May 8, 2016 12:15 pm

Rally held for BC mom fighting for return of 4 abducted children

WATCH: A Vancouver Island woman is spending this Mother's Day at the last place she celebrated with her four kids. Alison Azer and her supporters rallied outside the Vancouver Art Gallery this afternoon, calling on the federal government to help return her young children who were abducted by her estranged husband nine months ago. Nadia Stewart has the story.

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For Alison Azer, this weekend marks a heartbreaking milestone: it’s her first Mother’s Day without her four children.

“This is now nine months of a nightmare,” Azer said, describing an ordeal no parent would ever want to endure.

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Azer’s children — 11-year-old Sharvahn, 9-year-old Rojevahn, 7-year-old Dersim and 3-year-old Meitan — were abducted by her ex-husband, Saren, last summer. On Saturday, friends and family organized their 16th vigil since the children were unlawfully taken out of the country.

The rally was held at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The last time she was there, it was Mother’s Day 2015 and she was with her children.

On the steps of the gallery, the tearful mother pleaded with anyone who would listen.

“I am on my knees in front of you, begging you to talk to your friends and talk to your family and talk to members of parliament that can bring these kids home,” she said.

Those at Saturday’s rally are asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to intervene and call Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

“They have to work together to bring these precious children home,” said Anne Jeffrey, the children’s maternal grandmother.

“We’re really hoping that the Canadian government will get up and do something about it. They have to talk to the Iranian government and explain the situation and bring the kids back,” adds Naz Gurbuz, a friend of the family.

Azer believes her children are with their father in Iran, though he first fled with them to northern Iraq, a war zone.

Pictures surfaced online that show Saren attending an event in Iran, hiding in plain sight.

“He’s an Interpol red notice fugitive. He’s a criminal,” Azer said.

Global News contacted the Prime Minister’s Office for comment, but received a response from Foreign Affairs instead.

A spokesperson says the government is “deeply concerned” about the children’s well-being.

READ MORE: PM Trudeau pledges to do everything possible to return 4 abducted Canadian children

“Canadian consular officials are working closely with the appropriate government authorities in Canada and abroad, including law enforcement,” writes the Foreign Affairs Minister’s press secretary.

“Our Parliamentary Secretary for Consular Affairs is in frequent communication with Mrs. Azer as ‎we continue to work with appropriate government authorities, domestically and abroad‎, in the pursuit of the children’s safe return.”

Citing privacy concerns, the department said it couldn’t offer any more details.

Alison said the vigils will continue until her children are back home, adding that she’s appealing to Trudeau, not as a Canadian citizen, but as a parent.

“He can bring these kids home and I want him to.”

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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