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Ministerial Speech: 2022 March for Justice

Today, we march to honour the 1.5 million Armenians who perished at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

We also march to remember the more than 1 million Assyrians and Greeks who also lost their lives.

I can’t even begin to imagine the fear and suffering of these victims persecuted because of their ethnicity and faith.

I find it difficult to comprehend how anyone can carry out such crimes against humanity.

And worst of all, go unpunished for their actions.

And that is why today, on the 107th anniversary of this Genocide, we stop and reflect on this terrible act.

We also remember those brave people who intervened and saved others.

Australia should be proud of its history with the Armenian people.

It was our very own ANZAC soldiers who provided them asylum in their barracks.

Who documented the truth in their journals.

And shared these injustices with their loved one’s back home.

Many Aussie’s sacrificed their lives to do what they could to help.

I am proud of this history and as Australian’s, we should never forget such bravery.

I join you in calling for the Australian Government to recognise the Armenian, Assyrian and Hellenic genocides that took place during World War One and its aftermath.

History can make us uncomfortable about the events of the past.

But being uncomfortable is important for helping us remember what happens when tyranny goes unchecked.

I am proud to be a representative of the New South Wales Parliament who has recognised this terrible atrocity for what it was – a Genocide.

NSW also recognises the independence of the Republic of Artsakh.

Because the history of a persecuted people should not be up for debate.

Today, our great State is home to many of the children, grandchildren and even the great-grandchildren of the victims of this genocide.

And sadly, history has far too many examples of persecution, and ethnic conflict.

As Minister for Multiculturalism, I can tell you first hand that the NSW Government believes that diversity, especially religious diversity, should be both protected and celebrated.

And no one – ever – should have to experience injustice and terror because of it.

The NSW Government works hard to tackle bigotry and prejudice when they arise.

We work to ensure that everyone, regardless of their faith or background, have a place to call home.

A home for people to freely share their language, cultivate their culture and preserve their heritage.

In fact, I believe that the greatest asset to our state is our great diversity.

Just as importantly, though we are here to commemorate those who have passed, I wish to wholeheartedly congratulate each of you today.

I congratulate your efforts to honour your history.

To the many young people here that are paying respect to their ancestors.

I urge you to continue learning your mother tongue, your cultures, traditions and heritage.

And most of all, make sure that these ideals are passed to the generations after you.

The greatest service you can do for victims of genocide, is to ensure the language and customs they fought to preserve are never forgotten.

Also to the organisers of this event, thank you for providing the opportunities for younger generation to engage in their heritage.

Let me say again: the genocides that took place during the dying days of the Ottoman Empire remind us that demonising others can lead to terrible events.

But, by remembering the lessons of history, we avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

I see you, I hear you and I stand with you.

Ladies and gentlemen, I add my voice to your call that the Australian Government acknowledge the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides.