Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Unanimously Pass Motion Calling for the Release of Azerbaijan’s Armenian Hostages

January 10, 2024


Los Angeles, California – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion introduced by ANCA Western Region-endorsed candidate for re-election, Supervisor Kathryn Barger, and seconded by Supervisor Holly Mitchell on Tuesday, January 9, 2024, which would send a letter signed by the full Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to the Biden Administration urging for concrete action to address Azerbaijan’s ongoing illegal detention of Armenian hostages. The motion also calls on the Biden Administration to impose sanctions against Azerbaijani leadership pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act on the grounds of Azerbaijan’s illegal detention, torture, and extrajudicial killing of Armenian POWs and hostages, as well as suspending all United States military and economic assistance to Azerbaijan. Additionally, the motion urges Committee leadership of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to move forward on the passage of H. Res. 861 (introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff and co-authored by Reps. Valadao, Pallone, and Bilirakis), which calls on Azerbaijan to immediately release all prisoners of war and captured civilians. ANCA Western Region staff and other Armenian community organizations attended the hearing to speak in support of the motion, urging for its passage.


This motion was introduced in light of growing concerns about inhumane treatment and conditions for the Armenian hostages held in Azeri detention. Azerbaijan’s Armenian hostages include the Artsakh government’s political and military leadership, such as ANCA Western Region Freedom Award recipients Artsakh Foreign Minister Davit Babayan, and Fmr. Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan, as well as Fmr. Artsakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan, who headlined an ANCA-WR Town Hall from behind the blockade last February. Also among Azerbaijan’s Armenian hostages include illegally detained civilians, such as Vagif Khatchatryan, a 68-year old man who was arrested at an unlawfully implemented Azeri checkpoint in the midst of its more than 9 months of blockade of Artsakh. Khatchatryan was arrested while receiving an internationally protected medical transfer to Armenia under the care of the International Committee of the Red Cross; a clear violation of international humanitarian law. 


“This is about accountability,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “We need to hold Azerbaijan accountable for violations of humanitarian law. As leaders of a country that is home to the greatest number of Armenians outside of Armenia itself, we must do what is within our power and use our voice to condemn Azerbaijan’s violations of human rights and urge the return of all Armenian hostages and prisoners of war. We have a moral obligation to do so. I am proud to stand in solidarity with the Armenian community.”


“The conflict between Azerbaijan and the people of Armenia impacts our Armenian community in Los Angeles County,” said Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. “ We must make it clear that these crimes against humanity will not be tolerated by our government. We support the Biden administration in urging the Azerbaijan government to immediately return all Armenian prisoners of war and work toward a solution for lasting peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.”  


After enduring more than nine months isolated from the outside world and deprived of life-sustaining commodities such as food, fuel, and medicine, Artsakh’s 120,000+ population was victimized yet again when Azerbaijan launched a full-scale assault on September 19, 2023 which devastated civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, homes, and schools, and resulted in the total ethnic cleansing of Artsakh, with victims leaving behind their homes, histories, and livelihoods seeking refuge in the Republic of Armenia. Since the cessation of Azerbaijan’s full-scale assault, Azeri leadership has paraded its Armenian hostages on its national television channels, handing down fabricated criminal charges against them which will be carried out in an infamously corrupt judicial system. Having ethnically cleansed Artsakh, Aliyev’s increasingly unhinged threats have now shifted to the theft of sovereign Armenian soil through threat of military force.


“The ANCA Western Region welcomes this motion, which brings further attention to the suffering and hardships endured by the people of Artsakh, and Azerbaijan’s Armenian hostages,” said Nora Hovsepian, Esq., Chair of the ANCA Western Region Board of Directors. “Now, more than ever, it is vital that policymakers and community advocates work tirelessly to secure their release, and ensure accountability for Azerbaijan’s numerous violations of humanitarian and international law.”


Take action today by visiting www.ancawr.org/freearmenianhostages/ to urge your Representatives in Congress to take urgent and tangible action to end Azerbaijan’s illegal detention of Armenian hostages, and demand accountability for Azerbaijan’s crimes against humanity.


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.

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Edward Barsoumian
Email / Tel: (818) 664-6968
Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region
104 N. Belmont St. Suite 200, Glendale CA 91206
admin@ancawr.org | ancawr.org/facebook | @anca_wr