- Letter To Hon Joe Hockey MP, Australia: Armenian Claim
- Letter To Hon. Joe Hockey, Federal MP, Australia: Genocide Allegations
CANBERRA: On October 20th, Federal Member for North Sydney, the Hon. Joe Hockey spoke openly about the Armenian Genocide in the Federal Parliament of Australia, calling for recognition of this heinous crime.
In response to appeals by the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC Australia), Hockey raised in Parliament the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) recent use of the qualifier 'alleged' when making reference to the Armenian Genocide in a documentary entitled 'Family Footsteps - Armenia' broadcast in September.
Hockey stated: "In the dead of night on 24 April 1915, 250 Armenian political, religious, educational and intellectual leaders in Istanbul were arrested, deported to the interior of the country and murdered which is now recognised as the beginning of an official attempt by the Turkish government to exterminate its Armenian population.
"Around 1½ million Armenians were murdered during the Armenian genocide out of an estimated total Armenian population of just 2½ million people."
Hockey concluded by calling on the Commonwealth Government to recognise the Armenian Genocide. He urged "this parliament to recognise the Armenian genocide for what it was—not alleged, not supposed and not so-called."
In a statement released today, ANC Australia President Mr. Varant Meguerditchian thanked Hockey for "again demonstrating leadership on a human rights issue which transcends party politics".
The statement read: "ANC Australia reaffirms its commitment to raising awareness of the Armenian Genocide as a measure toward the prevention of such crimes against humanity."
Hockey thanked ANC Australia for bringing this matter to his attention.
The statement by Joe Hockey in Parliament follows an active grassroots action by ANC Australia to raise awareness and seek correction by the ABC for referring to the Armenian Genocide as the 'alleged Armenian Genocide' in a recent documentary.
In addition to more than 1000 emails sent by members of the Armenian-Australian community to the ABC regarding this matter, ANC Australia secured letters of support from the Hon. Ms Maxine McKew, Member for Bennelong, Prof. Gregory Stanton, President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, Dr Donna-Lee Freize, Deakin University, Prof. Peter Balakian, Author of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response, the Australian Hellenic Council and the Australian Institute for Holocaust & Genocide Studies.
Meet Joe - MP Joe Hockey's Website
Below is the full text of the Hon. Joe Hockey's address to the Australian Parliament.
ADJOURNMENT - Armenian Genocide (20 Oct 2008, House of Representatives)
Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (9:40 PM) —I thank the member for Werriwa for that endorsement. In 1939, Adolf Hitler addressed his battle commanders at Obersalzberg with these chilling words:
I put ready my Death’s Head Units the order to kill without pity or mercy all men, women and children of the Polish race or language. Only thus will we gain the living space that we need. Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?
On the basis of the worldwide apathy to the plight of an entire generation of Armenians who were rounded up and systematically slaughtered, Hitler embarked on his own diabolical plan of extermination. Some 70 years after Hitler’s words, the Armenian community is still struggling to achieve recognition for their own genocide at the hands of the Ottoman military during World War I. In the dead of night on 24 April 1915, 250 Armenian political, religious, educational and intellectual leaders in Istanbul were arrested, deported to the interior of the country and murdered. On that same day, 5,000 of the poorest Armenians in the city were rounded up and slaughtered on the streets and in their homes. This is now recognised as the beginning of an official attempt by the Turkish government to exterminate its Armenian population.
Over the next three years, the Turkish government ordered the deportation of the remaining Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire to concentration camps in the desert between Jerablus and Deir ez-Zor. They were marched through the country on foot in a hard and cruel journey. Women and children were forced to walk over mountains and through deserts. These people were frequently stripped naked and abused. They were given insufficient food and water, and hundreds of thousands of Armenian people died along the way. Around 1½ million Armenians were murdered during the Armenian genocide out of an estimated total Armenian population of just 2½ million people.
The intention of the Ottomans was the complete obliteration of not only the Armenian nation but any memory of the Armenian people as well. During the operation, reporting and photography were forbidden by the Turkish government .The mere existence of Armenians in Turkey was officially denied. Maps and history were rewritten. Churches and schools were desecrated. Children who were taken from their parents were renamed and raised as Turks. Back in 1915, the word ‘genocide’ did not exist, as the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was only adopted in 1948 in the aftermath of the Holocaust. But there is simply no other word for what happened to the Armenian people of Turkey. They were indeed the victims of an act designed to destroy an entire race.
A few starving surviving Armenian refugees returned to their former homeland only to see their country subsequently conquered by the Bolshevik Red Army and incorporated into the Soviet Union for seven decades, until 1990. These survivors were able to tell the world what had happened to their people. There was outrage across Europe as news of the atrocity spread. Today the government of Turkey steadfastly refuses to recognise the genocide of its Armenian citizens. They campaign actively, claiming a lack of evidence. Indeed in Turkey, under article 301 of the Turkish penal code, individuals, intellectuals, journalists and publishers can be prosecuted for insulting Turkey. Therefore, whenever referring to the genocide in that country, people refer to it as the ‘alleged genocide’ to avoid prosecution.
In spite of this, many countries have officially recognised the Armenian genocide. As yet Australia has not done the same. This weighs heavily on me, particularly as my own grandfather was himself a survivor of the genocide. He never knew the fate of his siblings and his friends as they were presumably led to their deaths. Similarly, this lack of recognition weighed heavily on the hearts of Armenian-Australians, especially when on 28 August our ABC aired the Family Footsteps program on an Armenian-Australian who had travelled back to the homeland of her ancestors. Throughout the program, the narrator repeatedly refers to the ‘alleged’ genocide. The doubt that is cast over what happened to the Armenian people by this offensive word has no place in an Australian television program. It is divisive and offensive.
Australian people deplore this sort of racism and barbarity. This country has prospered though the immigration of people from countless nations, including Armenia. I urge this parliament to recognise the Armenian genocide for what it was—not alleged, not supposed and not so-called. It was the intentional attempted obliteration of an entire people. To refuse to acknowledge this genocide is to ensure that future Hitlers can capitalise on the world’s reticence in taking a stand.
The full text of the communication between ANC Australia and the ABC can be found below.
09.09.2008 ANC LETTER TO ABC RESPONSE
ATT: Parker Bourke
ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs
Corporate_Affairs4.ABC at abc dot net dot au
RE: DENIAL OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE BY THE ABC
Dear Mr. Bourke,
We refer to your email to the ANC dated 8 September 2008.
We find your attempt to justify the use of the offensive qualifier “alleged” with respect to the Armenian Genocide, which is one of the worst crimes against humanity in modern history, unacceptable and no less repugnant than the original offence.
Your letter suggests that the categorisation of the systematic extermination of approximately 1.5 million Armenian civilians by the Ottoman Turkish Government as genocide is legitimately disputed and therefore warrants the qualifier “alleged”. Your letter has the temerity to refer us to Section 5.3 of the ABC Code of Practice that “Every reasonable effort must be made to ensure that factual content is accurate and in context and that content does not misrepresent other viewpoints”. Yet your very letter completely ignores the unequivocal position taken by the foremost Holocaust and Genocide scholars around the world who recognised and teach about the Armenian Genocide.
This overwhelming preponderance of genocide scholarship is more eloquently summarised in the letter dated 6 April 2005 to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan from the International Association of Genocide Scholars, which represents the major body of scholars who study genocide in North America and Europe. That letter was in response to the Turkish Prime Minister’s call for a commission of historians to “investigate” whether the Armenian Genocide occurred. You may recall a similar “commission of historians” was held recently by the President of Iran to deliberate whether the Holocaust of 6 million Jews took place.
Given the dismissive tone of your response, we are compelled to bring to your attention the following pertinent passages of that letter as they appear to apply to the ABC as much as the Turkish Government policy of genocide denialism:
“We are concerned that in calling for an impartial study of the Armenian Genocide you may not be fully aware of the extent of the scholarly and intellectual record on the Armenian Genocide and how this event conforms to the definition of the United Nations Genocide Convention. We want to underscore that it is not just Armenians who are affirming the Armenian Genocide but it is hundreds of independent scholars, who have no affiliations with governments, and whose work spans many countries and nationalities and the course of decades. The scholarly evidence reveals the following:
On April 24, 1915, under cover of World War I, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic genocide of its Armenian citizens - an unarmed Christian minority population. More than a million Armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture, and forced death marches. Another million fled into permanent exile. Thus an ancient civilization was expunged from its homeland of 2,500 years. ……….
The Armenian Genocide is corroborated by the international scholarly, legal, and human rights community:
1) Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin, when he coined the term genocide in 1944, cited the Turkish extermination of the Armenians and the Nazi extermination of the Jews as defining examples of what he meant by genocide.
2) The killings of the Armenians is genocide as defined by the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
3) In 1997 the International Association of Genocide Scholars, an organization of the world's foremost experts on genocide, unanimously passed a formal resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide.
4) 126 leading scholars of the Holocaust including Elie Wiesel and Yehuda Bauer placed a statement in the New York Times in June 2000 declaring the "incontestable fact of the Armenian Genocide" and urging western democracies to acknowledge it.
5) The Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide (Jerusalem), the Institute for the Study of Genocide (NYC) have affirmed the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide.
6) Leading texts in the international law of genocide such as William A. Schabas's Genocide in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2000) cite the Armenian Genocide as a precursor to the Holocaust and as a precedent for the law on crimes against humanity.
As to your comment – “…, but others have disputed this categorisation”, the above letter again relevantly states:
“We would also note that scholars who advise your government and who are affiliated in other ways with your state-controlled institutions are not impartial. Such so-called "scholars" work to serve the agenda of historical and moral obfuscation when they advise you and the Turkish Parliament on how to deny the Armenian Genocide”.
Put another way, the position adopted in your response is no different to suggesting that because certain “historians”, like David Irving (and those who attended the aforementioned “academic” conference organised by the President of Iran), who contest the historical veracity of the Holocaust, the ABC is required by its Code of Conduct to refer to the Holocaust as the “alleged Holocaust”.
The position taken in your response also flies in the face of various “topical and factual content” on the Armenian Genocide broadcast by the ABC over the years (a sample of which is referred to in our initial email). That content never used such offensive qualifiers in referring to the Armenian Genocide. Has ABC TV Documentaries uncovered new evidence which turns on its head the above internationally respected genocide scholarship on the Armenian Genocide and the ABC’s previous practice?
We are, therefore, compelled to refer you to another section of the ABC’s Code of Conduct, namely Section 5.4 which states:
“The ABC will correct a significant error when it established that one has been made. When a correction is necessary, it will be made in an appropriate manner as soon as reasonably practicable”
With respect, it is disingenuous to apologise for any offence caused as a result of the use of the term “alleged Armenian genocide” and still defend and try to justify that very offence.
The position outlined in your response raises more concerns for Armenian-Australian Community, most of whom are descendants of the survivors of the genocide, than the offensive qualifier which gave rise to our initial complaint. Whilst we appreciate that this offence is not intentional, we are extremely concerned that the ABC is unwittingly making itself an instrument of Armenian Genocide denial and obfuscation in the misguided guise of “impartial reporting”.
Accordingly, we request an urgent meeting with relevant representatives of the ABC to address the above concerns and to explain why an appropriate apology is required for the offence caused.
We await your urgent response.
Cc: Media Watch Program
mediawatch at your dot abc dot net dot au
09.09.2008 ABC STANDARD RESPONSE TO COMMUNITY EMAILS
Thank you for your email regarding the episode of Family Footsteps broadcast on 28 August. In line with ABC complaint handling policies, your correspondence has been referred to me for response.
The ABC regrets that you were concerned by the use of the terms "alleged genocide" and "alleged Armenian genocide" in this program to describe the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I.
These terms were used by the narrator four times over the course of the program, in the following contexts:
- "During World War I, the Turks killed over one million Armenians in the first alleged genocide in modern history."
- "During that year , refugees would have been fleeing the alleged genocide, and taking their treasured rugs with them."
- "Verjine Svazlian is an historian specialising in the alleged Armenian genocide."
- "Her Armenian experience also inspired Joanna to visit her grandmother in America, who herself was a refugee from the alleged genocide."
It is the ABC's understanding that the categorisation of these events as genocide remains a matter of contention within the international community. It is certainly true that many historians and governments have recognised the events as genocide, but others have disputed this categorisation. Family Footsteps is categorised by the ABC as topical and factual content for the purposes of our Code of Practice. The requirement for accuracy in such content is outlined in section 5.3 of the Code: "Every reasonable effort must be made to ensure that factual content is accurate and in context and that content does not misrepresent other viewpoints." On review, the ABC is satisfied that each of the statements quoted above met this requirement.
Nonetheless, please accept the ABC's apologies for any offence caused as a result of the use of the terms "alleged genocide" and "alleged Armenian genocide" in this program. Please be assured that your concerns have been brought to the attention of the ABC TV Documentaries department and ABC Television management.
Thank you for taking the time to contact the ABC about this matter. I have attached a link to the ABC's Code of Practice for your information:
ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs
29.08.2008 ORIGINAL ANC AUSTRALIA LETTER TO ABC
ABC TV Documentaries
ATT: Stuart Menzies
Head of Documentaries
menzies dot stuart at abc dot net dot au
RE: ABC FAMILY FOOTSTEPS PROGRAM - ARMENIA
Dear Mr. Menzies,
The Armenian National Committee of Australia wishes to express serious concern in relation to a recent ABC Television story. On Thursday 28 August, the ABC's Family Footsteps program broadcast the story of Joanna Kambourian, an Armenian-Australian who travelled back to the homeland of her ancestors to explore the rich culture of the Armenian people and the tragic history of the Armenian Genocide.
The program covered Joanna's journey as she learnt the ancient language, customs and history of the Armenian people. She also discovered the reality of the Armenian Genocide - an attempt to erase the Armenian people, their cities, churches and homes.
The coverage included a meeting between Joanna and an Armenian Genocide Historian who explained that in 1915, under the cover of WWI, the Turks began a systematic genocide of the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire.
Unfortunately, throughout the program the narrator referred to the Armenian Genocide as the ‘alleged’ Armenian Genocide. ‘Alleged’ has become a qualifier used by Armenian Genocide deniers to distort and blur the historical accuracy and reality of the Armenian Genocide.
In legitimate academic circles, the Armenian Genocide has been classed as a foremost example of Genocide. It has been condemned by the International Association of Genocide Scholars and by the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Further, the phrase ‘Armenian Genocide’ is used to describe the events of 1915 by prestigious media outlets including the New York Times, LA Times, The Washington Post and The Australian.
The Armenian Genocide has been recognised and condemned in Australia by the State Parliament of NSW, and internationally by prominent governments including those of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Russia, Switzerland and Argentina.
It is only in Turkey that restrictions apply to the use of the term Armenian Genocide. Under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, individuals, intellectuals, journalists and publishers can be prosecuted for insulting Turkey. Thus qualifiers such as ‘alleged’ or ‘so called’ are placed before mentioning the Armenian Genocide as a measure to distort the truth of the Armenian Genocide and avoid prosecution.
Fortunately in Australia, individuals, intellectuals, journalists and publishers are not bound by such restrictions. In April of the this year, the ABC Television’s Foreign Correspondent program broadcast an Eric Campbell story entitled ‘Armenia and Turkey – Ghosts of the Past’ ( http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2008/s2207929.htm ). During this, the tragic events that befell the Armenian people where truthfully described as the ‘Armenian Genocide’.
The Armenian Genocide was again described as an incontestable example of genocide during an interview which respected ABC radio-journalist Philip Adams conducted with genocide scholar Prof. Colin Tatz and bestselling author Prof. Peter Balakian (http://www.abc.net.au/rn/latenightlive/stories/2008/2217843.htm ). Also, an ABC News story (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/04/21/2222427.htm) earlier this year echoed the same position.
On behalf of the Armenian-Australian community, the Armenian National Committee of Australia questions why the ABC's Family Footsteps program referred to the Armenian Genocide as the ‘alleged’ Armenian Genocide?
The Armenian-Australian community expects a public correction for references made to the Armenian Genocide which were preceded by the word ‘alleged’, and we undoubtedly expect that the ABC will reaffirm its previously established moral and historically accurate position when referring to the Armenian Genocide.
In anticipation of your positive response, we thank you in advance.
Armenian National Committee of Australia
ANC AUSTRALIA ePETITION
Join Joe Hockey in calling for Australia to recognise the Armenian Genocide!
Recently, at the urging of the Armenian National Committee of Australia, the Hon. Joe Hockey - Federal MP for North Sydney and Shadow Finance Minister - spoke candidly in the Australian House of Representatives about Turkey's continued denial of the Armenian Genocide.
By signing your name to this e-petition, you will add your voice to growing calls for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Government of Australia.
Breaking News: Senator Chris Ellison (Western Australia) Called On National Senate To Recognise Armenian Genocide
CANBERRA: Following meetings with the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC Australia) in Canberra, Senator for Western Australia Chris Ellison called on the national Senate to formally recognise the Armenian Genocide.
In what is a major development, the Armenian Genocide has been discussed in both houses of Australia's Parliament within three weeks. Senator Ellison's remarks on 11 November follow the Hon. Joe Hockey's on 20 October, when he called for the Australian House of Representatives to formally recognise the Armenian Genocide.
Senator Ellison told the Senate: `A number of senators and members would no doubt have met representatives from the [Armenian] community who visited the parliament this week... [and] ...the issue of the Armenian genocide in 1915 is a matter which weighs heavily with them.'
He added: `...this is a very important issue and one which needs to be recognised by Australia.'
In addition, Senator Ellison brought to the attention of the Upper House recently-uncovered information of Australia's significant relief effort aiding victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Senator Ellison said: `...what is important is Australia's role, and in fact there was a thing called the Armenian Relief Fund of Australia, which operated from 1915 to 1929.
`This relief fund of Australia provided humanitarian assistance to victims of the Armenian genocide. These relief efforts became known as the first major international humanitarian project provided by Australia and set a precedent for continued support for areas and people in need throughout the world, and that is quite extraordinary when one looks at the history...'
The Senator, who is also a member of the `Australia Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group', urged his colleagues to `acknowledge this as a matter of history', because `bad things happen when good men and women do nothing'.
ANC Australia President Mr. Varant Meguerditchian, who led a delegation of colleagues along with visiting guest Raffi Hamparian of ANC America, welcomed Senator Ellison's advocacy and said it proves his organisation's inaugural Advocacy Week was delivering fruitful results.
`ANC Australia Advocacy Week is all about educating legislators about the reality of the Armenian Genocide and the importance of its recognition internationally,' he said.
`Senator Ellison's statement in the Upper House is the start of what we expect will be his integral involvement in our efforts to have Australia recognise the Armenian Genocide.'
Armenian National Committee of Australia
Assistant Treasurer Hosts Exhibition ARMENIA
CANBERRA: Federal Assistant Treasurer, the Hon. Chris Bowen MP hosted a unique exhibition titled `Armenia' at Parliament House on Monday, as the Armenian National Committee of Australia's (ANC Australia) inaugural Advocacy Week begun in Canberra.
The exhibition was part of a two-day visit to the nation's capital by an ANC Australia delegation led by President Mr. Varant Meguerditchian and visiting guest from ANC America, Mr. Raffi Hamparian.
The delegation, through the poster exhibition and direct meetings with more than 40 Federal legislators, covered topics including the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian Relief Fund of Australia, Nagorno Karabakh, the Armenian-Australian community, Armenian trade and Armenian history.
Mr. Meguerditchian labelled the exhibition ` the first of its kind held in Parliament House ` an important step in introducing Armenia and Armenian issues to Members of Australia's Parliament and Senators.
`The exhibition was particularly important as many legislatures were introduced to our community and the issues that matter for the very first time,' Mr. Meguerditchian said.
ANC Australia Advocacy Week continues in Melbourne, where the delegation will spend the next two days.
On Friday 14 November, Mr. Hamparian will address guests at the ANC Australia banquet (click here for tickets), and on Sunday 16 November, he will address the community at Armenian Family Day (click here for info).
Armenian National Committee of Australia
Senator the Hon Christopher Ellison
Senator for Western Australia
Party: Liberal Party of Australia Parliament Contact:
Phone: (02) 6277 3221 Fax: (02) 6277 5727
Email: senator dot ellison at aph dot gov dot au
Electorate Office: 89 Aberdeen Street Northbridge WA 6003
PO Box 143 Northbridge WA 6865 Phone: (08) 9328 3688
Fax: (08) 9328 3900 Toll Free : 1300 301 846
Who Is Joe Hockey
Joseph Benedict "Joe" Hockey (born 2 August 1965), Australian politician, is the former Federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, in the Howard Government and the current Federal Shadow Minister for Finance, Competition Policy and Deregulation. He is a Liberal member of the Australian House of Representatives, representing the Division of North Sydney since March 1996.
Hockey was born in Sydney, New South Wales. His father, Richard Hockey, who came to Australia in 1948, was born in Bethlehem, then in the British Mandate of Palestine), of Armenian background - the family name was originally Hokeidonian. Hockey attended St Aloysius' College and the University of Sydney, residing at St John's College, where he graduated with degrees in Arts and Law. He was a banking and finance lawyer, and Director of Policy to the Premier of New South Wales, before entering politics.
Hockey was Minister for Financial Services and Regulation 1998-2001 and Minister for Small Business and Tourism 2001-04. In October 2004 he was promoted to the Human Services portfolio, a position he held in addition to his appointment in 2006 as Minister assisting the Minister for Workplace Relations. In the January 2007 Cabinet reshuffle, Hockey was promoted to the cabinet in the position of Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and held that position until the Howard government's defeat at the 2007 election.
Hockey regularly appeared on the Seven Network's morning program Sunrise in the 'Big Guns of Politics' section debating Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd until the arrangement was mutually terminated on the 16 April 2007, following controversy over plans to stage a pre-dawn Anzac Day service in Vietnam.
In December 2007, Joe Hockey was made Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, and Manager of Opposition Business in the House. In September 2008 he became Shadow Minister for Finance, Competition Policy and Deregulation.