11:10, 6 October 2023
YEREVAN, OCTOBER 6, ARMENPRESS. U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and a bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives, including Chris Smith (R-NJ), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Jim Costa (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Lou Correa (D-CA), and Haley Stevens (D-MI), as well as former Rep. Frank Wolfe condemned the ethnic cleansing of Nagorno-Karabakh’s (NK) 120,000 Armenians and demanded the Biden Administration hold Azerbaijan accountable, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Members of Congress, along with human rights organizations and faith-based groups, raised concerns of renewed Azerbaijani aggression against the Republic of Armenia during September 29th Capitol Hill press conference, held in the Press Triangle at the foot of the U.S. Capitol Building, organized in coordination with In Defense of Christians (IDC), For the Martyrs, and the 120,000 Reasons Coalition, including the ANCA. The press conference coincided with IDC’s Capitol Hill advocacy days spotlighting the Nagorno-Karabakh Genocide and persecution of Christians worldwide. The program featured remarks by the ANCA, Hellenic American Leadership Council, American Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee, American Task Force on Lebanon, international religious freedom advocate Sara Salama, among others.
Rep. Brad Sherman Warns Azerbaijan “has its eyes on conquering the Republic of Armenia”
House Foreign Affairs Committee senior member Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), hosted the Capitol Hill press conference and called for concrete U.S. action holding President Aliyev for his ethnic cleansing of Armenians in NK and warning of Azerbaijan’s plan to conquer sovereign Armenia. “Now Azerbaijan has its eyes on conquering the Republic of Armenia, whose independence we recognized in the early 1990s. Congressman Sherman notes that “the attempts by Azerbaijan to conquer Armenia, the Republic of Armenia, or any portion of it is evil, and to say that America must provide aid to these people who have been ethnically cleansed.”
Rep. Frank Pallone: “I have absolutely no doubt that the goal here is to wipe, not just Artsakh off the map, but to wipe Armenia off the map.”
Congressional Armenian Caucus founding Co-Chair Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) noted that “Aliyev and Azerbaijan’s goal was to ethnically cleanse Artsakh. In other words, basically, get rid of all the Armenians, take their land, and force them to flee, if not be killed in the process. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing unfold.”
Rep. Pallone noted, “I have absolutely no doubt that the goal here is to wipe, not just Artsakh off the map, but to wipe Armenia off the map. I mean, that’s the goal here. Anybody who thinks otherwise, in my opinion, is kidding themselves. Rep. Pallone made it clear that Azerbaijan’s goals are “not just about Artsakh. There’s a much larger plan here that involves Armenia itself and that we need to be, we need to move full force and quickly towards protecting Armenia as well.”
Rep. Chris Smith: “Aliyev should be at the Criminal Court for Crimes against Humanity which he is committing again as we meet here today.”
Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Co-Chair Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) gave powerful remarks calling out Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who is “unfettered in his hate towards the Armenians and is committing, as we meet here today, the second Armenian genocide. “Aliyev should be at the Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, which he is committing again as we meet here today”. Rep. Smith called for the “United States to take action and “there are very serious sanctions that could be imposed now, today, on Aliyev and all of his gang so that they can’t do business with America and they cannot get a visa, two of the main parts of that sanctioning regime. Do it! Don’t wait!”
Rep. Jim Costa: “We support Armenia, the people of Armenia, and its territorial boundaries”
Central Valley California’s Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), offered powerful remarks calling on the Biden Administration to “do more to assert the leadership that needs to take place to ensure that these atrocities end and that we support Armenia, the people of Armenia, and its territorial boundaries. We’re supporting the people of Ukraine and its territorial boundaries for all the right reasons. And for the same reasons, we must support the territorial boundaries for the people of Armenia”
Rep. Josh Gottheimer: “It’s our duty to recognize that as we speak, Armenians are being killed and displaced in Artsakh, at the hands of Azerbaijan.”
Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) strongly emphasized that “it’s our duty to recognize that as we speak, Armenians are being killed and displaced in Artsakh, at the hands of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s horrific military offensive comes at the end of a nine-month blockade of Artsakh, which resulted in a humanitarian crisis. I know that it’s never the wrong time to bear witness and tell the truth. The United States should never be complicit in senseless murder.”
Rep. Lou Correa: “History is being repeated today…we cannot let it happen.”
Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA), spoke on the ethnic cleansing happening in NK noting that “history is being repeated today. We cannot wait. We cannot let it happen. If there’s one thing I’m going to do today is ask you, do not let this happen. Do not let us in that building wait. Take action right now, human beings, can’t let history repeat itself.”
Rep. Haley Stevens calls for “sanctions in particular against the Azerbaijani officials”
Congresswoman Stevens (D-MI) called out Azerbaijan’s threat on Armenian sovereignty, “We see a refugee crisis and we see an attack on Armenia’s sovereignty. And it is wholly unacceptable. I have joined in support in calling for sanctions in particular against the Azerbaijani officials, that needs to happen.”
Former U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf: “Not one more penny to the Azerbaijani Government”
Former U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), who in 1998 authored the International Religious Freedom Act, spoke on the current “ethnic cleansing of Armenians by the Azerbaijan government”. He emphasized that the Biden Administration must stop supporting Aliyev and that “there is no way that this Administration ought to give one more penny beginning Monday to the Azeri government until this completely stops and there’s a reverse.
Wolf then criticized Washington DC lobby groups white-washing Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing. “It is shocking, it is shocking that there are lobby firms in this city, lobby firms in this city that represent the Azerbaijan government. How do you represent a government that’s bringing about genocide and ethnic cleansing? Don’t you remember the history of 1915? I would say to those law firms, call the Azerbaijani government and tell them to get out and stop or drop them as a client.”
ANCA’s Tereza Yerimyan: “The Biden Administration has armed and abetted, aided and emboldened, Azerbaijan’s oil-rich Aliyev regime that is today committing real-time genocide against Artsakh’s 120,000 indigenous Armenian Christians.”
ANCA Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan stressed that the Biden Administration enabled Azerbaijan’s genocide of Armenians in NK . “The record shows that the Administration did not lift a finger to break Azerbaijan’s blockade. No airlift, no cutting off of military aid to Baku, no sanctions on Aliyev. A shameful abandonment of our moral and legal duty. A dangerous signal to the authoritarians of this world. And a green light for the next genocide.”
IDC’s Richard Ghazal: “Azerbaijan has been conducting a genocide against 120,000 Armenian Christians”
In Defense of Christians Executive Director Richard Ghazal gave powerful remarks noting that “Azerbaijan, a beneficiary of U.S. foreign aid, military assistance, has been conducting a genocide against 120,000 Armenian Christians in Nagorno-Karabakh.” He continued, “After a 10-month blockade aimed to starve Armenian civilians into submission, Azerbaijan bombed them into submission. Azerbaijan is now completing its mission to cleanse the area by expelling the 120,000 civilians.” Ghazal called for the United States to “discontinue this loophole, the presidential waiver to section 907 of the Freedom Support Act” and stop military assistance to “the brutal dictatorship” in Azerbaijan.
HALC’s Endy Zemenides: “Recognizing the Armenian Genocide means nothing if you don’t stop the next genocide.”
Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) pointed out that the Biden Administration recognizing the “Armenian genocide means nothing” if they “don’t stop the next genocide.” He commented on USAID Administrator Samantha Power’s visit to Armenia, stating, “I’m sorry I can’t congratulate Samantha Power for being in the region, because she knew what she did wrong during the Obama Administration; she left the Obama Administration and apologized for not recognizing the Armenian Genocide.” Yet, today, continued Zemenides, Administrator Power “did no airlift and is now, as the ANCA has said, is ‘showing up for the funeral’ of the Christian Armenians of Artsakh.” Zemenides called for immediate sanctions on “the Aliyev family and Azerbaijan.”
For The Martyrs’ Gia Chacon: “Genocide is underway in Armenia”
Founder of For the Martyrs, Gia Chacon described the “genocide underway in Armenia,” where “120,000 Armenian Christians are facing starvation, gross human rights violations, and being forced out of their historic land in Nagorno-Karabakh or Artsakh.” She emphasized the absence and lack of action from President Biden. “Where is the United States now as a genocide is unfolding in front of our eyes and Christian persecution is skyrocketing like never before,” stated Chacon, who urged the US to “uphold the standard for international religious freedom, to intervene, to stop the genocide happening right now in Nagorno- Karabakh or Artsakh, to sanction countries that are led by dictators and terrorists and to protect Christians around the world.”