Some 10 days ago, nearly 5,000 Quebecers gathered at Place du Canada, most wearing masks, calling for peace in Armenia, the country of their ancestors. While The Suburban, and its editor were present in solidarity and providing coverage, other media were sorely absent.
On Monday, our very own Montreal Gazette printed a picture of a deserted park and wrote about increased police presence in public. On Tuesday, we read about the effects of the pandemic on Holocaust survivors. Both are legitimate stories in the public interest.
On the other hand, a modern day Genocide is now underway, with the use of Canadian technology and weaponry. This cannot be ignored any longer.
NATO ally Turkey, is not only cheerleading but also leading the war efforts of a despotic leader among its cousins to the east, Azerbaijan. Aided by Turkish jets in the air and imported Syrian mercenaries on the ground, these nations are committing, what is otherwise known as, ethnic cleansing on a daily basis.
The landlocked autonomous region of Artsakh, or Nagorno-Kharabagh as others call it, is in a literal existential battle for survival.
Azerbaijan first attacked in 1992 but Artsakh’s indigenous Armenians who represented the vast majority successfully stood their ground and a cease-fire was declared in 1994. In the 26 years since the cease-fire, there have been minor skirmishes. Exceptionally, on April 1, 2016 a Four-Day War, or April War, occurred when Azerbaijani Armed Forces attacked the cease-fire border.
And now, in the middle of a world wide pandemic, unknown in modern times, on Sunday September 27, 2020, one week before the Montreal demonstrations, Azerbaijan amassed weapons and soldiers along the line of contact. They launched an all out assault on Artsakh and deeper into Armenia. This is confirmed daily by much of the world press. Ready both for the battles on the front lines and the ensuing information war, Turkish journalists were reporting live from the entire points of contact and the Azerbaijani state capital of Baku.
Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev has been in power for 17 years. Each time his hold on power recedes, the war rhetoric increases. To avoid the instability in his country, as we witness in Belorussia, the Azerbaijani state has used information to dehumanize Armenians in order to rationalize senseless killing.
Although ready for battle, this is an unprecedented attack assisted by a major NATO country, led by what is indisputably a modern day dictator, Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey. The stakes could not be greater. In the words often attributed to Edmund Burke, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for the good to do nothing. The Gazette‘s silence or the hollow words not supported by action will do little to end the killings, restore peace or allow constructive negotiations to resume.
It is time for the press but also for our government to engage in the peace efforts and to do so far more forcefully.
Harry H. Dikranian is a Board member and past president of the Armenian Bar Association, partner Lapointe Rosenstein Marchand Melançon.