March 14, 2012 - 11:04 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Last week, Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) of Fresno issued a strong statement commemorating the recent anniversary of Azerbaijan's ethnic cleansing of its Armenian community in Sumgait in February 1988.
He joins with a bipartisan group of other Members of Congress in commemorating the massacres, including colleagues from the California Congressional delegation such as Reps. Anna Eshoo (D), Howard Berman (D), Brad Sherman (D), Judy Chu (D), and Adam Schiff (D), reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
"With Congressman Costa joining his colleagues in commemorating the Sumgait massacres, he adds yet another principled voice to the chorus of legislators who have publicly expressed support for human rights, democracy, and the peaceful resolution of regional disputes," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Along with friends of Armenia from across California's Central Valley, we voice our gratitude to Congressman Costa for challenging Azerbaijan's past aggression and standing up to its leaders’ present-day threats to restart their war against Armenia and Artsakh."
In his statement, Rep. Costa discussed the pogroms in the broader context of often violent Azerbaijani oppression against its Armenian population, especially in the Nagorno Karabakh region where the community had been peacefully petitioning for democratic freedom and an end to state-supported discrimination.
“Azerbaijani rioters murdered, raped and maimed Armenians, throwing women and children from windows and burning victims alive. While some estimate that more than 30 individuals were killed and more than 200 injured, others estimate that hundreds were murdered. The Soviets banned journalists from entering the area and, for two decades, Azerbaijani authorities relentlessly covered up, ignored and whitewashed these tragic events.
Even worse, many believe the atrocities were officially sanctioned by Azerbaijani authorities to send a clear message to the Armenians, who were peacefully demonstrating against Azerbaijani repression and discrimination in Nagorno Karabakh just days before the massacre.
The anniversary of this horrifying moment in history serves as yet another call to action to build a more peaceful and just world. The United States must stand firmly against repression and human rights abuses,” Rep. Costa said.