Documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request by the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC Australia) confirm that the Australian government continues to be gagged by Turkey on the issue of the Armenian Genocide.
In a letter addressed to then-Foreign Minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, Julie Bishop writes: “Recognising the important interests at stake for both countries, I assure you that there has been no decision to change the long-standing position of successive Australian Governments on this issue.”
The letter from the Australian Foreign Minister further emphasises Turkey’s “gag rule” by qualifying Australia’s position on the Armenian Genocide with the words: “recognising the important interests at stake for both countries”. It has already been revealed that Turkey is currently on an international campaign to gag leading nations from speaking truthfully and honestly on the Armenian Genocide.
A large part of the documents released by the Department of Foreign Affairs were redacted in full, citing disclosure of documents would cause damage to “the international relations of the Commonwealth.”
ANC Australia Executive Director, Vache Kahramanian, commented: “It is obvious that Australia has succumbed to Turkey’s ongoing threats to ban Members of Parliament from attending the Centenary commemorations at ANZAC Cove, and even close ANZAC Cove in its entirety in the lead up to the Centenary, should Australia recognise the events of 1915 as genocide.”
“It is bewildering that the Australian government needs to redact a large number of documents held by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the Armenian Genocide.”
Kahramanian added: “It is clear that Australian government officials continue to succumb to ongoing threats by Turkey and as a result allow a foreign government to dictate Australia’s position on this issue.”
“In this Centenary year, where Australia will commemorate the horrors of World War I, it should also have the moral courage to unequivocally recognise and condemn the Armenian Genocide and pay homage to the thousands of Australia who were at the forefront of providing international aid during and after the Armenian genocide of 1915-1923.”
The release from DFAT can be accessed at .https://dfat.gov.au/foi/downloads/dfat-foi-1410-F953.pdf