On the 106th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian National Committee of New Zealand (ANC-NZ) have called on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Government to formally recognise the mass murder of over 1.5 million Armenians as Genocide.
In the lead up to April 24, the ANC-NZ have written a letter on behalf of the broader Armenian-New Zealand community to call on Wellington to stand with over 30 nations around the world and correctly characterise the Armenian Genocide.
In 2018, Prime Minister Ardern announced her Government’s position on the Armenian Genocide following questions from probing journalists at a press conference. She referred to the events as “tragic” and simply acknowledged the “large scale loss of life” without calling the massacres of Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks a genocide.
In 2020, high-profile New Zealand resident Serj Tankian – the frontman of Grammy award-winning rock band System of a Down – brought national media attention to New Zealand’s kowtowing to the Turkish dictatorship of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when he called on then-Foreign Minister Winston Peters to recognise the Armenian Genocide.
The ANC-NZ letter highlights the well-documented link that the Armenian Genocide had with the New Zealand people, which more recently was brought to light by award-winning journalist and historian James Robins in his book ‘When We Dead Awaken: Australia, New Zealand and the Armenian Genocide’.
ANC-NZ Chairperson Hoory Yeldizian said: “The New Zealand Government must honour our history and the memory of so many of our brave and courageous ANZACs, such as Alexander Nimmo and Robert Nicol, who risked their lives in aiding and protecting survivors of the Armenian Genocide.”
“The Armenian-New Zealand community was left extremely disappointed following the comments from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in 2018.”
Yeldizian added: “However, this year, we remain hopeful that Prime Minister Ardern will use the correct terminology when referencing the Armenian Genocide and end what is a genocide denialist-appeasing policy.”
“New Zealand has always stood for human rights, having recognised the Jewish Holocaust, the Cambodian Genocide and the Rwandan Genocide. It is time we see our Prime Minister recognise this crime against humanity which was in fact the first Genocide of the 20th century.”
The Armenian National Committee of New Zealand has received an interim response from the Office of the Prime Minister, which noted their letter has also been passed on to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Hon. Nanaia Mahuta.
Recently, the Armenian National Committee of Australia also wrote to their Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this month, requesting his statement on the occasion of the 106th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide to accurately characterize the occasion.