TORONTO, Canada–As the Armenia-Turkey protocols were being signed on October 10, over 300 Armenians in Toronto gathered at a protest rally at Nathan Phillips Square in front of the Winston Churchill statue to voice their opposition to the agreement.
The rally was organized jointly by the Armen Karo Student Association, ARFYOC Simon Zavarian Chapter and the Armenian Student Association chapters from the Universities of York, Ryerson, Scarborough, Waterloo, and McMaster.
The organizers chose the Winston Churchill statue for the location of the rally as the signing of the protocols was to take place in Zurich University’s Churchill room, where Winston Churchill gave a speech in 1946.
The protesters began the rally with the singing of Armenia’s national anthem after which Rupen Janbazian, the emcee, gave his opening remarks and began the chanting which could be heard from blocks away. The protesters waved flags and held banners and signs.
Vartan Kargotzian, president of the Armenian Students’ Association at Ryerson spoke on behalf of all the organizing Armenian Students’ Associations. Harout Kassabian, president of ARFYOC’s Simon Zavarian Chapter, spoke on behalf of ARFYOC. Daron Keskinian, member of the Armen Karo Student Association’s national executive, delivered the Armen Karo Student Association’s message.
Through the speeches, poems, songs and chanting, the protesters made clear that the Toronto Armenians are against the protocols. With the protocols on the verge of being signed, those present made every effort to inform the public that the protocols unilaterally benefit Turkey and are just another step in Turkey’s systematic denial of the Armenian Genocide. The protesters joined together with the vast majority of the Armenian nation living in and out of Armenia, to voice their protest to the Armenian Government and President Serzh Sarkisian, with hopes that the president will retract from his decision to sign the protocols in Zurich, Switzerland.
Once the news was heard that the protocols were signed, the protesters became furious. Knowing that the protocols still needed to be ratified by the parliaments of both nations, they continued protesting. Only hours after signing the protocols, Turkey’s leaders declared, just as they always have, that these protocols will not be verified and the border will not be opened, until the Armenians surrender Nagorno-Karabakh.
The protest ended with a strong message that despite the signing of the protocols, the Armenian struggle will continue. It was made clear that this was just another obstacle in the course of justice. Armenians worldwide will fight until the 1.5 million souls of 1915 are put to rest with Turkey’s recognition of the Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire. They will not stop until the rightful Armenian Borders as drawn by American President Woodrow Wilson are reinstated and the right to self determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh is respected by the Turkish Government.