Montreal’s Armenian community takes protests for peace to Ottawa
Canadian-Armenians demand more action from their government in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Montreal’s Armenian community joined Canadian-Armenians in Ottawa for a protest against Azerbaijan’s continued attacks on Nagorno-Karabakh.
Thousands gathered on Parliament Hill on Friday, demanding that Canada condemn Azerbaijan and Turkey, who is backing Azeri aggression.
“We still haven’t heard clear condemnation of Turkey and Azerbaijan from our government,” said Concordia graduate student Goryoun Koyounian. “We also want to see a permanent ban on Canadian weapon sales to Turkey. As long as our government keeps doing so, some of the blood shed will be on Canada’s hands.”
After almost a month of fighting along Nagorno-Karabakh’s border, little progress has been made towards negotiations to restore peace in the region. Over 850 Armenian soldiers have died in battle so far, while casualties have yet to be disclosed by Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan continues bombing civilian populations in Artsakh’s capital Stepanakert, as well as other towns and villages throughout the territory.
“The three million Armenians living in Armenia and Artsakh currently face an existential threat,” said Papken Charian, speaker and Archbishop prelate of Canada. “We demand presidents Erdogan and Aliyev face a criminal court so they are held accountable for the war crimes and crimes against humanity that they are responsible for.”
Most of the protesters traveling in from Montreal arrived in Ottawa at around 10 a.m. The crowd occupied the lawn in front of Parliament for several hours, where flags, signs and branded masks were handed out, before the group began marching through Ottawa’s quiet downtown core.
The march ended in front of the United Nations Association of Canada building on Metcalfe St., where there were speeches delivered, songs performed and chants rendered before the crowd dispersed around 4 p.m.
The Canadian government has taken strides in encouraging a peaceful resolution to the conflict, suspending military exports to Turkey and pledging $350,000 in humanitarian aid for Nagorno-Karabakh.
Canadian-Armenians are unsatisfied with their government’s involvement so far.
“I expect Canada to help establish grounds for concrete negotiations for peace,” said Concordia student Rafi Stepanian. “It’s not so much about the land; it’s about our people there who are facing another genocide.”