February 3rd, 2015

Great news for multiculturalism and harmony

Multicultural NSW (CRC) Adopts guidelines on Recognition of Historical Events

Multicultural NSW (formerly known as Community Relations Commission) has recently adopted a new set of guidelines for local and state governments about “Recognition of Historical Events” . Click here for a PDF of full guidelines..

While expressing the importance of the “respect the right of free speech and expression of opinion” Multicultural NSW also asks the local and state governments to “consider the impact of their decision to community harmony” and “ensure it does not contribute to victimisation of any individual group” and “it is consistent with the foreign policy positions, as determined by the Commonwealth Government” when “recognising an historical event”.

Multicultural NSW reminds that “45 per cent of NSW population were either born overseas or have at least one parent who was born overseas” and warns that it is likely that people have many different views about the historical events that occurred in their homelands which can cause division in the community.

Multicultural NSW defines the “recognition of historical events” as “Speeches, public statements, commemorative events, establishment of physical memorials such as plaques, statues, building and dedicated park lands.”

Ironically, the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Victor Dominello and Prime Minister Tony Abbott when he was in opposition and as Health Minister at Howard Government, have attended the unveiling of such memorials and many such commemorative events in various places in Sydney, including the so-called “Assyrian Genocide Memorial” in Bonnyrigg Heights which caused widespread division in the community.

The monument blames the Turks as responsible for an “Assyrian genocide” in 1914, which ATA-A defines as an “anti-Turkish political claim that no international court agrees with”.

Another monument exists in Ryde, at the home electorate of the Minister for Multicultural Affairs himself!

The so-called “Armenian Genocide Memorial” this time blames the Turks for an “Armenian Genocide” in 1915.

While acknowledging and sharing the pain of the events of 1915, Turkish Australians refute the characterisation of these events as “genocide”.

Australian Government also shares the same view. In a letter written to ATA-A in July 2014, Hon Julie Bishop openly declared that “Australia does not recognise these events as ‘genocide’.” and “state parliaments cannot dictate foreign policy of the Commonwealth”.

European Court of Human Rights also agrees that these events do not fall into the ‘genocide definition’ of the ‘UN Genocide Convention in 1948’. But even this did not stop the far-right MLC Rev. Fred Nile and the resigned Premier Barry O’farrell passing a motion in the NSW Parliament recognising the events of 1915 as ‘genocide’ in May 2013 without any consultation with the Turkish Australian community and with only 2 hours public notice.

ATA-A CEO Ertunc Ozen says : “We applaud Multicultural NSW for protecting harmony within our community. We hope these guidelines will remind politicians of the damage they can do when they seek to make a political football out of historical events..”

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Australia Turkish Advocacy Alliance