Momentum to recognise the Armenian Genocide continued to build in Australia's Federal Parliament, with high-profile Senator Eric Abetz rising in the Upper House to express his "hope that Australia will be in the vanguard of this just endeavour to obtain recognition and reparation for the plight of the world's Armenian peoples, as our forebears were 100 years ago in providing food, support and practical assistance", reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).
In a powerful speech by the former Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister, which also covered human rights abuses suffered by Lithuanians, Senator Abetz did not mince his words.
"Arrests, imprisonment, rape, death marches, subjugation of children—you name it—were all part and parcel of the Armenian genocide," said the Senator representing Tasmania in the Federal Parliament. "This documented brutality and the eyewitness accounts have been ignored for far too long."
Senator Abetz went on to address the fact that Australia was yet to recognise the Armenian Genocide.
"Eyewitness accounts were brought to us by our very own Australian servicemen who were there at that time, as were the war reporters, over 100 years ago," he said. "Potentially, sensitivities by authorities relating to the Gallipoli Peninsula may have quietened that which should have been a loud voice of condemnation of deliberate, orchestrated, official policy in 1915, which saw the removal of the Armenians from the Ottoman Empire."
"I'm a firm believer that justice ultimately prevails and I, therefore, believe that justice will ultimately come the way of the Armenian people. But I am also reminded that justice delayed is justice denied," Senator Abetz added.
"After 103 years, the delay, the denial and the disingenuous excuses need to be expunged in favour of acceptance, acknowledgement and apology. It is my hope that Australia will be in the vanguard of this just endeavour to obtain recognition and reparation for the plight of the world's Armenian peoples, as our forebears were 100 years ago in providing food, support and practical assistance."
ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian, who recently met with Senator Abetz as part of a delegation following the historic House of Representatives' debate unanimously favouring Australia's recognition of the Armenian Genocide, through the prism of the country's first major international humanitarian relief effort which aided thousands of survivors in 1915.
"We thank Senator Abetz for his moral leadership and righteous stance on justice for the Armenian Genocide," Kayserian said. "We look forward to the day that the Australian Foreign Ministry's position on the Armenian Genocide is similarly such moral leadership, and not one that appeases denial of the Armenian Genocide and Australia’s own of historical connection to the Armenian Genocide and humanitarian aid."
Earlier in August, the Green Party called on New Zealand's Parliament to officially recognize the Genocide. Green MP Gareth Huges plans to put forward a corresponding motion in Parliament.