Armenian Assembly Outlines Key Priorities Before the House Appropriations Committee
Washington, D.C. - Today, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) outlined key priorities before the House Appropriations Committee in testimony by Congressional Relations Director, Mariam Khaloyan. The Assembly reinforced the bipartisan call for $100 million in aid to Armenia, as well as robust assistance to Artsakh. "The Assembly strongly supports the bipartisan letter by 66 of your House colleagues" and urges "$100 million in Fiscal Year 2022 for Armenia's development and recovery after Azerbaijan's ruthless war, which continues today with ongoing border incursions in violation of Armenia's sovereignty," stated Khaloyan, emphasizing the brutality of the 44-day war against the Armenian people launched by Azerbaijan in the midst of a pandemic, with the full and open support of Turkey and Turkish-recruited mercenaries, on September 27, 2020. Regarding aid to Artsakh, the Assembly specifically requested $50 million and commended the work of the Armenian community and international organizations in helping the Armenian people. The Assembly also expressed its appreciation to journalists, who traveled to Artsakh in the middle of the pandemic to cover the war. The testimony also highlighted the importance of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act and, given the war, the use of jihadist mercenaries by Azerbaijan, the destruction of vital infrastructure including hospitals and schools, and the deliberate erasure of Armenian cultural and religious heritage sites, the Assembly stressed that providing U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan sends exactly the wrong message. "The America that we know and cherish would not support the recruitment and deployment of jihadist mercenaries, condone ISIS-style beheadings and bodily mutilations, stand for the targeting of cultural and religious sites, or think that the opening of a 'Military Trophy Park' in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, replete with Armenian mannequins featured in a dehumanizing manner and an entrance made with helmets of killed and captured Armenian soldiers, is acceptable. It is not," stated Khaloyan. "We urge you not to allow U.S. taxpayer dollars to be used to support Azerbaijan and that starts with upholding the letter and spirit of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act [and] further recommend that Congress ensure that no military assistance be provided to Azerbaijan," Khaloyan added. The Assembly also indicated its strong support for H.Res. 240 calling for the immediate release of all prisoners of war (POWs) and civilian captives being unlawfully held by Azerbaijan. As to the peace process, the Assembly was clear: "The United States should not allow the corrupt and authoritarian regimes of Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey to sideline U.S. leadership and leave the world's first Christian nation and fledgling democracy in peril," said Khaloyan. Noting the decades-long blockade of Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan, the Assembly urged "report language requiring a full accounting of the steps that the Administration is taking and will take to end the only blockade in the world of a democratic country." The Assembly also urged Congress to address the significant imbalance in U.S. security assistance provided to Azerbaijan (over $100 million in security assistance was provided to Azerbaijan in fiscal years 2018 and 2019) compared to Armenia, and prevent any further misuse of U.S. funds. Khaloyan concluded by expressing her sincere gratitude to Congress for its assistance to Armenia and Artsakh throughout the decades, namely the support that the U.S. provided after the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, as Armenia moved towards independence in 1991, during Artsakh's struggle for freedom and democracy, and through "America’s proud record of humanitarian intervention during the 1915 Armenian Genocide." "Affirmation of the Armenian Genocide enhances America's credibility and recommits the United States to the worldwide cause of genocide prevention,” Khaloyan stated and urged "Congress to ensure that no U.S. funds will be used to deny the Armenian Genocide."
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.