The Green Party is calling on New Zealand’s Parliament to officially recognise the deaths of Armenians in Turkey during World War One as genocide.
But the issue is contentious. Some estimates put the number of deaths as high as 1.5 million
Turkey denies it was genocide and says the victims were war casualties. It says there was no systematic attempt to destroy the Christian Armenian people.
But Armenian Kiwis say it’s time for New Zealand to take a strong stance.
“We’ve seen history repeat itself on many occasions and this will continue if we don’t recognise our past,” Hoory Yeldizian, chairperson of the Armenian National Committee of New Zealand said.
Several countries have labelled it a genocide, including Holland, Germany and some Australian States. New Zealand hasn’t.
But Green MP Gareth Huges plans to put forward a motion in Parliament to change that.
“I’m asking all of Parliament to support it. It has a link to our history,” he told 1 NEWS.
At her post-Cabinet press conference today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand has always acknowledged a significant loss of life.
“When it comes to those issues around terminology and so on, those are issues that we have left for a reconciliation process for those parties that are involved,” she said.
Historians put down the first round-up of Armenians as beginning on April 24 1915; the day before the Gallipoli landings.
Experts say that historic link is exactly why New Zealand should call it a genocide.
“New Zealand soldiers recorded the genocide in their memoirs and in their diaries and then brought those stories back home with them,” historian James Robins said.
A documentary, Intent to Destroy, will be screened in the New Zealand Parliament theatrette tonight and visiting experts and Armenian Community members will hold discussions following the screening.