The Armenian Youth Federation of Canada (AYF Canada) organized a demonstration at the United Nations ICAO offices in Montreal, on Thursday, April 3, 2014, at 12:00pm. Hundreds of Armenian-Canadians from across Quebec held a demonstration urging the United Nations, NATO and the international community at large to condemn Turkey’s role in the destruction of the northwestern Syrian town of Kessab, whose predominantly civilian Armenian population was forced to evacuate to avoid slaughter earlier this weekend.
Located in the northwestern corner of Syria, near the border with Turkey, Kessab had, until very recently, avoided major battles in the Syrian conflict. The historically Armenian populated town had also served as a safe-haven for Armenians fleeing from the war-torn cities of Yacubiye, Rakka and Aleppo. On the morning of March 21st, extremist foreign fighters launched a vicious attack on Kessab civilians, forcing them to flee to neighbouring Latakia and Bassit. Subsequent attacks occurred on March 22nd and 23rd and included the mass looting of local residences and the desecration of Armenian Churches in the area. Around 700 Christian families have been displaced, while others are being held hostage in their own homes by rebels who have invaded and established residence.
Sources confirm that the onslaught on Kessab was launched from Turkey by foreign fighters affiliated with an extremist wing of the al-Qaeda terrorist group. Attackers wounded during fighting were returned to Turkey for medical treatment. Turkey also shot down a Syrian military plane which had flown to the border village to subdue the insurgence.
The protesters called the international community to urge Turkey to take all steps necessary to secure its border and prevent any incursions into Syrian territory. They demanded Turkey to explicitly disavow its support of all al Qaeda affiliated groups in the region and to ensure that these groups are expelled from its territory immediately.
AYF Canada representative, Gorune Koyounian delivered a strong message to the international community and the Government of Turkey:
“Turkey, a member of NATO, has and continues to aid and abet extremist terrorist organizations. The official Al-Qaeda organization of Syria has freely entered the country through the Turkish border. Wounded attackers use Turkey as a revolving door to seek medical attention. This is a clear indication of Turkey’s involvement with an organization, which is recognized as a terrorist group by the US State Department. Are these the type of actions Canada, the US, or other NATO nations would like to be associated with? This is unacceptable to us Canadians, and should be to the world powers as well!”
Armen Karo Student Association member, Mirna Foudoulian urged people of all races, creeds, and nationalities, whether they’re a minority or a majority, to help demilitarize Kessab, allowing us to help our brothers and sisters, Armenian or otherwise, to move safely back to their homes and regain the stability that they have lost. Mirna on behalf of the protestors exclaimed, “Turkey, you have no business in the future of the Syrian people, you have no business playing host to terrorist organisations like Al-Qaeda, and you definitely have no business in ruining the lives of the people of Kessab! Get your hands off of Syria and off of Kessab! Keep your borders sealed to terrorists and you may be able to lessen the shame you’ve rightfully received.”
The Armenian Youth Federation of Canada is appalled at the violence committed against innocent citizens living in Kessab and in others cities and towns in Syria and demands Turkey to stop facilitating the attacks by extremist foreign fighters.