Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne has ordered an investigation into allegations Canadian technology is being used in drones that are targeting Armenians in the ongoing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“Canada is deeply concerned by reports of large scale military action along the line of contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, and we call for the immediate end of hostilities, respect for the ceasefire agreement, and the protection of civilians,” said Michel Cimpaye, a spokesperson from Global Affairs Canada, in a statement emailed to CTVNews.ca.
His comments come in the wake of allegations from Canada’s Armenian community that a Canadian-made sensor is being used in Turkish-manufactured drones that they say have been deployed in the ongoing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.
“We are aware of the allegations made that Canadian technology is being used in this conflict. The minister of foreign affairs immediately directed our officials to investigate these claims,” Cimpaye said.
Sevag Belian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada, told CTVNews.ca that there’s “overwhelming evidence” in Turkish and Azerbaijani media that these drones are being used “to specifically find [and] target both military targets and civilian targets.”
“It makes us sick to our stomachs to find out that Canadian technology is being used to facilitate the loss of life and these abhorrent crimes that are being committed by Turkey in Azerbaijan,” Belian said.
The Canadian peace research institute Project Ploughshares recently published an extensive report on this issue. It says it gathered evidence that “strongly indicates” Burlington, Ont.’s L3Harris Wescam sensors have been mounted on Turkey’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — better known as drones — which the report claims “have been used extensively by Turkey in its recent military activities.”
CTV News has reached out to the company for comment, but has not received a response.
“It appears that Turkey has also exported UAVs equipped with WESCAM sensors to armed groups in Libya, a blatant breach of the nearly decade-old UN arms embargo,” the report claims.
Turkey is closely allied with Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia.
“We will certainly not leave brother Azerbaijan alone,” Turkish President Recep Erdogan said on July 17 in Istanbul, according to Bloomberg News. “Armenia is an invader.”
In the wake of these allegations, Belian said the Armenian-Canadian community is “united” in a call for Canada to take steps that go far beyond the investigation that Champagne’s office confirmed to CTV News on Wednesday.
“We are currently not satisfied with the way the government is responding to the situation,” Belian said.
“The situation is so dire that civilians are being targeted, innocent children, women and men are dying, because this technology is facilitating that.”
He said the government must “immediately condemn” what’s happening in the region and must “suspend all exemptions” that allow this sensor to be exported to Turkey.
“We need affirmative action and we need it now, to save lives and to ensure that the situation currently at hand does not spiral into a regional war and something that a few weeks down the road we might regret or the government might regret, saying that you know, we should have done more,” Belian said.
“If they have to act, they have to act now.”