Last Sunday May 20, 2012 marked the official unveiling of the Armenian, Assyrian and Pontian Greeks genocide monument in South Australia.
The memorial was conducted by three brotherly organisations; the Pontian Brotherhood of South Australia; the Armenian Cultural Association of South Australia; and the Assyrian Universal Alliance-Australian Chapter.
The genocide perpetrated against the Christian population of Anatolia claimed the lives of one and half million Armenians, half a million of Pontian Greeks and 750,000 Assyrians, a shameful act by the Ottoman Empire in its final years.
Commemoration began with a mass in memory of victims of the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian genocide which was held at St. Dimitrios Greek Orthodox Church of Salisbury. Conducted by Bishop Nikandros of Doryleon and Reverent Fathers Christos Tsoraklidis and Silouan Fotineas, and was attended by more than 20 representatives from Local, State and Federal Government.
After a blessing prayer by the bishop of Greek Orthodox Church, all guests moved to the vicinity of the genocide monument, to start the unveiling ceremony. The formal proceedings began with the Australian, Greek, Armenian and the Assyrian national anthems and speeches. Finally, the monument was unveiled with pride by representatives of the three organizations who participated in the creation of the memorial.
Mr. Hermiz Shahen, Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, thanked members of the Monument Project Committee who worked hard to bring the project to reality.
"Today's unveiling of this extraordinary monument which honours the victims of the Greeks, Assyrian and Armenian genocide, is a significant event in the life of the three nations and our communities in Australia and abroad; communities that have been established as a direct result of the continuous assaults on their nation," he said.
Mr. Shahen urged the Australian Federal Government, as well as to other countries, to condemn these heinous acts committed against the Christian citizens of Anatolia, and to pressure Turkey to acknowledge and apologise for the atrocities its Ottoman leaders committed against their Assyrian, Armenian and Pontic Greek citizens during World War I.
The Assyrian Universal Alliance Delegation also included; Mr David David, President of Assyrian Australian National Federation; Mr. Ben Jabro , Executive Board of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and Mr Paul Azzo, Adviser to the Assyrian Universal Alliance of Australia.
Ms. Anna Volis, President of the Pontian Brotherhood of South Australia, thanked all the government departments, institutions and volunteers who have contributed to the success of this project and blessed this convergence that delivered this remarkable achievement, which was the result of the ongoing work between the three communities of the Armenians, Pontian Greeks and Assyrians, and demanded that our institutions abroad to follow the lead in unifying their voices in demanding the recognition of the genocide that was perpetrated against all Christian peoples in Anatolia by the Ottoman Turkey.
Ms Elena Harrison, President of the Armenian Cultural Association of South Australia in her address made reference to the dramatic story behind the construction of the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, Armenia and how patriotism and pain united people; when the Kremlin finally agreed to have a Genocide Memorial built. The Soviet Union allowed only half the finance and a short time to build such a large memorial.
Without invitation or demand people came in busloads from different regions and cities of Armenia in order to lend a hand. Most of them were descendants of Armenians who had lived in different regions of Turkish Western Armenia. Whatever work they did, they did it with pleasure and when they had nothing to do they sang patriotic songs. They used the same indomitable spirit that helped us to survive through the dark pages of our history.
"I can proudly say that this spirit is still alive today not just in the Armenian community here in South Australia, but with my Pontian Greek and Assyrian brothers and sisters," she said.
"My hope is that this monument in Salisbury, South Australia, will become a shrine for our three nations to remember our fallen ancestors."