Armenian diaspora in Canada says Ottawa should act to stop a second genocide


MONTREAL – The continuing battle between Armenia and Azerbaijan is bodily and emotionally distant to most Canadians, however for Montrealer Talar Chichmanian, the struggle is the second time for the reason that 1990s her household has taken up arms.

Her husband left Montreal to hitch the Armenian forces, who’ve been battling the Azerbaijani military since Sept. 27 in a struggle that has left a whole bunch lifeless. That is his second struggle for a similar piece of land within the South Caucasus. The earlier battle, which led to 1994, killed his father, brother and uncle.

Members of the Armenian diaspora are recognized for being fiercely loyal to their dwelling nation, they usually stay haunted by the 1915 genocide dedicated towards their individuals by the Ottoman Empire, or modern-day Turkey.

They concern the present battle, which they are saying is fuelled partially by Turkey, will result in one other genocide and are they calling on Canada to take a stronger place supporting the Armenian individuals.

“Usually, I am proud to name myself a Canadian, however this previous week has been a horrible disappointment,” Chichmanian mentioned in a latest interview from Montreal. “I do not need tears on Remembrance Day; I would like motion at present.”

Her two youngsters, who’re 12 and 9 years previous, are “terrified,” she mentioned. “There’s solely a lot that I can share with them. Their lives are already disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. I do not need to stress them out much more.”

Armenian officers say Turkey is sending arms and Syrian mercenaries to assist Azerbaijan. Chichmanian mentioned she’d prefer to see Canada push for Turkey’s removing from NATO.

On Oct. 5, International Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne mentioned Canada had suspended exports of a drone-targeting sensor, made in Ontario, to Turkey, because it investigates allegations that drones outfitted with the sensor have been use by Azeri forces within the ongoing battle.

Champagne mentioned he spoke Friday to his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu. “My key message was keep out of the battle,” Champagne advised reporters.

Almost half of the just about 64,000 individuals who recognized themselves as Armenian within the 2016 Canadian census dwell within the Montreal space. Whereas Armenians have built-in into Canadian society, Montrealer Taline Zourikian mentioned the neighborhood stays tight-knit.

“We do not assimilate,” mentioned Zourikian, a psychiatrist who helped arrange a protest in Montreal on Thursday. The roughly 50 individuals who gathered referred to as on the Canadian media to pay extra consideration to the battle.

“We’re decedents of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide,” she mentioned, referring to the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. Canada formally acknowledged and condemned the genocide in 2004.

The area at struggle, referred to as Nagorno-Karabakh, is majority Armenian and has been managed by the Armenian-backed Republic of Artsakh since 1994. However Artsakh’s authorities just isn’t acknowledged internationally and the territory is positioned inside Azerbaijan.

Kyle Matthews, the manager director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Research at Concordia College, compares Turkey’s help for Azerbaijan to Germany attacking Israel.

Turkey dedicated genocide towards a minority and is now attacking that minority’s homeland, he mentioned. The Turkish authorities, Matthews added, has by no means acknowledged the Armenian genocide and has jailed individuals for bringing it up.

“The ultimate stage of genocide is denial,” Matthews mentioned in a latest interview. “By being this aggressive, there’s concern that Turkey has ulterior motives on this battle.

“There’s now documented proof that Turkey has been ferrying spiritual, extremist fighters from Syria into Azerbaijan to struggle Armenian forces,” mentioned Matthews, who spent two years within the South Caucasus with the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees.

The arrival of these fighters is a priority for Lara Aharonian, an Armenian Montrealer who based the Girls’s Useful resource Heart, an NGO that operates in Armenia and in Shusha, a metropolis in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“It is a direct risk to girls dwelling in border areas and battle zones,” she mentioned 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 group helps girls overcome trauma from the earlier battle.

She mentioned she’s nervous about what is going to occur to the estimated 75,000 individuals who have been displaced by the present preventing amid of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s a era who has skilled displacement for the second time of their lives,” Aharonian mentioned.

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a Russia-brokered ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh beginning Saturday, however instantly accused one another of derailing the deal.

Minutes after the truce took drive, the Armenian army accused Azerbaijan of shelling the world close to the city of Kapan in southeastern Armenia, killing one civilian. Azerbaijan’s Protection Ministry rejected the Armenian accusations as a “provocation.”

Armenian Canadians say the Canadian authorities must do extra earlier than it is too late.

Sevag Belian, the manager director of the Armenian Nationwide Committee of Canada, mentioned in a telephone interview Canada must condemn Turkey and Azerbaijan.

“As a result of if we do not maintain the aggressors accountable, they’ll proceed committing their crimes with impunity.” he mentioned.

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Oct. 11, 2020.

— With information from The Related Press and from Mike Blanchfied with The Canadian Press