ADELAIDE, Australia–The South Australian Parliament’s Legislative Council passed on Wednesday a motion recognizing the Armenian Genocide as "one of the greatest crimes against humanity," the Armenian National Committee of Australia reported.
An Armenian National Committee of Australia delegation was present as the motion was introduced by David Ridgway, the leader of the Liberal Opposition in the Legislative Council and seconded by Bernard Finnigan, a member of the Labor Government in the Legislative Council. The motion received a unanimous vote by the Upper House of South Australia’s parliament.
The motion is unique, as it is the first to include recognition of recently-uncovered material detailing the significant humanitarian effort by the people of South Australia, who aided the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide almost a century ago.
South Australians, as part of the global Near East Relief effort, answered calls for aid by donating clothing, money and infrastructure – an orphanage in Lebanon which housed the children who survived the genocide.
"I would like to recognize South Australia’s role in the first major international humanitarian relief effort. As was the case for the genocide itself, that effort was not broadly publicized," Ridgway said.
"It goes without saying that such acts as the Armenian genocide epitomize prejudices against race, religion and culture. For most Australians those attitudes are difficult to comprehend but, unfortunately, they remain commonplace in many societies today," he added.
Finnigan also addressed the house in seconding the motion. "In light of growing international awareness of the Armenian genocide – and given the horrific nature of the genocide itself – it is time for we South Australians to do our part," he said.
ANC Australia Political Relations Officer, Vache Kahramanian commended Ridgway, Finnigan and their Legislative Council colleagues for recognizing what he described a "proud intertwining of histories for Armenia’s and Australians."
"It is fitting that South Australia is the first to honor this significant moment in Australian history–the first time this great nation came to the aid of a needy people a whole world away," Kahramanian said. "It is important for nations like Australia to recognize and condemn all acts of genocide, as some – like the Armenian Genocide – remain unpunished."
Ridgway commended the Armenian-Australian community and ANC Australia for their excellent leadership.