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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 18 April 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 18 APRIL 2015 5 NEWS Sydney Assyrian memorial vandalised Attack linked to Pope Francis’ statement on Armenian genocide A memorial in Sydney's western suburbs to hundreds of thousands of Assyrians who died during World War I has been defiled by vandals who painted swastikas and offensive slogans on the monument. The memorial, erected by Assyrian community leaders in Bonnyrigg, refers to the killing of 750,000 Assyrians by Ottoman troops as 'genocide'. The spray-paint attack is believed to have taken place in the early hours of Wednesday morning, after which the words ‘F--- Armenians, Assyrians and Jews’ were found scrawled across it. Local police are investigating the incident. The Bonnyrigg Park monument has been vandalised four times since it was erected in 2010. According to the Assyrian Universal Alliance, the Turkish government backed the local Turkish community's attempts to block approval of the memorial by Fairfield Council. The alliance has strongly condemned the vandalism and asked that the perpetrators be brought to justice, but the group also called for calm and asked the community to refrain from passing judgment on a specific cultural group. "We call upon the authorities to be diligent in identifying the responsible parties," the alliance said in a statement. The vandalism is likely to be linked to the highly-publicised statement by Pope Francis last Sunday when he described the massacre of Armenians in WWI by Turkish forces as genocide, at a mass to mark the centenary of the killings. The comment incensed Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who took to Twitter to admonish the Pope's use of the word 'genocide', which he said was "unacceptable" and "out of touch with both historical facts and legal basis". Meanwhile the Armenian National Committee of Australia said it condemned the vandalism of the Fairfield memorial which had "been directed towards the Jewish, Armenian and Assyrian communities". "We call on authorities to fully investigate this matter and hold the perpetrators to account, and will be working with them to ensure this is done". ‘False history’ claim over Anzac monument Turkish-Australian memorial text attracts criticism MICHAEL SWEET An online petition organised by the ‘Greek Genocide Resource Centre’ to the City of Melbourne and the Victorian RSL is asking for a quotation attributed to Kemal Ataturk to be removed from a new memorial near Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance, despite the quote being used on Anzac Parade in Canberra. The Turkish-Australian Friendship Memorial, that was unveiled this week b Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, includes a text - often referred to as Ataturk's 'Ode to Australian mothers' - attributed to the Turkish commander at Gallipoli. The text is an extract of the inscription on the Kemal Ataturk memorial in Canberra which reads: "Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives ... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours ... you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well." However, some hardline critics in the Greek Australian community say that while the Seeds of Hope monument is an initiative of reconciliation, the inclusion of the quote "promotes false history" and makes the memorial's design "antithetical The Seeds of Hope sculpture that makes up the Turkish-Australian Friendship Memorial in Birdwood Avenue. to core Australian values". Mr Aris Tsilfidis, who runs the Greek Genocide Resource Centre (a website and Facebook page with 4,000 followers), told Neos Kosmos that studies by Australian historians have revealed that there is scant evidence that Ataturk ever made the statement. "Since Dr Peter Stanley, one of Australia's most active military-social historians ... seriously doubts its validity, then it really should be removed until credible evidence is found that Ataturk actually said it, and actually addressed it to Australians," said Mr Tsilifidis. "Can we have a friendship between two countries based on myth? I have nothing against a Turkish-Australian friendship memorial. It's just the quote we're questioning." Genocide Studies lecturer Panayiotidis Diamadis told Neos Kosmos that the call to have the text removed from the Kings Domain monument was driven by the need for historical accuracy. "Memorials of this sort play an important role in shaping public memory. Accuracy in the messages they convey is therefore of the utmost importance. Mustafa Kemal never said nor wrote those words. Therefore, they have no place on any memorial in Australia." Mr Diamadis added that a question remained as to whether memorials should be created in Australia "to an individual who established and operated a one-party dictatorship from 1920 to his death in 1923 … and an individual responsible for the deaths of so many Christian - Hellene, Armenian and Assyrian - citizens of the Otto- man Empire and its successor, the Republic of Turkey." The 3.8-metre sculpture Seeds Of Friendship is a Turkish Australian community project commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in 2015, and honours the close relationship between Australia and Turkey. Commissioned by the Turkish Sub-Branch of the Victorian RSL, the sculpture includes two hand-carved granite seed cones, a pine from Turkey and a casuarina from Australia, to represent the fallen, the seeds of friendship and the future. Trentham-based sculptor Matthew Harding - who was awarded $300,000 to create the sculpture - describes the monument as "a symbol of regeneration and vitality and of the living memory and embodiment of hope." ‘The expulsion of the Greeks was ethnic cleansing’ The vandalised memorial at Bonnyrigg Park. PHOTO COURTESY ANCA. The expulsion of the Greeks was ethnic cleansing, but it wasn't genocide, claims Paul Monk, an author and former senior intelligence analyst and commentator on public and international affairs in his latest opinion piece in Melbourne's newspaper The Age. In the same article Mr Monk says the killing of well over one million Armenian and Assyrian Christians in 191516 was perpetrated by the Muslim Turkish government. "Good relations with the current Muslim Turkish government cannot be based on pretending that none of this hap- pened," he writes. He also claims "the expulsion of the Greeks was ethnic cleansing, but it wasn't genocide. What happened to the Armenians and Assyrians in 1915-16 is another matter. They were deported wholesale from within their homelands and, in the process, ei- ther starved or slaughtered in very large numbers. The lowest estimates for Armenian dead are in the order of 800,000 and run as high as 1.5 million; while an estimated 250,000 Assyrians were also massacred. Pope Francis drew attention to this in the current Islamic State context".
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