NSW Premier defies Gallipoli ban

first_imgPremier Barry O’Farrell has hit back at the Turkish government’s threat to ban NSW politicians from attending ANZAC centenary events in 2015. The threat – made after the NSW Parliament unanimously supported a motion in the Upper House in May recognising genocides perpetrated by the Ottoman empire in WWI – returned to public attention this week, following statements made by Turkey’s Consul-General in Sydney Ms Gulseren Celik. In an interview with the ABC, Ms Celik reiterated Turkey’s unwillingness for NSW MPs to visit Gallipoli for the centenary of ANZAC, and described eye-witness accounts of mass deportations in western Anatolia given by Australian prisoners-of-war as fabrications. After hearing Ms Celik’s comments Mr O’Farrell said: “What a terrible indictment by the consul-general of the freedom that was fought for on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. “The truth will set people free, history should never be denied, otherwise it is likely to be repeated.” The Premier added that he had no plans to travel to Gallipoli, noting the centenary of the ANZAC events would take place a month after the 2015 NSW election, and said that he would prefer descendants of the soldiers who went to Gallipoli to attend the ceremony instead of politicians. A body of evidence from scholars around the world supports the view that between 1915 and 1922 a genocide of Armenians, Pontian Greeks and Assyrians took place – orchestrated by the Ottoman state, which claimed the lives of some 1.5 million people. Turkey disputes the claim. Panayiotis Diamadis, lecturer in Genocide Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney, said the Turkish consul-general’s most recent comments – that Australian POW accounts of witnessing the genocide were fabricated – was deeply concerning. “She’s saying ‘you’re making up these ANZAC testimonies for political purposes’.This woman is calling Australians who were there, liars.” Mr Diamadis told Neos Kosmos that as a diplomatic move, Turkey’s banning of Australian politicians from visiting the Dardanelles was virtually unprecedented. “This is Cold War stuff. To find something similar you have to go back to the Moscow Olympics which America boycotted because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. “This is not an act of friendship, it’s petty and not a mature response.” NSW Minister George Souris expressed his support for Premier O’Farrell’s robust response, “especially in the fundamental principle of our democracy to express whatever views individuals hold, and for the democratically elected Parliament of NSW to express whatever views it decides by majority vote.” Neos Kosmos understands that a number of Federal MPs have suggested a motion should be moved in the next Federal Parliament to recognise the Armenian genocide. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

Read More →