By MATTHEW BUCKLEY.
A memorial to the genocides was unveiled at the Mausoleum of Holy Family in Salisbury Downs on May 20 to remember the genocide committed by the Ottoman Turkish government from 1915 to 1923.
Despite the genocide of Armenian, Assyrian and Pontic Greek communities being well-documented and affirmed by legal scholars and historians, the Turkish government actively denies they occurred.
Members of the Australia’s Armenian, Assyrian, Greek and Indigenous Australian communities gave speeches at the unveiling alongside representatives from both sides of State Parliament.
South Australian Treasurer Jack Snelling, representing South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, said in 2009 South Australia was the first parliament outside of the Hellenic Republic to recognise the genocides.
“Since then, twenty countries have joined South Australia in officially recognising these genocides,” he said.
“Beyond honouring the suffering of people, nations and faiths, we owe it to humanity to remember these things.
“The new monument in Salisbury Park is part of this necessary and admirable international exercise in truth-telling.”
Mr Snelling added that the memorial’s conception and completion is a great credit to the communities represented at the unveiling.
“These communities have demonstrated moral clarity and unity of purpose in pursuing a cause that they know, and we know, to be right,” Mr Snelling said.
South Australian Minister for Multicultural Affairs Jennifer Rankine said the genocides that occurred are not beyond belief.
“They did happen,” Ms Rankine said.
“Their effects still echo down through the generations and the descendants of those who perished continue rightfully to seek some measure of historical reckoning.”
Ms Rankine also praised the Assyrian, Armenian and Pontic Greek communities.
“This project makes a profound statement about the value of different communities working together for a common good,” she said
“The Armenian, Assyrian, and Pontian organisations represented amongst us today have demonstrated by their actions exceptional leadership in multiculturalism.
“Motivated by empathy, determination and a desire to be constructive, like-minded peoples have come together and realised their shared vision.”
During her speech, Ms Rankine announced the donation of $5000 from the State Government towards the monument.
Leader of the Opposition Isobel Redmond said during her speech that the Ottoman genocide lacks the recognition seen with the Nazi Holocaust.
“The expressed intention to ‘Solve the Greek problem’ during the war sounds all too similar to Hitler’s intention to ‘solve the Jewish problem’ in World War Two, yet in the case of the attempted Nazi extermination of the Jewish population we have international recognition of the genocide,” she said.
“Indeed, legal consequences for anyone who dares to question itbut in the case of the Pontic or Ottoman genocide it seems almost the opposite.
“An almost complete failure internationally to recognise the systematic slaughter of possibly as many as two million people.”
Greek Consul-General in South Australia Christos Maniakis-Grivas added that during the genocide up to 100,000 people were killed under the policy by the Ottoman government.
“The systematic massacre and deportation of Greeks in Asia Minor and Pontus, a program which had come into effect in 1914, was a precursor to the atrocities perpetrated by Turkish armies during the Greco-Turkish War, a conflict which followed the Greek landing at Smyrna in May 1919 and continued until the retaking of Symrna by the Turks and the Great Fire of Smyrna in September 1922,” he said.
“An estimated 50 000 to 100 000 Greeks and Armenians perished in the fire and accompanying massacres.
“150 000 to 200 000 Greeks were expelled after the fire, while about 30 000 able-bodied Greek and Armenian men were deported to the interior of Turkey, most of whom were executed on the way or died under brutal conditions.”
The monument unveiling in memorial of the genocide consists of a life-size crucifix, a platform and a plaque.
The plaque reads:
This monument is dedicated to the memory of millions of Christians, massacred or deported from their ancestral lands through a series of genocides committed by the Ottoman Turks between 1914 and 1923.
• 1 500 000 Armenians
• 1 000 000 Greeks of Asia Minor
• 500 000 Pontian Greeks
• 800 000 Assyrians
Photo: Assyrian Universal Alliance