Canadian-Armenians want better coverage of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Hundreds gather in second day of protests, condemn “lazy journalism”

Protesters stand outside the offices of The Montreal Gazette and Global Montreal, demanding more coverage by Canadian media on the events happening in Artsakh. Courtesy Talia Margossian

Montreal’s Armenian community assembled in force on Ste. Catherine St. Friday, as part of a three day protest of Canadian media’s coverage of events in Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh.

Several hundred protesters gathered in front of the Dominion Square building, whose principal tenants are the Montreal Gazette and Global News. Thursday’s protest took place at the foot of Maison Radio-Canada, which houses broadcast headquarters for French-language media services of the CBC.

The three day long protest is holding Canadian media accountable for their lack of coverage of the conflict. Courtesy Talia Margossian

Canadian-Armenian community leaders are frustrated with the Canadian Press’ “surface-level” reporting of events; saying it lacks context and explanations as to why this conflict represents a serious threat to democracy and Armenian subsistence in the region.

“The Canadian press needs to inform the Canadian public about total war being waged against the peaceful Armenian people,” said speaker Aram Shoujounian.

The Armenian forces defending Artsakh and Azeri forces have been mired in a bloody stalemate for almost two weeks. It is estimated that around 400 Armenian soldiers have lost their lives in the fighting so far. Azerbaijan has yet to disclose its casualties.

As Armenians all around the world follow the conflict closely, concern grows over Nagorno-Karabakh’s civilian population, who has endured almost constant bombardment for several days by Azeri and Turkish forces. Centuries-old cultural heritage sites have also been targeted by Azeri air attacks.

“We’re here today to show that we won’t let the world just watch on as we suffer once again.” —Tamar M.

“Us Armenians have been dealt some crappy hands over our long history, including being victims of genocide,” said Concordia student Tamar M. “We’re here today to show that we won’t let the world just watch on as we suffer once again.”

As of Friday night, a ceasefire agreement has been reached between both sides. Hostilities would supposedly be halted today to allow for the exchange of prisoners and the recovery of dead bodies.

Protesters set off smoke flares in the colours of the Armenian flag. Courtesy Talia Margossian

Azeri attacks occurred leading up to the agreed ceasefire, and clashes continued as Armenian forces retaliated well past the 12:00 p.m. MKT (Moscow time) start of the ceasefire.

The crowd, consisting mostly of students, grew as day turned into night, chanting, cheering and dancing to keep warm and get the attention of passing cars and pedestrians. Activities ended with a moment of silence for fallen Armenian soldiers, followed by a rendition of the national anthem before the crowd slowly dispersed into the fall night.

“It’s important that we see such large turnout from the youth because it shows their ties to their homeland are so strong, despite them growing up in Canada,” said École Arménienne Sourp Hagop principal Lory Abrakian. “It’s one of the reasons why I’m very proud to call myself an Armenian.”

The third straight day of protests will take the shape of a motorcade through downtown Montreal, ending at the Armenian Genocide Monument in Laval.