A few hundred Armenian Montrealers gathered in front of Montreal City Hall on Thursday to demand the support of Mayor Valérie Plante.
Protesters say they want Plante to condemn Azerbaijan’s aggressions to Armenians and to call for peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh territory, a disputed region internationally considered part of Azerbaijan but ruled by Armenian ethnic forces.
Demonstrators were also there to “call on the City of Montreal to officially recognize the independence of the Republic of Artzakh,” said Apraham Niziblian of the Armenian National Committee of Quebec.
Artzakh, also known as the Nagorno-Karabakh territory, has been at the centre of political and armed conflict for decades.
In a 1991 referendum, Nagorno-Karabakh voted to become Independant.
The results sparked a separatist war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, both former Soviet republics, killing more than 30,000 and displacing an estimated 1 million.
It ended with a ceasefire in 1994 but there hasn’t been a permanent resolution to the conflict.
Over the past weeks, Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of launching attacks on civilians and places like hospitals and schools.
People at the protest say the area has never belonged to Azerbaijan.
They say it’s time for the international community to recognize the region as the independent Republic of Artsakh because it’s the only way to ensure lasting peace.
“They asked for independence 30 years ago now, we’re asking for the international community to now recognize it,” Niziblian said.
“It’s the only way to give them their voice so that they can go to international fora and defend themselves as an independent country.”
A spokesperson for city hall said in a text that it stands in solidarity with the Armenian community through these difficult times.
“On behalf of Montrealers, we call on a speedy and pacific resolution to the conflict,” the statement read.
— With files from Global’s Emmanuella Campanella, The Associated Press and Reuters