Armenian Cultural Association of South Australia
Local News - 24-APR-2012
THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE INAUGURAL COMMEMORATION, ADELAIDE 2012
At 6.30 pm on April 24, 2012, the Armenian Cultural Association of South Australia held its inaugural Armenian Genocide Commemoration in the chapel and courtyard of the SA Migrant Museum in Kintore Rd, Adelaide. In attendance were The Hon. Michael Atkinson MP, Mr Tony Zappia (Federal) MP, Ms Anastasia Volis, president of the Pontian Brotherhood of SA, Mr Harry Tavlaridis, immediate past president of the Pontian Brotherhood and Mrs Anastasia Tavlaridis, Mr Andrew Steiner, Adelaide sculptor and Holocaust survivor and Association president Mrs Elena Harrison. An apology came from the Rwandan President of SA, Mr Innocent Munyantwali.
The ceremony began with a welcome from Migration Museum curator Ms Catherine Manning, who acknowledged the Kaurna people as traditional owners and custodians of the land, welcomed the guests and spoke about the Armenian community of SA. The keynote address came from Association president Mrs Elena Harrison, who urged the community to maintain togetherness and to keep the memory of the Genocide alive. “Much has been accomplished,” she said, (but) “the Federal Parliament has still not recognised the Genocide and we, as a community, must continue to seek this new recognition from our new homeland.”
Pontian Brotherhood President Mrs Anastasia Volis spoke in support, commending ACASA on the vibrancy of the community and celebrating the bonds that link the two groups, while echoing the need to maintain unstintingly the memory of the genocide as a crime against humanity that must be acknowledged by its perpetrators. Special guest Mr Andrew Steiner spoke compellingly of his lost childhood in Budapest, Hungary, during World War Two as a result his family’s Jewish faith. He shared his experiences as a young man seeking answers in the historical study of NAZI Germany. Finding none, he reflected that humanity is capable of both the most divine generosity of spirit and the deepest evil imaginable and that the crime of genocide is the most horrendous atrocity that one section of humanity can visit upon another. He concluded that human beings must forever strive towards acceptance of one another. However, we should not ignore the evils of the past, which is almost as bad an indictment as committing those sins.
At the conclusion of the speeches, the assembly moved outside of the chapel to the plaque commemorating the victims of the Armenian Genocide on the outside wall of the Migrant Museum, where Elena Harrison laid the Association’s wreath and led the two minutes’ silence in the memory of those unfortunate Armenians who perished so tragically at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. She concluded: “This is the beginning of our 'flower laying ceremony' which we will foster every year from now on.”
The occasion was rounded off with drinks and an enjoyable light supper provided by Association funds and the industrious efforts of the committee, during which friends old and new were able to connect and reflect in a personal way and in ways that strengthened the bonds that already tie the small but vibrant group of Armenians in Adelaide. Secretary and past ACASA President Alec Balayance commended the occasion as “an excellent Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide”. He commended “the dedication and cooperation from all the committee members”.
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