SYDNEY — New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell and other state MPs have hit out at Turkish government threats to ban them from the Gallipoli centenary celebration, reports Australian ABC tv channel.
The Turkish threats were made after the NSW Parliament gave unanimous support in May for a motion recognising the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides between 1915 and 1922.
The country’s consul general in Sydney says the motion has damaged relations between the two countries, and accounts of atrocities from ANZAC prisoners of war are fabrications.
Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said Mr O’Farrell and other NSW MPs will not be issued visas to attend the Gallipoli centenary. “These persons who try to damage the spirit of Canakkle/Gallipoli will also not have their place in the Canakkale ceremonies where we commemorate our sons lying side by side in our soil,” he said.
The local council at Gallipoli has also made it clear the critics will not be welcome at the centenary celebrations in 2015. “We announce to the public that we will not forgive those who are behind these decisions and that we don’t want to see them in Canakkale anymore,” it said.
But Mr O’Farrell says the facts cannot be denied. “What a terrible indictment by the consul general of the freedom that was fought for on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915,” the Premier said.
“The truth will set people free, history should never be denied, otherwise it is likely to be repeated.”
NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian is of Armenian background and its equally defiant. “What makes us so unique as Australians is our ability, whether you are member of parliament or a member of the public, to express your views freely,” she said
“That freedom is exactly what was fought for in Gallipoli in 1915.”