Pontian Federation of Australia calls to revoke suspension of Kat Theophanous MP

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The Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia issued a statement to oppose the suspension of Kat Theophanous MP from a sub-faction of the Victorian Labor Party.

Earlier this month, Northcote MP, Kat Theophanous, was suspended after giving a speech in Victorian Parliament on the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, which triggered conflict within the party. 

In her statement, the Member for Northcote stressed that it has been 49 years since Turkey invaded Cyprus “illegally occupying 36 per cent of the island, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.”

“I am proudly Cypriot Australian, and this year, along with eight other Hellenic Australian parliamentarians, we passed a resolution at the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association’s general assembly,” MP Theophanous said in her speech.

The comments made during the address infuriated Senior minister Natalie Suleyman and sparked rage among the ALP’s large Turkish base.

A motion to suspend Ms Theophanous was moved by minister Melissa Horne.

In the letter, The Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia are calling for the suspension of Kat Theophanous MP to be revoked in the interest of due democratic process, and to uphold human rights principles.

Full Open Letter below:

The Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia writes this statement in response to the recent suspension of the Honourable Kat Theophanous MP from her sub-faction of the Victorian Labor Party.

We understand that the suspension occurred after a speech she gave calling out the inhumane events which lead to devastation, loss of life, land and displacement in Cyprus. We note that her comments relate to what we consider to be recent world history and in line with what is right and necessary to highlight serious human rights transgressions.

Our Federation consists of people who are the direct ancestors of Pontian Hellenic refugees who lost family members, homes and the opportunities a peaceful life affords at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Given this shared experience, we stand with all Cypriots and those who seek justice for Cyprus, in condemning the suspension of the Honourable Kat Theophanous MP.

It is our firm belief that truth telling is essential to healing and serves to keep the memory of our ancestors alive, even if we can not change the devastation of tragic past events. We know that speaking out about the events which occurred in Cyprus can be very difficult and touches powerful local and geo-political interests but we have a moral and inter-generational responsibility to tell the truth.

Whether one agrees with the comments made by the Honourable Kat Theophanous MP as an accurate record of history or not, the one thing we MUST all agree on, is that everyone has a right to free speech in this democratic nation we are all lucky to call home.

We call on those with the power to do so, to have this suspension revoked in the interest of due democratic process and to uphold human rights principles!

In solidarity

Executive Committee
Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia

Read more: Greek and Cypriot Community condemn suspension of Kat Theophanous MP in letter to Premier of Victoria

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