A Year After the Artsakh War Began, Armenian-Canadians Remain Deeply Wounded

(OTTAWA – September 27, 2021) – A year after the horrific 44-day war against the Republic of Artsakh began, Azerbaijani authorities continue to brazenly violate the terms of the ceasefire agreement and openly threaten further bloodshed and violence.

On September 27, 2020, Canadians woke up to scenes of unimaginable suffering and destruction as Turkish-backed Azerbaijani forces began a large-scale offensive against the Republic of Artsakh, indiscriminately targeting both military and civilian assets.

“While an egregious and disproportionately imbalanced ceasefire announcement brought an end to the fighting on November 9, 2020, lasting peace, and a fair resolution to the conflict in Artsakh remain far out of sight,” said Hrag Tarakdjian, Co-President of the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC).

The Russian mediated ceasefire – which was negotiated outside of the OSCE Minsk Group framework – called on both sides to exchange all prisoners of war and the bodies of fatalities. Despite these terms, close to 200 Armenian POW’s remain under illegal Azerbaijani custody to this day.

“Despite clear provisions in the ceasefire agreement aimed towards addressing the many post-war challenges, Azerbaijan is openly violating all the terms – and in defiance of calls from mediating nations – it is aggressively trying to secure further concessions from the Armenian side,” added Tarakdjian.

Furthermore, since May 2021, under the cover of border demarcation efforts – Azerbaijan has infiltrated the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, terrorizing the local population, blocking essential communication and transport channels while laying territorial claims on Armenia’s capital, Yerevan.

On September 27, 2020 Canadians also learned that the Turkish manufactured Bayraktar TB2 drones – equipped with Canadian made WESCAM MX-15 target acquisition avionics – were being used against the people of Artsakh, which ended up playing a significant role in tipping the balance in favour of Azerbaijan.

Despite a government sanctioned investigation, and a simultaneous parliamentary committee inquiry, Canadians are still not fully aware as to how and why the Canadian government chose to provide exemptions that violated Ottawa’s own arms sales moratorium to Turkey.

“As a result of Canada’s diplomatic absence in Armenia and serious lack of intelligence in the region, oversight mechanisms were entirely non-existent, signalling a serious lack of judgment and a clear case of negligence on Canada’s part,” said Shahen Mirakian, Co-President of the ANCC.

In April 2021, the Canadian Government decided to cancel all the permits previously granted to WESCAM, however, no formal apology nor any serious commitment to reform Canada’s flawed arms export regime has been delivered.

“If we want to stay true to our values and to our international reputation as peacemakers, the Canadian Government ought to take serious steps at reforming our arms export regulations and take a principled stance on defending the fundamental rights of oppressed peoples, instead of becoming complicit in their oppression,” concluded Mirakian.


The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Armenian-Canadian grassroots human rights organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Armenian-Canadian community on a broad range of issues and works to eliminate abuses of human rights throughout Canada and the world.


Contact: Sevag Belian – (613) 235-2622 | [email protected]