Hunger Strike in Toronto to Protest Turkey’s Genocide Denial

The Tornoto hunger strikers

TORONTO—A group of eight Canadian-Armenians have begun a 72 hour hunger strike in downtown Toronto as of Friday, June 10 at 6 p.m., organized by the Armenian Youth Federation of Canada. In light of the upcoming general elections in Turkey, the demonstrators are protesting the ongoing human rights abuses carried out by the Government of Turkey, including: the denial of the Armenian Genocide; the stifling of freedom of speech, and press; oppression of Kurdish and Christian minorities who are treated as second class citizens and whose political parties are banned, leaders imprisoned and Patriarchate’s shut down.

One of the participants, AYF member Mark Piliguian explains that the reason the group decided to hold a hunger strike was to show the Canadian public, and the world at large, the type of suffering the Armenian people endured during the first genocide of the twentieth century. “We are here, depriving ourselves of food for seventy-two hours, to share a very small amount of the suffering of our ancestors went through. Although ninety-six years have passed, the world cannot forget the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish government must acknowledge and come to terms with its history so that the crime of genocide does not repeat itself”.

The hunger strike will culminate with an official demonstration, which will be held Monday, June 13, 2011 at 2:00pm in front of the Turkish Consulate in Toronto at (Queens Quay and Lower Spadina – 10 Lower Spadina Avenue).

The demonstrators will send a strong message to the newly elected officials in Turkey that Canadians and the international community at large will not stand as silent bystanders as the Turkish government deprives its citizens of their basic human rights and denies the Armenian Genocide.

Ninety six years have passed since the Armenian Genocide, the first of genocide of the 20th century. The genocide has been recognized by countless scholars including the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and numerous countries including Canada, yet it is constantly denied by the successive governments of Turkey.

Nevertheless a movement to recognize the Armenian Genocide has started in the Turkish Republic. Led by outspoken scholars and authors such as Orhan Pamuk, Hall Berktak and Ragip Zarakolu, .This April, for the second year in a row, major cities in Turkey witnessed public events commemorating the Armenian Genocide. 

Canadian-Armenians gathered in front of the Turkish Consulate will mourn the 1.5 million Armenians exterminated during the Genocide, celebrate their rebirth, and renew their commitment to stand for truth and justice. The solidarity and support of Canadians to commemorate the 96th anniversary of the events of 1915 is not only for the victims of the Armenian Genocide but to all victim nations of genocides, war crimes and human rights abuses around the world.

At the same time protestors will urge the Canadian Government to take action with regard to Turkey’s dismal human rights record, as part of Canada’s foreign policy agenda. As a model democracy, a leader in peace-building, partnership, reconciliation and fair and honest dialogue, Canada must recognize the role it can play in helping Turkey become a legitimate democracy. Our government must urge the Turkish government to cease its oppression of minorities by extending support to Christian Patriarchates and repealing Article 301 of its Penal Code.

In the words of philosopher George E. Moore, “After all, there is but one race, humanity.”

Follow the hunger strike participants on their blog.

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10 Comments

  1. juliet said:

    Abrik!!!!Asdvadz mishd hedernit e!!!!!Menk tzezmov shad hbard enk!!!!!gettzek!!!!

  2. Seervart said:

    Hail to our guys in Toronto! You make me so proud of you! ABRIK DEGHAK!!!!!!!

  3. Vahan Vanagan said:

    Hunger Strike makes us weaker. We have to show our fedayin readiness to recover our rights on western Armenia occupied by the Turkish Invaders Nomads, and the east of Artsakh occupied by Azeri Nomads. Hunger Strike is not for the Armenian fighters. Our revenge is not fulfilled yet to these Nomad Tribes. Our parents and grand parents, victims of the genocide are waiting for this revenge.

    The following is still valid:
    Doushmane mez dvets Jan Faday anoun, yev nera hamatsayn desav zoroutyoun.

    • Norin Radd said:

      While it’s important to always remember the Armenian Genocide and to seek the justice and accountability it deserves, I think it’s high time that we stop passing down the perpetual propagation of “the victims” mentality to the next generation.

      Seriously, what purpose does a hunger strike serve? This constant feeble minded “you’re a weak lamb victim” routine being handed down to the new generation is plain wrong and counterproductive. I for one am tired of assuming a victim’s posture, it leads to depressive mental tendencies in the new generation. I’d rather see the new generation be told to seek more aggressive and powerful stances, it’s a dog eats dog world and groups like the ARF need to raise wolves within the new generation, not more lambs.

      Armenians need to arm themselves physically as well as intellectually. Guns and bombs are what our nation needs, not more pens and political groups that want to teach the new generation to beg for recognition for another 100 years!

      Aye varoong/xiarner vochxarner, artnaztek zter yerazitz!

      • N said:

        Listen here Norin …
        First of all it’s individuals like yourself who let the Armenian community down! Criticism is accepted by us… but why the hell would you insult and cuss at your OWN people?
        Clearly you have no sense of respect for yourself, your people, or your cause.
        I agree that power is what we need. But guess what? Power doesn’t come without the brains.
        And for your information, the hunger strikers were more energetic than ever. Our ancestors were starved for months, weeks, and days. What we did was NOTHING compared to what they went through. In fact, every single one of us was feeling so powerful by the end and we proved it at our official protest, which you were obviously not present at. When it comes to a bunch of liars, who are being paid by their government to look like idiots, there is NO LIMIT to the anger and strength in our voices.
        As for your “philosophy” about the new generation and the “victim’s mentality”, you have got it all wrong. I don’t know what kind of Armenian community you were raised in, but here in Toronto (and pretty much everywhere else in the world) Armenians do not put themselves down and get depressed over the issue. We come out, make our voices heard, and demand justice! That is what we do.
        And as for the hunger strike… we got A LOT of public attention. We handed out over 1000 flyers during the weekend. We had conversations with a lot of intelligent people. We EVEN talked to a 19 year old Turkish boy, who at first denied the genocide happened, but when we passed on the truth believed in us more than his own denying government.
        Finally, it’s easy to sit there and call us khiars or lambs, but you know damn well that we did well. Some things could have been better, in terms of number of people present at the protest, but we did well. If you’re such a smart person maybe you should be organizing events yourself.
        So, next time, before you decide to call a bunch of determined Armenian youth “lambs”, pack up your stuff and head out to deal with the enemy face to face like we did. Come out and show the world that you’ve got a brain. Come out and educate the public. I’m sure you wouldn’t do any of that … because, clearly, you just talk big.

  4. Artin said:

    երանի բոլոր հայերն էլ այնպէս կտրական լինէին
    պէտք է սովորենք
    ամեն ինչ լաւ կլինի

  5. Armenian Girl said:

    We are very proud of you. Keep up the good work! Justice for Armenians

  6. NotProudAtAll said:

    Well, well, well. Bunch of people, who has no idea that what happened!!! and just standing there and protesting something. Because they have nothing else to do…

    Above all these comment… They cannot act but easily use other people and encourage them.

    You all have to look at the history and learn that it was not a genocide but it is just a political event. And now all the western countries wanna gain power and wanna have the control of the middle east, they use these poor Armenian people.

    Actually it is a very sad scene….

    Listen Vahan Vanagan!! How he/she is screaming for blood to blood…

    Think about it ‘When all these developing nations are fighting to each other, who gets an advantage of it?’….

    • N said:

      Go pick up the first book ever in your life and start learning some facts before you talk nonsense.

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