The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) welcomes the passage of AJR-1 (Asm. Holden) by the California State Assembly. On Thursday, March 30, 2023, the California State Assembly voted 59-0 in favor of AJR-1, introduced by Assemblymember Chris Holden. The resolution condemns Azerbaijan’s ongoing blockade of Artsakh and calls upon the United States Federal Government to use any and all tools to compel Azerbaijan to end the blockade. The resolution also calls on the federal government to end military assistance to Azerbaijan, provide humanitarian aid to the people of Artsakh, establish an international peacekeeping mission to ensure Artsakh’s safety and security, and support Artsakh’s self-determination.
Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh has continued for more than one hundred days. Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijani government affiliates have blocked the Lachin Corridor, the only road connecting Artsakh to the outside world. One hundred twenty thousand people have been deprived of access to essential goods, medicine, and food. With schools closed as a direct result of the scarcity of energy and resources caused by the blockade, more than 30,000 children have been left deprived of their right to an education. The continued terror imposed upon the people of Artsakh by Azerbaijan also extends to intermittent cuts of electricity, gas, water, and communications infrastructure. Due to these factors, critically ill patients who have been unable to get the required care from their local hospitals have been transported by the International Committee of the Red Cross monitors to Armenia to receive life-saving care. More recently, three Artsakh policemen were ambushed and murdered by Azerbaijani forces, and Azerbaijani troops have advanced further into the territory of the Republic of Artsakh. The blockade of Artsakh continues to highlight the genocidal ambitions of Azerbaijan’s government in an attempt to force the Armenians of Artsakh from their rightful homeland.
Since the outset of the blockade, the ANCA-WR has mobilized Armenian-American Community activists across the Western United States through initiatives, including legislative efforts, community campaigns, and town hall meetings. The saveartsakh.org initiative was one of the first efforts to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis, which served as a community letter-writing campaign that called on the Biden Administration to immediately take concrete steps to bring an end to the blockade. Separately, the ANCA-WR activated its coalition partners across several communities, who signed onto a similar joint letter, and spearheaded a letter to President Biden, cosigned by members of the California State Legislature, calling for the United States to exert pressure on Azerbaijan to end the blockade.
The ANCA-WR worked closely with Assemblymember Holden on AJR-1, providing research material, issuing a formal letter of support, and conducting extensive outreach to members of the California State Assembly calling for support in ending the blockade of Artsakh. “The ANCA Western Region has worked diligently with Assemblymember Holden to garner broad-based support for AJR1 to ensure that during this time of existential threat facing the Armenian Nation, California reaffirms its long-standing unequivocal support for the self-determination and safety of the people of Artsakh. We are grateful to Assemblymember Holden for taking the lead on this issue, and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure full passage of this important resolution,” said Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region chair Nora Hovsepian.
AJR-1 will now enter the California State Senate chamber, where it will be heard and voted on. The ANCA-WR remains committed to seeing its passage through the California State Legislature to ensure the security and right to self-determination of the Armenians of Artsakh.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.