February 13, 2020 - 12:02 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Congressional Armenian Caucus leaders joined with human rights advocates and Armenian American community leaders in a solemn remembrance of the 30th anniversary of the anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku, featuring bipartisan calls for continued U.S. humanitarian aid to Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“I stand with you and the people of Artsakh and their rejection of the repeated attempts by the Azerbaijani government to bring them back under oppressive rule,” said Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). “They fought for their freedom, their right for self-determination, and the opportunity to be greater than second-class citizens. I’m glad to be here today as we recognize the 30th Anniversary of the Baku pogroms, and stand in solidarity with the people of the Republic of Artsakh.”
“The U.S. stands on the side of democracy and peace – and that means standing with the Armenian people,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), who characterized the anti-Armenian attacks in Baku, Sumgait, and Kirovabad “a direct assault on the right to self-determination of Artsakh – and it is an assault that is continuing to this day.” Rep. Chu, who traveled to Artsakh in 2019, successfully led an amendment to the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act urging the implementation of common-sense Royce-Engel proposals, calling for the removal of snipers, deployment of additional OSCE monitors, and placement of gun-fire locators to facilitate Artsakh peace negotiations. Armenia and Artsakh support the proposals, while Azerbaijan continues to oppose them.
Congressional Armenian Caucus founding Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who is the most traveled Congressional leader to Artsakh, noted that he first met survivors of the Baku attacks in the early 1990’s during a visit to Armenia. He noted that pogroms such as these have roots in times even before the Armenian Genocide and the importance of vigilance to ensure they never happen again. Rep. Pallone then cited ongoing efforts to support Artsakh, including the appropriation of U.S. funds for de-mining efforts and maintaining military aid parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“This fight is not just for Armenian people, but for all oppressed people all over the world, regardless of who you are because if we don’t speak up here, who will,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), who called for perseverance in the fight to secure a durable and democratic resolution to the Artsakh conflict. Earlier in the day, in a Congressional statement commemorating the Baku pogroms, Rep. Krishnamoorthi called on the Azerbaijani government to “acknowledge that these atrocities occurred and that it seeks justice for the victims by prosecuting those who committed these horrific acts of violence.”
“The Armenian people continue to make sacrifices for the right to self-determination,” stated Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) who noted that, in the case of Artsakh, “we must never let up so that human rights be recognized.” Rep. Costa pledged to visit Artsakh later in the year, coinciding with the 7th annual Fresno-Armenia medical mission.
“You are doing a service to human rights in this world by calling attention to the pogroms in Baku,” said Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), who, as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, pledged ongoing support for Artsakh de-mining and other activities.