(Los Angeles, California)–With the Armenian Diaspora still reeling in the aftermath of Azerbaijan’s full-scale invasion of Artsakh on September 19, 2023 that forced the mass exodus of its entire population, Aliyev’s cruelty found new depths when he ordered the arrest of Artsakh’s leaders, including Fmr. State Minister Ruben Vardanyan, Fmr. Foreign Affairs Minister David Babayan, Fmr. Presidents Arayik Harutyunyan, Bako Sahakyan, and Arkadi Ghukasyan, Parliament Speaker Davit Ishkhanyan, Fmr. Defense Minister Levon Mnatsakanyan, and Fmr. Deputy Commander Davit Manukyan who are all being illegally held by Azeri authorities awaiting sham trials under Azerbaijan’s corrupt judicial system.
These politicians will join the ranks of countless Armenian civilian hostages and POWs who have remained in illegal detention throughout Aliyev’s genocidal campaign against Artsakh, starting with its unprovoked invasion in 2020, and continuously during its illegal 9-month blockade that intentionally deprived Artsakh Armenians of access to food, medicine, other life-sustaining goods. The illegal arrest, sham trial, and 15-year prison sentence of Vagif Khatchatryan, a 68 year-old man who was intercepted and illegally detained by Azeri authorities while he was receiving an internationally protected medical transfer under the care of the International Committee of the Red Cross, sets the concerning precedent that all Armenians under Azeri detention will share a similar fate.
Responding to these unprecedented crises, the ANCA Western Region has worked tirelessly with U.S. policymakers to hold Aliyev accountable for his countless violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Addressing these concerns, Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-30) has introduced H. Res. 861, co-sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ-6), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), and Rep. David Valadao (CA-22).
This urgent resolution echoes the resounding voice of the Armenian-American community by calling for Azerbaijan’s immediate return of Armenian hostages, POWs, and U.S. sanctions on Azerbaijan for its numerous war crimes and violations of international law, urging the Biden Administration to stop all current and future military or security assistance programs to Azerbaijan, enforce Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, urging the Secretary of State to ensure that Azerbaijan abides by its obligations under the November 9 Declaration which specifically include the release of Armenian hostages and POWs, and urging the Secretary of State to provide substantive updates to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the progress and outcomes of US engagement with Azerbaijani authorities on all points listed above.
“Azerbaijan is already guilty of grave atrocities committed during the recent war, and the continued illegal detention of Armenians compounds the problem. Azerbaijan’s treatment of these prisoners, including torture and killings, are heartbreaking and a direct threat to international law and order,” said Rep. Schiff. “My resolution urges the American government and international community to stand up to these gross human rights violations being perpetuated against the Armenian community by the Aliyev regime and return these prisoners back to their families.”
“In the face of Azerbaijan’s ongoing disregard for human rights and international laws, the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region stands firmly behind Representative Adam Schiff’s resolution. We call upon the international community to unite in support of justice and the immediate release of all prisoners of war and captured civilians. It is time for Azerbaijan to honor its commitments and end the suffering inflicted upon innocent individuals,” said the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region Chair, Nora Hovsepian.
Community members and advocates are urged to call upon their Congressional Representatives to immediately sign-on to by using the ANCA Western Region campaign link: www.ancawr.org/
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.