Bi-Partisan Resolution Led By Rep. Pallone Calls For Immediate End to Azerbaijan’s Blockade on Lachin Corridor, Requests U.S. Humanitarian Assistance, and Condemns Aliyev’s Attempts at Ethnic Cleansing
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), along with Armenian Caucus leaders Reps. David Valadao (R-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Brad Sherman (D-CA), are spearheading a resolution condemning Azerbaijan‘s blockade of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and ongoing human rights violations, calling on President Biden to immediately suspend U.S. military and security assistance to Azerbaijan and to fully enforce Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, and provide U.S. humanitarian and development assistance to the Armenian victims in Nagorno-Karabakh, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).
The bipartisan resolution, which began circulating last week for original co-sponsors, states that “Azerbaijani forces [are] in violation of international obligations to resolve disputes with Armenia and Artsakh peacefully,” following their large-scale, unprovoked invasion of Artsakh in 2020.
The resolution states that “President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan has used vitriolic rhetoric to call for the ethnic cleansing of indigenous Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and his regime has consistently violated important international humanitarian legal agreements during the 2020 war and up until the present date, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Charter, and the Geneva Convention.”
Evidence of Azerbaijan’s violations of international humanitarian law during the 2020 war – including rocket strikes on civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and schools, the decapitation of civilians, the use of white phosphorus munitions, and the torture and killings of Armenian prisoners of war – are well-documented by reputable non-governmental organizations such as Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The resolution emphasizes that the November 2020 ceasefire statement that ended the 2020 war signed by Azerbaijan “clearly states in Article 6 that, ‘The Lachin Corridor (5 km wide), which will provide a connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia while not passing through the territory of Shusha, shall remain under the control of the Russian Federation peacemaking forces…The Republic of Azerbaijan shall guarantee the security of persons, vehicles and cargo moving along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.'”
Despite the Article, on December 12, 2022, “Azerbaijan created a man-made humanitarian crisis by implementing an extended blockade of the Lachin Corridor under the guise of a civilian protest” which has resulted in “dangerous, escalatory steps.”
The closure of the Lachin Corridor – which serves as a vital lifeline connecting the Republic of Artsakh to the Republic of Armenia – and its blockade prevents food, critical medical supplies, and other essentials from reaching 120,000 people, and has “severely worsened the quality of life for the people living in Artsakh, including 30,000 children, 20,000 elderly individuals, and 9,000 people with disabilities, including the sabotage of civilian infrastructures such as a critical natural gas pipeline, power transmission lines, and fixed-line internet.”
The U.S. Department of State has time and again warned that the “closure of the Lachin Corridor has severe humanitarian implications and sets back the peace process,” and publicly called “on the government of Azerbaijan to restore free movement through the corridor.”
In addition to condemning the blockade of the Lachin Corridor, calling for the immediate suspension of U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan, and providing humanitarian aid, the resolution also encourages the U.S. and international community to petition the International Court of Justice, European Court of Human Rights, or other appropriate international tribunals, “to take appropriate steps to investigate any and all war crimes committed by the Azerbaijani forces,” while also calling on the U.S. to deploy international observers to the Lachin Corridor and Artsakh “to explore opportunities for more effective and sustainable guarantees of security and peaceful development,” as well as “support U.S. sanctions under existing statutory authority against Azerbaijani officials responsible for the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh and other well-documented human rights violations committed against Armenians in the region.”
“The Assembly applauds the tireless efforts of the Armenian Caucus leadership to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its continuous human rights violations against the Armenian people of Artsakh, particularly as Azerbaijan’s blockade, which has spurred yet another humanitarian crisis, is in its seventh week,” said Assembly Congressional Relations Director Mariam Khaloyan. “We urge the U.S. and the international community to stop Azerbaijan’s attempts at ethnically cleansing the Armenian people and destabilizing the South Caucasus region for its own gain.”
ANCA Joins Congressional Leaders, Coalition Partners at Capitol Hill Press Conference Condemning Azerbaijan’s Blockade of Artsakh
#SaveKarabakhCoalition Launched to Stop Azerbaijan from Committing Second Armenian Genocide
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) was joined by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), House Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee Ranking member Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Lou Correa (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), and Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) in calling on the Biden Administration to stop U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan and send emergency aid to Artsakh in response to the devastating humanitarian crisis in Artsakh caused by Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin Corridor, reported the ANCA (a leading partner in the broad-based Save Karabakh Coalition).
The Capitol Hill press conference, held in the Press Triangle at the foot of the U.S. Capitol Building, featured the participation of former U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, Artsakh Representative to the U.S. Robert Avetisyan, and representatives of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and a diverse group of non-government organizations led by the Anglican Office of International and Government Affairs, Christian Solidarity International, the Baroness Caroline Cox of Queensbury and founder of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), the Vulnerable Peoples Project, and supported by the Genocide Watch, Hellenic American Leadership Council, and In Defense of Christians, who announced the launch of the Save Karabakh Coalition. The press conference was moderated by Reverend Canon Justin Murff, Executive Director of the Anglican Office for Government and International Affairs.
“This is a diverse coalition with a laser focus – saving Artsakh,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with our coalition and in solidarity with our Congressional friends advancing anti-blockade legislation, set to be introduced in the U.S. House. Now, more than ever, Armenian and allied Americans need to stand up, and speak out – and that starts with taking action today at www.anca.org/blockade.”
Congressional Leaders Condemn Azerbaijan; Demand Concrete U.S. Action
“As a Greek American, our history, Greece and the Armenian community go back very, very far. And obviously we both suffered greatly at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. Human rights, genocide, we’ve experienced a lot together and so that is why I’m here today to continue to stand with the Armenian community and see that centuries later, they’re still suffering human rights violations.” – Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY)
“He is announcing his intention of this blockade, which is to make Artsakh unlivable and to use a blockade as a method of ethnic cleansing. The tactic is blockade. The effect is civilian deprivation. The purpose is ethnic cleansing. The United States must act. […] I urge the Administration to impose real consequences on Aliyev for plunging the people of Artsakh into this humanitarian disaster.” – Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)
“Our job is to make sure that we bring justice to the Armenian people. Your job is to make sure that we don’t forget to make sure that we’re reminded that the struggle continues. As we move forward, I know we will reach a place. I know we will continue to accord to reach a place where the Armenian people can enjoy freedom, human rights and religious freedom.” – Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA)
Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA): “The launch of the Save Karabakh Coalition here at the U.S. Capitol is an inspiring show of support for the 120,000 Armenians living in Artsakh peacefully but suffering at the hands of the Aliyev regime. I will continue to work with my colleagues here in Congress to make sure that the United States stands up for the ideals of democracy and self-determination and to that end stands with the people of Artsakh.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA): “Artsakh is enduring a major and growing humanitarian crisis caused by Azerbaijan’s illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor, Artsakh’s only humanitarian lifeline to Armenia. And so yes, like all of you, I strongly condemn Azerbaijan’s blockage of the vital corridor connecting Armenia and Artsakh and call for the immediate opening.”
Rep. David Valadao (R-CA): “Azerbaijan is once again weaponizing critical infrastructure and manufacturing a humanitarian crisis for Armenians living in Nagorno Karabakh. The U.S. must use every single diplomatic tool we have at our disposal to end this blockade and ensure the safety and wellbeing of Armenians living in Artsakh.”
House of Representatives Passes Five Pro-Democracy Amendments as Part of the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act
WASHINGTON, DC – On the evening of Thursday, September 23, 2021, five decisive pro-democracy amendments were adopted en bloc by the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the overall National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022, known as bill H.R. 4350.
In the aftermath of last Fall’s 44-day war launched by Azerbaijan with the full support of Turkey against the Armenian people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), the Armenian American community strongly advocated for and hailed passage of the following amendments:
- Amendment #21 sponsored by Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), and cosponsored by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Andy Levin (D-MI), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Katie Porter (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), and Dina Titus (D-NV): This amendment “creates a report on Azerbaijan’s activities in Nagorno Karabakh in 2020 to be submitted to the relevant congressional committees by the Secretary of Defense in consultation with the Secretary of State. Also expresses the Sense of Congress that the government of Azerbaijan should immediately return all Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians. Urges the Administration to engage with Azerbaijani authorities, including through the OSCE Minsk Group, to make clear the importance of adhering to their obligations under the November 9 statement and international law to immediately release all prisoners of war and captured civilians.”
- Amendment #278 sponsored by House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA), and cosponsored by Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Norma Torres (D-CA), and Don Beyer (D-VA): This amendment “modifies the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (Subtitle F of title XXI of PL 114-328) to authorize sanctions for serious human rights abuse, any violation of internationally recognized human rights, or corruption; adds two new reports to Congress; and repeals the sunset.”
- Amendment #325 sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and cosponsored by Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA): This amendment “requires a report from the Secretary of Defense, in collaboration with the Secretary of State, addressing allegations that some units of foreign countries that have participated in security cooperation programs under section 333 of title 10, U.S.C. may have also committed gross violations of internationally recognized human rights before or while receiving U.S. security assistance. This report also includes recommendations to improve human rights training and additional measures that can be adopted to prevent these types of violations.”
- Amendment #431 sponsored by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), and cosponsored by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), and Anna Eshoo (D-CA): This amendment “requires a report by the Secretary of State on the activities of the Grey Wolves organization (AKA Bozkurtlar & Ülkü Ocaklari) undertaken against U.S. interests, allies, and international partners, including a review of the criteria met for designation as a foreign terrorist organization.”
- Amendment #449 sponsored by Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), and cosponsored by Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Susan Wild (D-PA), Andy Levin (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Katie Porter (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), David Schweikert (R-AZ), David Trone (D-MD), and Don Beyer (D-VA): This amendment “requires a report within 180 days of all US humanitarian and developmental assistance programs in Nagorno Karabakh, including an analysis of the effectiveness of such programs and any plans for future assistance.”
Speaking in support of his amendment (#325), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) stated on the House floor that countries that violate human rights, such as Azerbaijan, which received over $100 million dollars in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019, along with “equipment and training from the U.S. military,” and launched “a deadly attack against Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh on September 27 that led to the death of thousands and the displacement of so many more,” should not receive U.S. funding.
“Passage of this amendment sends a clear signal that the U.S. takes seriously its democratic norms and commitment to peace by ensuring oversight of our security assistance,” said Rep. Pallone, noting that in the future there will be “restraint from aiding and tolerating similar regimes, especially when their actions are aimed at destabilizing a fellow democracy.” This amendment is especially important since Azerbaijan continues to threaten Armenia’s safety and sovereignty. “The United States should not be aiding and abetting reckless, autocratic states with appalling human rights records for any reason,” Rep. Pallone said.
Upon passage, FLArmenians.com Editor Taniel Koushakjian stated, “We commend the House of Representatives for adopting these significant, pro-democracy measures, especially all of the amendment sponsors for taking a strong stand against the war crimes committed by Azerbaijan’s armed forces against peaceful Armenians who are simply defending their right to live in peace. We urge Congress to ensure these measures and kept in the final adoption of the FY2022 NDAA.”