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Armenian Caucus Leadership Condemn Azerbaijan's Blockade in Bipartisan Resolution

Updated: Feb 9, 2023


Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), along with Armenian Caucus leaders David Valadao (R-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Brad Sherman (D-CA), officially introduced a bipartisan resolution (H.Res.108) - strongly backed by the Armenian Assembly of America and supported by over 60 Members of Congress - 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 providing U.S. humanitarian and development assistance to the besieged Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). "It's clear that Azerbaijan's blockage of the Lachin Corridor is coordinated and intended to shut off the only supply route for much of Artsakh's food, medical supplies and transport, and other essential goods," said Congressman Pallone. "We stand united in telling Azerbaijan to end this intentional humanitarian crisis." Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), who will introduce the Senate companion resolution, in a statement referred to Azerbaijan's blockade of the Lachin Corridor as "inhumane and unacceptable," and emphasized that "our resolution would make it clear that the United States must take action to hold Azerbaijan accountable." Citing the "coordinated efforts by the Azerbaijani government to block essential goods and services" as "unconscionable," Congressman Bilirakis reiterated the need to hold Azerbaijan accountable for this humanitarian crisis. Congressman Schiff said that the bipartisan condemnation of "Baku must be just the beginning — and signal the end of assistance to Azerbaijan. I will always stand with the people of Armenia and Artsakh and call on the President of the United States to use all diplomatic tools at our disposal to ensure the safety of the people of Artsakh amid the growing crisis in the region." Congressman Sherman called upon the U.S. to take action and stressed that the blockade is an "attempt by Azerbaijan to force Artsakh's ethnic Armenian population out of their homes by making life in Artsakh impossible. The tactic is blockade. The effect is civilian deprivation. The object is ethnic cleansing." Referring to Azerbaijan's "direct violation of international agreements," Congressman Valadao stated that he was "proud to cosponsor this critical resolution which strongly condemns the Azeri government’s appalling actions and calls on the United States to use every diplomatic tool at our disposal to end this dangerous blockade.” The resolution also highlighted 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 Azerbaijan's obligation, on December 12, 2022, the resolution highlights that "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, through the sabotage of civilian infrastructure 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 United Nations Security Council, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other appropriate international bodies "to investigate any and all war crimes committed by 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 violations of the human rights of the Armenian people of Artsakh, particularly as Azerbaijan's blockade has precipitated yet another humanitarian crisis, now in its second month," said Assembly Congressional Relations Director Mariam Khaloyan. "We urge the U.S. and the international community to stop Azerbaijan's attempts at the ethnic cleansing of the Armenian people and destabilizing the South Caucasus region." In addition to Reps. Pallone, David Valadao (R-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Brad Sherman (D-CA), the following Reps. joined as original cosponsors: Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Katie Porter (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Eleanor Norton (D-D.C.), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Susie Lee (D-NV), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Kevin Mullin (D-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Grace Meng (D-NY), Judy Chu (D-CA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Nanette Barragan (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Susan Wild (D-PA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Danny Davis (D-IL), Mike Lawler (R-NY), Greg Landsman (D-OH), Jared Golden (D-ME), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), David Trone (D-MD), Rob Menendez, Jr., (D-NJ), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Seth Magaziner (D-RI), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Norma Torres (D-CA), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Nikki Budzinski (D-IL), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), John Larson (D-CT), Thomas Kean, Jr., (R-NJ), and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY).

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.

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NR# 2023-04

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