ANCC Letter to The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P. Minister of Foreign Affairs -
Dr. Girair Basmadjian, President of the Armenian National Committee of Canada, has sent a letter to Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, urging use all means of persuasion available to ensure that the Republic of Turkey prevents any rebel groups which are using its territory or receiving its support from targeting Armenian populated areas. The letter reads:
June 9, 2014
The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Drive
I am writing to you on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) and other Canadian-Armenian organizations concerned with the plight of the Syrian-Armenian community.
I would like to bring your attention an urgent matter concerning the Syrian-Armenian community of Aleppo. It is not an exaggeration to say that the situation in Aleppo is catastrophic. The community has declared that the Nor Kiugh Armenian neighbourhood of Aleppo is a disaster area. Nearly every house, business building and community structure, including schools and medical clinics, has been damaged by the constant bombardment of the area by extremists who are targeting civilian targets. The constant bombardment has interrupted all business activity and caused massive economic losses. There have been numerous casualties including at least three deaths.
The most disturbing fact about this situation is that this bloodshed and destruction is preventable. The Al Qaeda affiliated forces launching missiles at Nor Kiugh have been armed and trained with the assistance of governments allied with Canada. More specifically, Turkey has provided support for these groups and serves as a staging ground for their operations in Syria. In this fashion, the attacks on Nor Kiugh are simply a continuation of the efforts to entirely depopulate Syria of Armenians, other Christians and, indeed, all religious and cultural minorities. Nor Kiugh is the latest in a line of attacks against Armenians which includes the destruction of Armenian churches and monuments in Syria, removal of Armenians from Homs and other rebel-held cities and most recently, the assault on the historical Armenian region of Kessab which was condemned by Canada.
We would like to request a meeting to discuss this matter with you in person at your earliest convenience. In advance of this meeting, recognizing the urgency of the situation, we have set out our suggestions for ways in which Canada may act to prevent a catastrophe and help to uphold the international laws of warfare.
We would ask that Canada use all means of persuasion available to ensure that the Republic of Turkey prevents any rebel groups which are using its territory or receiving its support from targeting Armenian populated areas. The character of the attacks on Nor Kiugh (including targeted bombardment and planting of IEDs in community buildings that are of no strategic value) demonstrate that the destruction of the neighbourhood is not merely a consequence of the larger conflict, but a specific act aimed at destroying the Armenian community. Turkey has the means to end this violence and Canada must call upon Turkey to do so.
Thank you for all that you have done for the Syrian people and the Canadian Armenian community and we hope that you can once again come to the assistance of a people whose lives and livelihoods are under serious threat.
Dr. Girair Basmadjian,
President, Armenian National Committee of Canada