilian Armenian population of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Desperate to prevent a second Armenian genocide, the people of Nagorno Karabakh rallied to defend their homes, their land and their ancient culture. They fought for survival and for the right to self-determination, and finally in 1991 under the Soviet constitution Nagorno Karabakh declared independence. War ensued between the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan until 1994, when a ceasefire was brokered by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Thereafter the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe-chaired by the United States of America, Russia and France-was tasked with negotiating a full and peaceful settlement.
Since the declaration of independence and the subsequent ceasefire the Nagorno Karabakh Republic has held democratic elections, allowing the people to freely elect their leaders, practise their Christian religion and experience their culture without threat of persecution. In spite of this, however, the danger for the civilian Armenian population of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic remains real. Recently an Azerbaijani sniper shot an innocent Armenian farmer near the Nagorno Karabakh-Azerbaijan border. The Azerbaijani Government announced it would shoot down civilian aircraft in Nagorno Karabakh, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Allyev declared that Azerbaijan would pursue a military solution to the issue of Nagorno Karabakh. These actions and threats prove that in order to prevent a second Armenian genocide and secure a lasting peace the Nagorno Karabakh Republic must never be placed under Azerbaijani rule. The rights of the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh to independence derived from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Helsinki Final Act, which in article VIII provides for the rights of peoples to self-determination and states:
... all peoples always have the right, in full freedom, to determine, when and as they wish, their internal and external political status, without external interference, and to pursue as they wish their political, economic, social and cultural development.
Tonight in the New South Wales Parliament I place on record my support for the application of the principle of self-determination for the people and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Never again must the Armenian people, particularly Armenian Christians, suffer the threat of genocide or experience it in any shape or form. I call on the nations of the world to support the people of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in seeking self-determination and freedom to live and practise their religion, the Christian faith", Rev Nile stated.