SA Parliament to debate Pontian genocide

SA Parliament to debate Pontian genocide

The South Australian Parliament will be considering a motion to acknowledge the Pontian, Armenian and Assyrian genocides.

Alexandros Logothetis

The South Australian Parliament will debate a motion for the recognition of the Pontian genocide on April 30.

The motion has been introduced by the South Australian Attorney General, Minister of Justice and Multicultural Affairs, Michael Atkinson. If passed the motion will recognise that “the genocide by the Ottoman state between 1915-1923 of Armenians, Hellenes, Syrian Christian and other minorities in Asia Minor is one of the greatest crimes against humanity, the people of South Australia and this House.”

The motion also “condemns and prevents all attempts to use the passage of time to deny or distort the historical truth of the genocide of the Armenians and other acts of genocide committed during this century” and it will call on the Federal Parliament to “officially condemn genocide.”

It is anticipated that this development will ignite a new round of presentations made by the Turkish ambassador in Australia who is already lobbying fiercely against Atkinson.

The ambassador, according to diplomatic sources, has been mounting his pressure for the removal of a plaque in the Migration Museum of Adelaide that commemorates the Pontian genocide.

In a recent story published in The Australian on April 11 it was reported that Turkey has officially complained to the Foreign Minister regarding the speech made by South Australia’s Attorney General Michael Atkinson during the unveiling of the plaque, where he spoke about the Pontian, Armenian and Assyrian genocide that was perpetrated by Turkish nationalists led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The Turkish ambassador, according to the same Australian report, “protested to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith about the “defamation” of his country.” Kemal Ataturk is revered in Turkey as the founder of the modern secular Turkish state. It was further reported that the Minister’s office had outlined the federal government’s position on this issue with a letter sent to South Australian Premier Mike Rann.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed to Neos Kosmos English Edition that a letter was sent on February 11.

Smith indicates in this letter that the Australian Government does not “seek to intervene in the historical dispute.” The letter written in a a neutral tone states: “The Australian Government acknowledges the terrible events at the end of the Ottoman Empire and the devastating effect they have had on subsequent generations, and their identity, heritage and culture.” Yet it stops short of condemning anyone highlighting that “the Government strongly believes that dialogue between the governments and communities of the countries concerned is the best way to address the issue.”

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