The Greek, Armenian and Assyrian communities marched together in Sydney and Melbourne for the very first time on Saturday, to push for the recognition of all three genocides.
Under the slogan, ‘March for Justice 2021,’ the Sydney event drew thousands of protesters calling for Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to stand on the right side of history and lead parliamentary recognition of the Genocides of Anatolia’s indigenous peoples.
Setting off from the historic Domain parkland, the march wound its way past NSW Parliament House, stopping at the Armenian Genocide Monument outside St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral. Three wreaths were laid by six young ladies, representing the three peoples who endured the crime of genocide. The march then wound through Hyde Park to Sydney Town Hall.
Led by the Homenetmen Australia Scouts, the main delegation included political representatives, clergy, school students and community leaders from organisations such as the Australian Hellenic Council, the Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia, Pontoxeniteas NSW, Panagia Soumela Sydney, the Mytilenian Brotherhood of Sydney & NSW, the Cretan Association of Sydney & NSW, the Armenian National Committee and the Assyrian National Council of Australia, among many others.
The event concluded with a special program at Sydney’s Town Hall, with a number of small speeches delivered by representatives from the Greek, Armenian and Assyrian communities.
The Honorable Natalie Ward MLC (Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney General) also addressed the rally on behalf of the NSW Government, after NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, issued a tweet commemorating Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24.
President of Pontoxeniteas Sydney, Maria Anthony, said it was a great turn out, one that would make “our ancestors… so proud.”
“We were the voice they didn’t have, we are the freedom they didn’t have and we will be the ones that will get the justice they all deserve,” Mrs Anthony said.
A similar rally took place simultaneously in Melbourne, with the local Greek, Armenian and Assyrian communities marching from Federation Square to the State Library of Victoria, where a number of speeches were read out.
President of the Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia, Peter Stefanidis, praised Melbourne Greek association, Akrites Tou Pontou, for their hard work in making the combined march a reality.
“In my home city of Melbourne, activists within our community like Kosta Antoniadis and Nikolaos Makridis played a vital role in forming close bonds with these communities over the last decade. However, our association in Melbourne, “Akrites Tou Pontou,” played its own part in helping unite the three communities,” Mr Stefanidis said in a press release.
“In 2019, we were the main act at the Greek Festival of Melbourne where the dancing groups of all three communities performed on stage at the same time to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the 2nd phase of the Greek Genocide.”
This collaborative march comes as a step forward for the activities of the Joint Justice Initiative, which was launched in February 2020 by the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU), the Assyrian National Council of Australia and the Australian Hellenic Council.
Since the initiative’s launch, over 40 Federal parliamentarians have signed up, pledging allegiance to national Australian recognition of the 1915 genocides.