The House of Assembly of the South Australian State Parliament passed a historic motion on Wednesday recognising the right to self-determination of the indigenous Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh, while condemning the attacks by Azerbaijan and Turkey.
South Australia has become the second Australian state to recognise the Republic of Artsakh, following a similar motion passed in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in October 2020.
The motion was introduced by the Hon Tom Koutsantonis MP in the lower house, and seconded by the Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs, the Hon Jayne Stinson MP Member for Badcoe. The Hon Andrea Michaels MP also made a speech in parliament supporting the motion.
The motion condemns the aggression of Azerbaijan and Turkey, particularly in light of the history of ethnic cleansing and genocide of indigenous Armenian, Greek and Assyrian populations.
Mr Koutsantonis stressed in his Parliamentarian speech the need to acknowledge Turkey and Azerbaijan’s recent attempts to “commit genocide.”
“I hope today, we can show the same carriage and foresight as previous parliaments and acknowledge current attempts by Turkey and their ally Azerbaijan to once again commit genocide, ethnic cleansing in the traditional ancestral homes of the Armenian people,” Mr Koutsantonis said.
“I declare today, my belief is Artsakh is Armenian, it is their home. Their connections to this land is not in dispute historically, factually or presently.”
In a statement after the motion was passed, the Armenian Cultural Association of South Australia (ACASA) sent their gratitude to Mr Koutsantonis and Ms Stinson for championing the motion.
“We thank Mr Koutsantonis and Ms Stinson for championing this motion and extend our gratitude to all parliamentarians who supported the passage of this non-partisan motion in the name of human rights,” the Association wrote in its statement.
During the war, Azerbaijan targeted civilian areas with weaponised drones and cluster munitions, and razed cities and towns in Artsakh to the ground. According to ACASA, nearly 3,000 indigenous Armenians were killed, and close to 200,000 displaced.
The SA Parliament motion calls for the safe return of Armenian refugees to their homes without further reprisals, and also asks the Federal Government to condemn these attacks.