House debates

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Constituency Statements

Armenia, Azerbaijan

10:00 am

Photo of Joel FitzgibbonJoel Fitzgibbon (Hunter, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Over the past two months, the Armenian Australian community has been in a state of overwhelming devastation, shock and despair as they've witnessed their homeland desecrated at the hands of Azerbaijani forces including paid, Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries. On 27 September 2020, the enemy forces launched large-scale attacks against Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Watching this unfold from halfway around the world, today Armenian Australians are gathering outside our parliament to demand an end to the carnage being played out in Artsakh. The relative silence of the international community, including us here in Australia, is of course of great concern to those gathering outside parliament today.

Azerbaijan's 44-day military aggression against the indigenous Armenians of Artsakh involved alleged war crimes through the use of cluster and white phosphorus munitions, as well as attacks on Armenian churches, hospitals, civilians and schools. Russia has brokered a ceasefire deal, but it means much of this part of the Armenian Australian community's ancestral homeland is now under occupation. The community represented by the protests outside this building today rejects the ceasefire terms imposed on Armenia and Artsakh as a one-sided deal which ignores the fundamental human right to self-determination of the people of Artsakh, who declared their independence in the 1991 referendum in accordance with international law. Coincidentally, the 29th anniversary of the expression of their democratic rights is tomorrow.

The people of Armenia and Artsakh are reeling from the aftershock of six weeks of violence, with the primary battlefields shifting from the trenches to the cities, where the Armenian community is rallying to help refugees, the injured, the traumatised, the orphaned and the widowed.

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 10 : 03 to 10 : 18

The pathway to a lasting peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh region is international community recognition of the Republic of Artsakh, and Australia should support that recognition. In the meantime, Australia must be more vocal in its condemnation of human rights abuses in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and offer aid to those suffering. If the plight of the Armenians is not enough to compel us to act, reports of Islamist terrorists taking positions on the Iran-Armenia border should.