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The campaign for official recognition of the Armenian Genocide is revving up in Australia and New Zealand.  Ahead of April 24, 2015, the Armenian communities of Australia and New Zealand have joined efforts with Len Wicks, the author of “Origins: Discovery” historical novel, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) associate and citizen of the two countries, to achieve the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Australian and New Zealand governments, Mediamax reports.

 

Back in 2014, Len Wicks sent letters to the Foreign Ministers of Australia and New Zealand Julie Bishop and Murray McCully asking them to clarify the countries’ official stances on the Armenian Genocide and whether official Canberra and Wellington were going to recognize the Armenian Genocide by April 2015.  

 

In his letter to the Australian FM, Len Wicks particularly wrote: 

 

”Regarding the letter from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) dated 19 December 2014 in response to my letter to the Prime Minister dated 4 October 2014, a reply is necessary. This is because the DFAT letter unfortunately failed to answer the fundamental question of how it is possible that Hon. Tony Abbott MP could express his genuine position in recognising the Armenian Genocide as Leader of the Opposition in his letter of 19 April 2013, and yet as Australian Prime Minister, he and DFAT have failed to ensure that Australia as a nation recognises the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Genocides? 

 

Either the Prime Minister has changed his mind (and if this is the case it should be clearly stated as such), or there is a difference between the views of the Australian Prime Minister and that of his Foreign Minister. For the avoidance of doubt so we may ensure that every Armenian, Greek, Assyrian (and for that matter, Christian) voter knows, I am again asking what the Prime Minister’s current position is on this matter”.

 

In reply to his letter, the Australian Foreign Ministry noted that they “recognize the tragic human losses and the suffering of the Armenian people, and the events and losses won’t be forgotten”. 

 

In reply to the letter of the Armenian Genocide defender, the New Zealand Foreign Ministry noted that “the events of the World War I and the subsequent dissolution of the Ottoman Empire were traumatic for all its constituent peoples, including Turks, Greeks, and Armenians”.

“During this period, the Armenian population suffered enormous losses in the process of their forced displacement.  The New Zealand Government considers it important that historical injustices – including those perpetrated against the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire – be acknowledged appropriately. It is also our view that the discussions over the appropriate terminology for the traumatic past between the Turkish and Armenian peoples are best resolved in the context of a broader process of reconciliation…New Zealand sincerely supports the reconciliation process”, the response of the New Zealand Foreign Ministry dated December 2014 reads this.

 

However, Len Wicks wasn’t happy with the reply. In his new letter, he asked the Australian Foreign Ministry to clearly answer what they meant by “broader process of reconciliation”: will New Zealand recognize the Armenian Genocide till April 24, 2015, and will the New Zealand government representative attend the events dedicated to the centennial of Gallipoli victory?

 

Owing to Len Wicks’ consistent efforts, historians working in the New Zealand government made some corrections in their texts on massacres of Armenians during the World War I. In particular, the official text on the Armenian Genocide presented to the government earlier noted that the genocide of Armenians had been the Ottoman Empire’s response to the revolts of Armenians. 

 

Recently, Len Wicks have sent an open letter to the MPs of the New Zealand and Australian parliaments urging them not to attend the events dedicated to the Gallipoli victory centennial and recognize the Armenian Genocide. He attached Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s reply to the Turkish President containing Sargsyan’s refusal to attend the Gallipoli event to the letter addressed to the MPs. 

 

Yekaterina Poghosyan 

February 11, 2015