August 8, 2018 - 10:22 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Armenian National Committee of New Zealand (ANC-NZ) has called on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to correct her government's "denialist appeasing" position on the Armenian Genocide, after she was asked to articulate it during her weekly press conference on Monday 6th August 2018.
Ardern was answering journalists' questions at New Zealand Parliament House, when a journalist asked her government's position on the Armenian Genocide.
Ardern responded to the journalist: "We have always acknowledged the significant, tragic and large-scale loss of life of the Armenian people at the time of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. We have and we continue to do so, but when it comes to those issues around terminology and so on, those are issues we have left for a reconciliation process between those parties who are involved. But we have always acknowledged the significant loss of life."
The journalist followed up with a question, asking whether the government held that position, because of a deterioration in their relationship with Turkey.
Ardern said: "This is more to the fact that we leave it to those directly involved to work through those issues through that reconciliation process. But of course New Zealand has always acknowledged that large scale loss of life."
The questions were prompted because the newly launched ANC-NZ was in Parliament on the day of the press conference, where Armenian Genocide documentary Intent to Destroy would be screened later that evening, featuring a pre-screening keynote address by Turkish historian, Professor Taner Akcam.
ANC-NZ Chairperson, Hoory Yeldizian called the Prime Minister's position "unacceptable" to the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian communities of New Zealand, many of whom are descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide.
"Frankly, Armenians in New Zealand are disappointed by our government's denialist appeasing position on the Armenian Genocide, as outlined by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during her press conference," said Armenian National Committee of New Zealand Chairperson, Hoory Yeldizian.
"To state that New Zealand acknowledges the tragic, large-scale loss of life, but it leaves the 'terminology' - genocide - for resolution between Armenia and its denialist, border-blocking, dictatorship neighbour in Turkey, is Prime Minister Ardern kicking this important human rights issue for touch. And kicking it for touch in this case means pandering to a foreign dictatorship in Turkey."
Yeldizian added: "If Germany hadn't recognised the Jewish Holocaust, should New Zealand call on displaced Jews to negotiate with a denialist German State on whether it was genocide or not? If ISIS doesn't recognise the Yazidi genocide, would this justify a call for victim communities to negotiate with their perpetrators to achieve recognition and justice? Of course not. We New Zealanders stand for fairness on human rights, and our we expect our nation's leaders to stand with truth and justice instead of foreign bullying, with the knowledge that the final step of genocide is its denial."
Yeldizian said Armenian-New Zealanders are calling for a change.
"We call on Prime Minister Ardern to change her government's stance," the Auckland resident said. "We look forward to working with the her on this issue, and correcting New Zealand's position on the Armenian Genocide. We also look forward to sharing with her how our ANZACs helped save Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians during the genocide, and how Kiwis across the country helped them by providing critical humanitarian aid 100 years ago."
ANC-NZ launched with a day of advocacy that involved the above, media coverage in the mainstream New Zealand press, the Intent to Destroy film screening, as well as advocacy meetings with individual MPs from Labour, Nat and green parties.