Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in downtown Montreal on Sunday to denounce the international silence in the face of the “genocide” perpetrated in the separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was recaptured by force a few days ago.
They demanded that the Trudeau government adopt sanctions against Azerbaijan for the recent attack it carried out with the aim of bringing the Armenian-majority territory under its authority.
Ottawa is also being called upon to provide humanitarian aid to Armenia to help welcome the hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled Nagorno-Karabakh in just days, raising fears it has now emptied of almost its entire Armenian population.
“The Government of Canada has all the capacity to act in this area, with sanctions, but has not done so,” decried one of the speakers and member of the Union of Armenian Communities of Quebec, Shant Karabajak. “He compromised the suffering of the Armenians [du Haut-Karabakh] for oil or gas. »
“Justice for Artsakh,” chanted the crowd, made up mainly of people of Armenian origin, in reference to the name of this self-proclaimed republic whose government has announced its dissolution by the end of the year.
Young and old present on site were asked to write directly to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Mélanie Joly, to alert her to the situation.
Several politicians in support
Several politicians then spoke alongside the organizers, a sign of the importance of the Armenian community in Quebec which counts around 80,000 members in the province.
The Liberal MP for the Laval constituency of Chodemey, Sona Lakhoyan Olivier, notably denounced a “double standard” on the part of Ottawa. “Ukrainians need help, we help them. The Armenians need help, we turn our backs on them,” she decried before beginning a vibrant speech in Armenian, her two parents being from Armenia.
Bloc Québécois MP Denis Trudel expressed solidarity with the fate experienced by the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, who proclaimed their independence in 1991, even though the enclave is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. “The people of Quebec, when we see another people fighting for their freedom, we are there,” he told the crowd.
New Democrat MP Alexandre Boulerice, for his part, described the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev, as a “criminal” and demanded that Ottawa quickly impose sanctions on the country. “This is the only way to be heard,” he decreed.
Azerbaijan’s attack to forcibly retake Nagorno-Karabakh on September 20 took place after a blockade of the region that had lasted for months and complicated the delivery of food and medicine.
To the point where the former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo affirmed last August that a “genocide against the 120,000 Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, is underway”.