Assembly Outlines Priorities in Letter to House Appropriations Committee
Washington, D.C. - Today, in a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, the Armenian Assembly reiterated its strong support for a robust U.S. aid package to Artsakh and Armenia with $50 million in humanitarian assistance to Artsakh, $100 million to Armenia, and the suspension of U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan. The unprovoked war launched by Azerbaijan in the fall of 2020 with the full and open support of Turkey, resulted in some 100,000 people being displaced - mainly children, women, and the elderly as well as the destruction of hospitals, schools, churches and critical infrastructure targeted by missiles, cluster and white phosphorus munitions, and drone strikes. The Assembly made clear that it is “deeply concerned about the threat of another genocide as well as the ongoing humanitarian crisis resulting from this unprovoked war,” stating that “the U.S. can and must do more to help safeguard the people of Artsakh." Assembly Congressional Relations Director Mariam Khaloyan highlighted the “persistent pattern and attempt to eliminate the Armenians of Artsakh,” and recalled that “earlier last month in the middle of a harsh winter, Azerbaijan deliberately cut off the gas supply to Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh, leaving people without a source of heat.” The Assembly letter also urged Congress and the U.S. Co-Chair to the OSCE Minsk Group to “uphold the fundamental principles of democracy, the right to self-determination, and the universal human rights of the people of Artsakh,” noting that “the United States cannot send mixed signals on democracy and human rights, by appearing to support autocrats Ilham Aliyev and Recep Tayyip Erdogan.” Regarding assistance to Armenia, the Assembly letter highlighted that the U.S. has an “important opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to a democracy threatened by neighboring autocratic leaders.” The Assembly also urged the suspension of U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan. When Congress adopted Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act in 1992, it stated that U.S. funds “may not be provided to the Government of Azerbaijan until the President determines and so reports to the Congress, that the Government of Azerbaijan is taking demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.” In the wake of 9/11, a national security waiver was added to Section 907, which allowed for such military aid to be earmarked to Azerbaijan as long as it “will not undermine or hamper ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan or be used for offensive purposes against Armenia.” A 2022 Government Accountability Office Report found that the State Department did not “provide Congress with all required information – such as the impact of aid on the military balance between Azerbaijan and Armenia.” Azerbaijan, however, unleashed a six-week war on the Armenian people of Artsakh that resulted in a death toll of over 4,000 soldiers and civilians, some brutally beheaded according to Human Rights Watch and as documented by Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights and its “Project on Atrocities in Artsakh.” “Given all these, we urge that no U.S. taxpayer dollars be used to support Azerbaijan, and that starts with upholding the letter and spirit of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act," the Assembly urged.
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.