Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to ceasefire after talks in Moscow
Members of the Armenian Diaspora are known to be fiercely loyal to their homeland, and they remain haunted by the 1915 genocide committed against their people by the Ottoman Empire, or modern Turkey.
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They fear that the current conflict, which they believe is fueled in part by Turkey, could lead to another genocide and they call on Canada to take a stronger position in support of the Armenian people.
“Normally, I’m proud to call myself Canadian, but the last week has been a horrible disappointment,” Chichmanian said in a recent interview in Montreal. “I don’t want tears on Remembrance Day; I need action today. ”
Her two children, aged 12 and 9, are “terrified,” she said. “There isn’t much I can share with them. Their lives are already disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. I don’t want to stress them any more.
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Armenian officials say Turkey is sending Syrian arms and mercenaries to help Azerbaijan. Chichmanian said she would like to see Canada push for Turkey’s withdrawal from NATO.
On October 5, Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Canada had suspended exports of a drone targeting sensor, made in Ontario, to Turkey, as it investigated allegations according to which drones equipped with the sensor would have been used by the current Azeri forces. conflict.
Champagne said he spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, on Friday. “My key message was to stay out of the conflict,” Champagne told reporters.
Almost half of the nearly 64,000 people who identified themselves as Armenians in the 2016 Canadian census live in the Montreal area. As Armenians have integrated into Canadian society, Montrealer Taline Zourikian said the community remains united.
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“We don’t assimilate,” said Zourikian, a psychiatrist who helped organize a protest in Montreal on Thursday. The 50 or so people gathered called on the Canadian media to pay more attention to the conflict.
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“We are the dead of the survivors of the Armenian genocide,” she said, referring to the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. Canada officially recognized and condemned the genocide in 2004.
The region at war, called Nagorno-Karabakh, is predominantly Armenian and has been controlled by the Republic of Artsakh supported by Armenia since 1994. But the government of Artsakh is not recognized internationally and the territory is located in Azerbaijan. .
Kyle Matthews, executive director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University, compares Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan to Germany which is attacking Israel.
Turkey has committed genocide against a minority and is now attacking the homeland of that minority, he said. The Turkish government, Matthews added, has never recognized the Armenian genocide and has jailed people for raising it.
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“The last stage of genocide is denial,” Matthews said in a recent interview. “By being so aggressive, we fear that Turkey will have ulterior motives in this conflict.
“There is now documented evidence that Turkey transported religious and extremist fighters from Syria to Azerbaijan to fight Armenian forces,” said Matthews, who spent two years in the South Caucasus with the United Nations High Commissioner United for Refugees.
The arrival of these fighters worries Lara Aharonian, an Armenian Montrealer who founded the Women’s Resource Center, an NGO that operates in Armenia and in Shusha, a city in Nagorno-Karabakh.
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“It is a direct threat to women living in border areas and conflict zones,” she said in a telephone interview from the Armenian capital Yerevan.
Aharonian and her husband, Raffi Niziblian, have been volunteering in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh since 1999. Her organization helps women overcome trauma from the previous conflict.
She said she was concerned about what will happen to the estimated 75,000 people who have been displaced by the current fighting amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a generation who experienced displacement for the second time in their life,” said Aharonian.
Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a Russian-brokered ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh from Saturday, but immediately accused each other of derailing the deal.
Minutes after the truce went into effect, the Armenian army accused Azerbaijan of bombing the area near the city of Kapan in southeastern Armenia, killing a civilian. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry dismissed the Armenian accusations as a “provocation”.
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Armenian Canadians say the Canadian government must do more before it is too late.
Sevag Belian, the executive director of Canada’s Armenian National Committee, said in a telephone interview that Canada must condemn Turkey and Azerbaijan.
“Because if we don’t hold the aggressors accountable, they will continue to commit their crimes with impunity.” he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 11, 2020.
– With files from The Associated Press and Mike Blanchfied with The Canadian Press
© 2020 The Canadian Press