Over 350 Armenian-Canadians from across Quebec and Ontario converged upon Ottawa on FridaySeptember 7th to demonstrate against the pardoning of convicted axe murderer Ramil Safarov byAzerbaijani President Ilham Aliev last week.
Safarov’s pardon came after he was repatriated to Azerbaijan from Hungary after assurances from theAzerbaijani regime that the convicted murderer would serve the remainder of his sentence in his homecountry. Immediately following his arrival in Baku, Safarov received a hero’s welcome, was pardonedby president Aliev, promoted to the rank of major, given eight years of back pay, and given anapartment.
In 2004, while both were participating in a NATO-sponsored course in Hungary, Azerbaijani lieutenantRamil Safarov axed to death Armenian lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan, while the latter slept. Safarovsubsequently admitted to the murder, and was convicted by a Hungarian court and sentenced to life inprison for his heinous act.
The demonstration took place in front of both the Hungarian and Azerbaijani embassies. Armenian-Canadians gathered in front of the Hungarian Embassy and asked to present the Ambassador with aletter setting out their concerns and requesting that Hungary make amends by pressuring Azerbaijan toabide by its promise and imprison Safarov.The crowd then proceeded to walk to the Azerbaijani Embassy where they protested againstAzerbaijan’s deceit in releasing Safarov despite promises made to the contrary, and the Aliev regime’sglorification of ethnic hatred of Armenians.
In a shameful act, the Azerbaijani Embassy sent out a press release during the demonstration that conveniently ignored the fact that Azerbaijan had broken a promise to Hungary, that Azerbaijan had treated Safarov as a national hero (a blatant example of anti-Armenian hate propaganda) and blamed all problems on the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh without explaining how measures such as this could possibly lead to a peaceful resolution of the problem.
“The Azerbaijani Embassy’s evasive and deliberately misleading press release demonstrates whyNagorno-Karabakh can never be part of Azerbaijan” stated ANCC President Dr. Girair Basmadjian.“The Azerbaijani regime misleads Canadians in order to justify its glorification of hate crimes andviolations of international law” added Dr Basmadjian. “If Azerbaijan is prepared to lie to Hungary, the Canadian public, and the world at large, to further its anti-Armenian goals, why would anyonethink Azerbaijan could be trusted to guarantee the safety of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian population?”
Russia, the Council of Europe, NATO, the United Nations, the UN High Commissioner for HumanRights and the United States have all condemned Safarov’s pardon. In a statement on Friday, NATOSecretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen criticized Azerbaijan’s decision to pardon Safarov, statingthat the act "damages trust and does not contribute to the peace process."
Azerbaijan continues to mislead the Canadian public, and the world at large. Yet, through suchcondemnations, the international community is demonstrating to rogue regimes that there is a price tobe paid for state-sponsored ethnic hatred and violations of international law.
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots human rights organization. Working incoordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around theworld, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues.