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28 August 2008

"Unheard Voices: Australia's Role in Iraq's Growing Refugee Crisis"

(pdf Flyer 176kb)


31 August 2008

Refugee and Migrant Sunday Pamphlet

(pdf 181kb)



Australian-Assyrians commemorate life of

Lt General Sir Stanley Savige

by Gaby Kiwarkis




On the 31st of August 2006, Australian-Assyrian community leaders from Sydney and Melbourne gathered at Boorondara cemetery in Kew Victoria to commemorate an Australian General for his remarkable dedication and sacrifice towards the safety of Assyrian refugees during the exodus from Urmia in August 1918.


Lieutenant General Sir Stanley George Savige, at that time a 28 year-old captain serving in the specially assembled Allied unit nicknamed “Dunsterforce”, was second-in-command of a supply column assigned to re-supply the Assyrians fighting in Persia. Unable to complete the task due to the fall of Urmia he nevertheless persisted in his endeavour to assist the Assyrians by persuading his British commander that he should remain with them.


 Opening prayers at the ceremony:

Rev. Fr. Genard Lazar of the Assyrian Church of the East


For six weeks Captain Stanley Savige used all the means at his disposal to protect the refugees against the perpetual onslaught of the Turkish forces. Reasoning that the Turkish commander would concentrate on killing him before harming the refugees, he strategically placed his command at the rear of the refugee procession and deliberately drew enemy fire. By offering his command as a target, even though outnumbered one hundred to one, the captain managed to slow the Turkish advance long enough for most of the refugees to flee. This act of courage and self-sacrifice is far beyond what is expected of a regular junior officer in the field.


One of the many speakers at the ceremony: Mr Sargon Odisho,

Vice President of the Assyrian Australian Association


Stanley Savige was no ordinary soldier; this righteous young man was born in 1890 in Morwell, Victoria. Commissioned in the field, he served in Gallipoli and France where he won the Military Cross in the second battle of Bullecourt. In 1918 he won the DSO for his part in the Assyrian refugee crisis. After the war he established the Legacy Foundation to care for war widows and their children, he rose to the rank of Lt General and was knighted. He passed away on the 15th May 1954 at a young age of sixty three and is now resting at Boorondara cemetery in Kew Victoria.


Representing the Hon. Prime Minister John Howard,

the Hon Petro Georgio lays a wreath at Sir Savige's place of rest.


The ceremony was opened by prayers from the Army chaplain Peter Lyndenmyer and Reverend Genard Lazar of the Assyrian Church of the East while the Army catafalque party stood guard. Lt General Savige was thanked by all speakers including the Hon. Petro Georgio MP representing our Prime Minister the Hon. John Howard, Brigadier Keith Rossi RSL, Lt Colonel Mark Gainsford, Mr John Savige and five Assyrian community representatives. The General was awarded the highest Assyrian medallion and declared a hero by all speakers. A plaque was also accepted by his grandson Mr Stanley Waters on behalf of his Grandfather. After the ceremony, the Assyrian delegation proceeded to his hometown at Morwell where the Mayor Lisa Price unveiled a bronze bust of the General. The Assyrians were invited to attend and speak at this historic occasion to celebrate the life of the great Australian.


Many organisations of the Australian-Assyrian community

were in attendance on the day.


The Assyrian levies Association wishes to thank all participants and attendees, in particular: Assyrian Church of the East, the Prime Minister’s representative the Hon. Petro Georgio MP, the Australian Army, Brigadier Keith Rossi of the Returned Services & League (RSL), Assyrian Australian Association, Assyrian Universal Alliance, Victorian Assyrian Community, Assyrian Australian National Federation, Assyrian Barwer Association, Bet Nahrain Democratic Party, Dr Yaghoub Sayad-Yaghoubi, Assyrian 3zzz Radio, Australian Assyrian Arts & Literature foundation, Liberal Party represented by Mr Andy Rohan, Mr Paul Azzo & Mr Zaya Tomma, FOBKC Association and other individuals. A special thanks to Chaplain Peter Lyndenmyer, Rev. Genard Lazar and Dr Walter Savige.


The Assyrian nation was possibly at the brink of extinction if not for the action of Sir Savige. By the grace of God, this Australian’s intervention helped save 50,000 Assyrian refugees in 1918 when enemy forces were determined to eradicate the remnants of an ancient Christian people. Lt General Sir Stanley George Savige is truly deserving of a special place of honour in the heart of the Assyrian nation.



This commemorative event was organised by Gaby Kiwarkis, President of the Assyrian Levies Association. Mr Kiwarkis’ dedication in promoting the contribution of Assyrian veterans led to discovering the connection between Assyrians and Australia through the good work of Lt General Sir Savige. For more information, visit the Assyrian Levies Association website (click here) or contact Gaby Kiwarkis via email (click here).


Left to right: Army chaplain Peter Lyndenmyer,

Lt Colonel Mark Gainsford and Gaby Kiwarkis


Posted: 03/09/2006





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