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Armenian-Australians protest over ‘disappointing’ conflict response

Sydney, Oct. 6, (dpa/GNA) – Hundreds of protesters from the Armenian-Australian community gathered in Canberra on Tuesday, calling on the government to condemn attacks on Armenians amid intense fighting with neighbouring Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Around 500 demonstrators turned up at the Azerbaijan embassy in the capital, according to news agency Australian Associated Press (AAP).
The Armenian National Committee of Australia, which organized the protest, has criticized a « disappointing » statement from Australia’s foreign affairs minister Marise Payne last week that failed to « call out the perpetrators of the attacks. »
Clashes in the south of the Nagorno-Karabakh region had entered their ninth day on Monday.
The region, considered by the United Nations as part of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan, has been held by Christian Armenian forces for decades.
Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a war over the territory in the late 1980 and early 1990s as they transitioned into independent countries amid the dissolution of the Soviet Union, with an estimated death toll in the tens of thousands.
More than 200 people have been reported killed in the latest flare-up, the bloodiest fighting between the neighbouring countries in the past four years.
The statement from Payne simply said the Australian government was « concerned by the renewed fighting, » and urged both parties to show restraint.
« Canberra can’t sit on the fence as hundreds of innocent peace-loving indigenous Armenians are being bombed to their deaths, » Armenian National Committee of Australia director Haig Kayserian said, as cited by AAP.
According to the committee, the Armenian community in Australia is estimated to be 50,000.