Turkish Vandalism Forces Name Change in Assyrian Memorial Plaque
Fairfield, Australia -- A controversial plaque commemorating Australian and Assyrian forces fighting side by side is set to be recast with a word change in an effort to quell ethnic tensions and constant vandalism.
The Assyrian Levies Association plaque in Fairfield Park, which was removed by vandals in March and splashed with paint last September, will be replaced next month with the word "Turkey" changed to "Ottoman" after a complaint was made to council.
Assyrian Levies Association president Gaby Kiwarkis said the Assyrian community were up in arms after the latest act of vandalism in March but wanted to keep the situation calm.
"They wanted to demonstrate," he said. "I had to tell people to calm down and do it the right way.
"It's not about politics when you are remembering the dead."
Mr Kiwarkis, who helped negotiate the change, said the Turkish community originally asked for several changes but eventually agreed on the one.
"In 1918 Turkey was not there so we took out the word Turkey, after that they were happy, so I thought great." he said. "In the beginning they asked for a great deal of changes, but there were so many changes it killed the story."
Liberal councillor Zaya Toma said the reason for the delay in fixing the war memorial's plaque was due to negotiations and the March state election.
"We wanted to avoid any tensions so we just let it go and quietly fixed it," he said. "We are trying to state a historical fact documented in the diaries of Australians."
By Brian Karlovsky