The Tasmanian House of Assembly has become the third state in Australia to recognise the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and its successor state, with a motion unanimously adopted on Thursday afternoon.
Members of the local Hellenic, Armenian and Assyrian communities, as well as representatives of the ANC-AU National Office and Board, were in the public gallery for the historic vote.
The motion was introduced by Lara Alexander MP for Bass. Several members of the House spoke
in favour of the motion, including Premier Jeremy Rocklife MP for Braddon, Opposition Leader Rebecca White MP for Lyons; Greens leader Cassy O’Connor MP for Clarke; Rosalie Woodruff MP for Franklin; and Shadow Treasurer Dr Shane Broad MP for Braddon.
In a major show of support, the motion adopted acknowledged the significant humanitarian contribution conducted by the people of Tasmania to assist victims of the Genocides and recognised the importance of remembering the crimes of the past to ensure they are never repeated again.
Amongst those observing the historic proceeding were Kostas Antoniadis representing the Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia and leaders of Hobart’s Hellenic community.
“It has been a long road, but the achievement here in Tasmania not only honours our ancestors and their memory, but brings us one step closer to national recognition,” Mr Antoniadis said.
In its statement, the Greek Community of Tasmania expressed its thanks “to all who contributed in
making this possible. A big thank you to all the members of the Community who were in Parliament House to witness this significant decision which was passed unanimously by all major parties.”
Federation adviser, Dr Panayiotis Diamadis, welcomed the vote of the Tasmanian parliamentarians as recognition of historical realities.
“With today’s vote, Tasmanians delivers a measure of justice to the victims of the Genocides and long-overdue recognition of the efforts of Tasmanians to save the destitute survivors,” Dr Diamadis said.
The adoption of this motion means the Tasmanian Parliament joins the New South Wales and
South Australian Parliaments in recognising the Genocides of the Hellenes, Armenians, Assyrians, some of the first genocides of the 20th century.
The motion gains significance coming only weeks after the Prime Minister of Australia and the Federal Opposition Leader failed to accurately characterise the massacres of Armenians as Genocide.
The full motion adopted:
GENOCIDE OF THE ARMENIANS, ASSYRIANS AND GREEKS.
— That the House:—
(1) joins the members of the Tasmanian Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Communities in honouring the memory of the approximately 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children and over 1 million Assyrians and Greeks who fell victim to the first genocide of the 20th century.
(2) condemns the Genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks and all other acts of genocide committed during the 20th century, as the ultimate act of racial, religious and cultural intolerance.
(3) recognises and honours the extraordinary humanitarian efforts of the then newly formed Commonwealth of Australia, including Tasmania, for the orphans and other survivors of the genocide, which set a proud tradition of international humanitarian efforts by our State.
(4) further recognises the importance of remembering and learning from such dark chapters in human history, to ensure that such crimes against humanity are not allowed to be repeated.
(5) further condemns and opposes all attempts to use the passage of time to deny or distort the historical truth of the Genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks and other acts of genocide committed in the 20th century.
(6) acknowledges the 34 UN member states (including US, Canada, France, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland) that have recognised the Genocide.