VICTORIA – Vigils were held across Canada Monday urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to bring home four young Canadian siblings from northern Iraq, where they are believed to be with their fugitive father, a noted British Columbia doctor.
Alison Azer’s four children, Sharvahn, Rojevahn, Dersim and Meitam, have been missing for seven months.
Their aunt, Tammy Jeffrey, attended a rally in Calgary and said their father, Saren Azer, took the two boys and two girls to Germany last summer but failed to return in late August as scheduled.
“The nightmare still hasn’t ended for us,” Jeffrey said.
“Try to think of how you would feel if your child (or) children went missing, and not really knowing for sure where they are, if they’re safe, if they’re healthy. It’s a terrifying prospect for any parent.”
Jeffrey said Canadian children should be home with their Canadian families and that the family and supporters would never stop their search.
“We will never give up hope,” she said. “We will continue to do this until the end of time. We want these kids back.”
Lorraine McKendry was one of about a dozen people who held candles and signs during a vigil outside the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Monday.
Her placard read: “Justin Trudeau, these are your children, bring them home now.”
McKendry says Alison Azer’s four children, who range in age from three to eleven years, have been located in an area of northern Iraq that has become the focus of bombing and increasing violence.
McKendry’s two daughters were also on hand for the event in Victoria.
Michelle McKendry described the situation as “insane” and encouraged the prime minister to use Canada’s clout in the region.
Her sister, Virginia McKendry, suggested the Canadian government should use it’s leverage from providing support and training to Kurdish troops to demand the children’s safe return.
“We can say, ‘You want money? You want weapons? You want training? Well then we want something in return,'” she said.
Besides Victoria and Calgary, vigils were also held in Ottawa and Courtenay, B.C., on Vancouver Island where the children live.
A Canada-wide warrant was issued last August for the father for abduction and contravention of a custody order.
Saren Azer is also know as Salahaddin Mahmudi-Azer and is a well-known Canadian doctor of Iranian descent. He has spoken publicly about volunteering medical care for refugees in Iraq and humanitarian aid to Syria.
Alison Azer has said that she believes her children were taken to northern Iraq, where ongoing conflicts with Islamic State fighters have forced people out of their homes.
(The Canadian Press, CHQR)