CANADA POLITICS: Armenian-Canadians to Trudeau: Cancel Armoured Vehicles Export to Azerbaijan

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By Politicoscope August 16, 2017 08:34

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Chahé Tanachian, the Montreal-based president of the Canadian-Armenian Political Affairs Committee, the lobbying arm of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), one of the oldest and largest Armenian diaspora organizations, sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to express the community’s concerns:

“Canadians of Armenian descent and human rights activists throughout the country are dismayed by Global Affairs Canada’s recent approval of the export of Canadian-made armoured personnel carriers (produced by INKAS Armored Vehicle Manufacturing) to Azerbaijan. The decision to furnish arms to a country which regularly threatens peace in the region is one that violates all the principles that we as Canadians stand for, and which Global Affairs Canada seeks to promote in the world.”

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CANADA POLITICS: Armenian-Canadians to Trudeau: Cancel Armoured Vehicles Export to Azerbaijan

Canada’s Armenian community has launched a campaign to convince the Trudeau government to cancel export permits for the sale of Canadian-made armoured personnel carriers to Azerbaijan. The campaign started after Radio Canada International and CBC reported in July that Toronto-based manufacturer INKAS Armored Vehicle Manufacturing signed a deal with Azerbaijan’s Interior Ministry to supply the country with the vehicles.

A few vehicles have already been delivered to the oil-rich former Soviet republic, according to Roman Shimonov, vice-president of marketing and business development at INKAS.

The privately owned INKAS has also set up a joint venture with an Azerbaijani firm to produce the armoured vehicles in Azerbaijan, which has been embroiled in a simmering armed conflict with neighbouring Armenia since the breakup of the Soviet Union

Chahé Tanachian, the Montreal-based president of the Canadian-Armenian Political Affairs Committee, the lobbying arm of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), one of the oldest and largest Armenian diaspora organizations, sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to express the community’s concerns.

“Canadians of Armenian descent and human rights activists throughout the country are dismayed by Global Affairs Canada’s recent approval of the export of Canadian-made armoured personnel carriers (produced by INKAS Armored Vehicle Manufacturing) to Azerbaijan,” Tanachian wrote.

“The decision to furnish arms to a country which regularly threatens peace in the region is one that violates all the principles that we as Canadians stand for, and which Global Affairs Canada seeks to promote in the world.”

The controversy comes as the Liberal government continues to face an outcry over the sale of $15 billion worth of light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia.

Sevag Belian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC), said the news of the exports of armoured personnel carriers to Azerbaijan created “great outrage” in the community.

“We reached out to the concerned governmental departments and agencies, namely Global Affairs Canada,” Belian said in an interview with Radio Canada International.

The ANCC has also reached out to more than 50 members of Parliament, asking them to relay the message that the entire Armenian-Canadian community “is absolutely appalled,” Belian said.

The ANCC has launched a mass email campaign, targeting the Liberal government with over 1,200 emails and letters, and requesting a meeting with top government officials to discuss the issue, Belian said.

Adam Austen, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s spokesperson, said parliamentary secretary Matt DeCourcey will be meeting with the representatives of the Armenian community at the earliest possible convenience.

“Armenia is a close friend and ally of Canada,” Austen said. “We have strong people-to-people ties and an economic relationship that benefits both countries. We are proud to work closely with the Armenian community in Canada as well as the Armenian government.”

Azerbaijan rejects ‘hysteria’
Azerbaijan’s envoy in Canada dismissed the campaign as “hysteria.”

“The illegal presence of Armenian armed forces in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan remains a main cause for the escalation of the situation and continues to pose a threat to regional peace and stability,” Azerbaijan’s chargé d’affaires in Ottawa, Ramil Huseynli, said in a written statement. “In contrast, the acquisition of armoured personnel carriers from a Canadian company does not pose such a threat, as these vehicles are intended only for law enforcement and civilian transport.”

Co-operation between the Canadian company and its Azerbaijani counterpart creates jobs for Canadians, the envoy said.

“In this light, the hysteria of the Armenian community, who should put Canadian interests above the rest, is unintelligible,” said Huseynli.

Groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized Azerbaijan’s human rights record and accused it of a “thorough crackdown on dissenting voices,” as well as persistent reports of torture and other ill-treatment perpetrated by its law enforcement agencies.

In November 2015, Azerbaijani police used Israeli-made armoured personnel carriers similar to those produced by INKAS in a controversial security operation that resulted in the death of six people and dozens of arrests in the town of Nardaran, about 30 kilometres northeast of the capital Baku.

In a statement sent to Radio Canada International earlier, Global Affairs officials said Canada is “concerned with the recurring crackdown on fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan, particularly with respect to journalists and human rights defenders in the country.”

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Politicoscope
By Politicoscope August 16, 2017 08:34

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There are more readers worldwide reading the Politicoscope daily news content than ever before. Unlike many other news media organisations that charge their readers subscription fees for the same daily news content and features we offer you for free, we do not charge all our readers to pay any fee. We depend on online advertising to generate the revenues to fund all these great news content and exclusive features provided to you for free. Currently, advertising revenues are quickly falling which is affecting our ability to offer you free online news content.
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