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Civilian Casualties in Ganja Decried As Armenian War Crime

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Over 2500 Azerbaijani Canadians and their allies waved flags and protested Armenian military aggression on a march on October 18 in downtown Toronto. (Photo Jamal Yah)

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As yet another shaky ceasefire was announced, following more attacks by Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, the relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel remained as strong as ever.

In two missile attacks on Ganja last Saturday, children were among about two dozen civilian deaths with over 50 injured. The second-largest Azerbaijani city is far from the front lines, and had endured three previous attacks by Armenia since the outbreak of combat on September 27, in which a total of 11 were killed and 70 wounded.

Leyla Ekberova, mother of two, was living with her family of 15 in one of the 20 houses bombed. “Our house was severely damaged. […] the officials told us that we should not stay there and that the house could collapse at any moment.”

With casualties and injuries almost doubled and hundreds already displaced, Azeri officials utilized a dormitory left unoccupied due to the pandemic, to alleviate the suffering of Ekberova and other victims.

Ibrahim Caferov, head of the Azerbaijan Agriculture State University, told Andolu Agency, “35 families, consisting of 110 people, have been staying [in the dorm] for about four days. We are serving [the victims] three meals a day,” Caferov said. “Families can stay here for 2 more months with the current facilities available.”

After announcing a ceasefire for October 18 at 6 p.m., the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia were scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Friday.  About 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory – including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions – has been under illegal Armenian occupation since a 1994 ceasefire. Azerbaijan’s U.S. ambassador, Elin Suleymanov, was open to a rendezvous between the ministers during the process, stressing, “We want a substantive conversation.” 

Israel’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan George Deek said the Jewish State was ready to provide humanitarian aid, according to Azeri news agency Trend.

After a briefing by officials, he said “”We strongly condemn the targeting of civilians. We are deeply moved by the recent events in Ganja, Mingachevir, Barda, Tartar and other cities and regions of Azerbaijan, when civilians, including children, were injured and killed as a result of intense missile and heavy artillery attacks. In connection with the tragedy, I express my deepest condolences and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.” 

On Thursday Ambassador Deek went to the scene in Ganja and paid his respects to the deceased, laying flowers in their memory atop the rubble. A statement was released by four Jewish organizations, affirming “with full confidence that Azerbaijanis are peaceful, tolerant people … tolerant and hospitable to its citizens including various minority peoples.”

Ambassador George Deek expressed Israel’s deep regret for the victims of Armenian attacks on civilians in Ganja, laying flowers in their memory.

The statement went on to denounce the Armenian attack on Ganja “where the large Jewish community are living today… we are very disappointed and alarmed by the news that some Jewish organizations still do not have the correct information about the aggressor state Armenia which continues to violate international humanitarian law having ignored peace and stability in the region.”

A one minute video posted to Twitter by Suleymanov reinforced the bonds between the nations, featuring a Mountain Jew serving on the front lines. “Daniel, a Jewish -Azerbaijani patriot, is one of thousands of our citizens of diverse backgrounds who are defending their homeland”, the ambassador wrote, with the remarks of the soldier dubbed into Hebrew on-screen.

Daniel Zarbaliv, from the all-Jewish town of Qirimizi Qeseba (also known by the Russian name Krasnaya Sloboda), said, “I am proud to be here myself, liberating lands which were conquered more than 30 years ago. My friends and I truly believe this… Shalom Israel… “

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Israeli flags were seen flying in Toronto in solidarity with the Azeri community at a rally on October 18, on the anniversary of their independence from the former Soviet Union.

Over 2500 Azerbaijani Canadians and their allies marched on Sunday through downtown from Yonge and College, destined for Nathan Phillips Square. Banners proclaimed “Karabakh is Azerbaijan” as the marchers demanded a withdrawal by Armenia from their homelands and an end to deliberate attacks on unarmed civilians and national infrastructure.  A silent vigil was held for the victims of Armenia’s missile attacks in Ganja and local media were given a glimpse into the community and its values.

That evening, a more upbeat mood was in view as the iconic Niagara Falls was brightly illuminated in the colours of Azerbaijan.  Hundreds of celebrants marveled at the spectacle which lasted over an hour.

After the weekend, the Network of Azerbaijani Canadians continued to engage in raising awareness and initiating important political outreach. Following up on the recent meeting with Trudeau cabinet Minister Bardish Chagger, NAC reported of a briefing session with Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Omar Alghabra, who represents the Toronto riding of Mississauga- Centre.  

Despite a ceasefire, 20 houses were destroyed by Armenian missiles in Ganja, far from the front lines with Azerbaijan, sparking outrage and protests in Toronto and worldwide. (Photo Jamal Yah)

Briefed about the #AzerbaijaniCommunity in Canada, activities conducted within the framework of NAC, cross-Canadian community platform”, the organization explained on their Facebook page.

“Discussed the escalated war between #Azerbaijan#Armenia. Requested to raise voice and issue statement in the House of Commons to convince Armenia to withdraw from #NagornoKarabakh and adjacent regions, internationally recognized territory of #Azerbaijan, occupied by #Armenia.”

Meanwhile, B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn became the first national Jewish leader in Canada to speak out on the human costs of the military barrages. “We are following with concern the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” he wrote to TheJ.ca, “and hope and pray for the safety and well-being of all, including the Jewish communities in both countries, and for a peaceful resolution of this dispute.”  

TheJ.ca has left follow up messages with both CIJA and the World Jewish Congress, but at press time had still not received any reply to our questions about what steps Jewish organizations and community members can take to assist with humanitarian needs of the Jews in Azerbaijan.

In a letter to TheJ.ca, NAC Director Ismaili Alakbarov said our stories “have shed a light on the essence of the conflict, which is the quest of the Azerbaijani people to restore the territorial integrity of their country. You’ve also covered a unique angle in your stories about the Jewish people in Azerbaijan, which I believe is definitely helping to build bridges with the Canadian Jewish organizations and a stronger bond with Israelis living in Canada.”

To read our other stories in this series, the links are:

Humanitarian Crisis Looming After Armenian Military Targets Azerbaijanis In South Caucasus Region

Canadian Government Urged To Help With Humanitarian Needs In Azerbaijan

Ceasefire Evaporates Within Hours As Azerbaijan Civilians Shelled

Marty Gold is the Editor-in -Chief of TheJ.ca. Known for investigative reporting, he has specialized in covering municipal and provincial politics, and a wide range of sports and entertainment, in newspapers, magazines, online, and on his first love, radio. His business and consulting experience includes live events and sales, workplace safety, documentary productions, PR, and telecommunications in Vancouver, Los Angeles and across Canada, and as a contestant on CBC-TV Dragons Den.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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