SYDNEY: The New South Wales Ecumenical Council, representing 18 leading Christian congregations in Australia’s largest state, has issued a powerful appeal to Foreign Secretary Senator Hon. Penny Wong, urging the federal government to condemn Azerbaijan’s unprovoked military assault on the republics of Artsakh and Armenia, the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) reported.
The letter, co-signed by the President of the Ecumenical Council of New South Wales, Reverend Myung Hwa Park and the Secretary General, Reverend Shenouda Mansour, also called directly on Minister Wong to appeal to the United Nations Security Council to that he supports the Armenian people and the sovereignty of their nation.
The New South Wales Ecumenical Council also took the opportunity to call once again on the Australian government to join more than 31 nations and legislatures in accurately recognizing as genocide the massacres of Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks in 1915 by the Ottoman Turkish government.
The World Council of New South Wales now joins the National Council of Churches in Australia and the Uniting Church of Australia, which earlier this month called on the Australian government to stand with the Armenian nation in the aftermath of Azerbaijan’s attacks on Armenia.
The deep concern of the Armenian-Australian community over Azerbaijan’s military aggression was raised by the Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand, His Eminence Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian during the last meeting of the Heads of Churches of the Council.
The council’s letter stated: “We understand from our member church, the Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand, that a ceasefire has been established in 2020, with the help of the international community. . On September 13, 2022, new military attacks were launched by Azerbaijan against villages and towns bordering the Republic of Armenia, a sovereign state.
“This brutal aggression left hundreds of Armenian soldiers and civilians dead and injured, forcing families to be driven from their homes. More than 40 square kilometers of Armenian sovereign territory are now occupied by Azerbaijan. Such aggression continues to undermine international efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
In their correspondence with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Reverend Park and Reverend Mansour also highlighted Azerbaijan’s attempts at systematic cultural genocide.
“Furthermore, Azerbaijan continues to eliminate the centuries-old Armenian presence in the region by destroying and vandalizing churches, monasteries and heritage monuments and spreading fear and terror,” the letter reads.
The ANC-AU thanked the Ecumenical Council of New South Wales for its long-standing support of the Armenian-Australian community and its concerns about the existential danger faced by its compatriots in their home country.
“It is no coincidence that following the occupation of Artsakh by Azerbaijan, the Armenian nation is even more threatened by a new genocide. We thank the New South Wales Christian community, represented by the Ecumenical Council, who have not ignored the plight of Armenians, but who support our persecuted Armenian brothers,” said ANC-AU Executive Director, Michael Kolokossian.
The letter from Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong expressed concern from 18 church communities, including the Anglican Church, Antiochian Orthodox Church, Armenian Apostolic Church, Assyrian Church of the East, Bruderhof, Congregational Federation of NSW, Coptic Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church. , Greek Orthodox Church, St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church, Australian Lutheran Church, Mar Thoma Church, Religious Society of Friends, Roman Catholic Church (Diocese of Bathurst, Parramatta and Wagga Wagga), Syrian Orthodox Church, Church of India South, Salvation Army Synod and United Church of NSW and ACT.