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441-00294 (Foreign affairs)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:

Whereas, Following Azerbaijan's 44-day war against the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorono-Karabakh), a trilateral ceasefire agreement was signed between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia - outside of the purview of the OSCE Minsk Group - ceasing all hostilities on the territory of the Republic of Artsakh.

Whereas, while failing to address many challenges facing the region, the agreement specifically included a term relating to the return of prisoners of war and the exchange of the remains of fatalities.

Whereas, despite such provisions, as many as 200 Armenian Prisoners of War (POW) illegally remain in Azerbaijani custody, without any transparent mechanisms in place to ensure their safe return.

Whereas, since December 2020, Human Rights Watch has published two reports on the status of Armenian POW’s, confirming that they are being subjected to inhuman treatment, torture, humiliation, and other forms of abuse.

Whereas, on February 1st, 2021, The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement, calling for the immediate release of POW’s.

Whereas, on May 4, 2021, disturbing reports confirmed that close to 20 POW’s were mutilated and killed by Azerbaijani forces. This is a violation of international law by Azerbaijan, specifically as it relates to the provisions laid out in the Third Geneva Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), all of which are signed by Azerbaijan.

We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:

1. Condemn Azerbaijan's illegal detention of Armenian POW’s and call for their immediate release;

2. Use all the diplomatic tools available to advocate for the release of those held captive;

3. Condemn the ongoing state-sponsored anti-Armenian hatred in Azerbaijan;

4. Denounce all aggressive rhetoric from Turkey and Azerbaijan against Armenia and Artsakh;

5. Provide the necessary humanitarian assistance to ensure the safety and viability of the population of Artsakh and facilitate the exchange of the remains of fatalities.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

Canada is deeply concerned by ongoing tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and calls on all parties to continue engaging in dialogue and efforts toward a sustainable peace. Canada supports all UN Security Council Resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh and the efforts of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Canada supports a negotiated political solution to the conflict, as well as the continuation of dialogue between the parties towards promoting confidence-building measures. Armenia and Azerbaijan, and all external parties, must continue working together to build mutual confidence at this very sensitive time.

Canada continues to monitor the situation related to the Armenian Prisoners of War (POWs) and other detainees, and is aware of the difficulties in securing their release. Canada has welcomed the release of detainees by Azerbaijan since May 2021, as well as the sharing of landmine maps by Armenia. Through both bilateral and multilateral channels, Canada continues to call for accelerating the immediate release of all detainees as a key step in the confidence-building process. The release of POWs and detainees remains one of Canada’s priorities, and Canada will continue to raise its concerns whenever the opportunity arises.

Canada remains deeply concerned about the allegations of human rights violations facing Armenian POWs and detainees, and calls on the respective governments to fully abide by the simultaneous orders issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for provisional measures against both Armenia and Azerbaijan, including to take all necessary measures to prevent the incitement and promotion of racial hatred, including by officials and public institutions, and to protect persons captured by Azerbaijan during the conflict from bodily harm. Canada continues to call on respective governments to investigate human rights allegations diligently in compliance with international human rights law.

The Government of Canada is working to address the post-conflict recovery and reconstruction of Nagorno-Karabakh in numerous ways. The Minister of Foreign Affairs is engaged with key partners. Canada maintains regular dialogue with the Government of Armenia and the Government of Azerbaijan, with the support of their embassies in Ottawa and Canada’s embassies to Armenia and Azerbaijan. Canada has provided an additional $1 million in humanitarian funding to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2021, in addition to the $450,000 provided in 2020 to support the ICRC’s budget extension for the region and address urgent needs that have arisen as a result of the conflict in a needs-based manner.

Canada will continue to remain engaged and supportive of sustainable peace and security and will continue to assist with humanitarian efforts.

Presented to the House of Commons
Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan)
March 28, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00294)
Government response tabled
May 11, 2022
Photo - Garnett Genuis
Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
Conservative Caucus

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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