WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) was joined by U.S. House colleagues Judy Chu (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Linda Sanchez (D-CA) in commemorating the 26th anniversary of the Azerbaijani pogroms against Armenians in Sumgait, spotlighting the Aliyev regime’s ongoing threats and violence against Armenia and Karabakh, in powerful statements issued earlier today, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“Mr. Speaker, twenty-six years ago, the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region of Azerbaijan petitioned to become part of Armenia,” began Rep. Chu. “Their desire to determine their own future was met with brutal force and violence that was tragically reminiscent to events preceding the Armenian Genocide.”
Rep. Peters explained that “Peaceful demonstrations by Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh, who sought freedom and protested against policies that discriminated against Armenians, were met with violence against the Armenians of Sumgait, who were hundreds of miles away, defenseless, and targeted simply because they were Armenians. . . . True democracies must respect the rights of the minority and the human rights of all residents.”
Rep. Sanchez noted that “It is my hope that by speaking out publicly against atrocities suffered by our brethren around the world, we will help reaffirm America’s commitment to an enduring, peaceful and democratic resolution.”
Rep. Pallone concluded that “As co-chair and founder of the Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus, I will continue to promote peace and security throughout the Caucasus region. I look forward to the day when the Armenian people never have to fear such attacks.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) was joined by fellow Committee colleagues Brad Sherman (D-CA) and David Cicilline (D-RI) and Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA) in issuing similar statements condemning the Sumgait, Baku and Kirovabad pogroms and calling on Azerbaijan to end its aggression against Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh.
The complete statements by Armenian Caucus co-Chair Frank Pallone and Representatives Chu, Peters and Sanchez are provided below.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA): Mr. Speaker, twenty-six years ago, the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region of Azerbaijan petitioned to become part of Armenia. Their desire to determine their own future was met with brutal force and violence that was tragically reminiscent to events preceding the Armenian Genocide.
For the next two years, the Armenian population was the target of racially motivated pogroms. Hundreds were murdered, many more were wounded, and the Armenian community still grapples with the scars from the horrific attacks in Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Baku.
On February 20, 1988, Nagorno Karabakh began its national liberation movement with a resolution to secede from Azerbaijan, and on December 10, 1991, Nagorno Karabakh officially declared independence, becoming a democratic state committed to freedom and respect for human rights. But today, the people of Nagorno Karabakh are still forced to live under the constant threat of violence from Azerbaijan.
As we commemorate the somber anniversary of the beginnings of their struggle, we wish for the peaceful resolution of this conflict and the right of the Nagorno Karabakh people to determine their own future.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ): Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the Sumgait pogroms. The Sumgait pogroms consisted of the murder of hundreds of Armenians, making it a particularly atrocious event in a long history of hostility against the Armenian people. I would like to recognize the anniversary of the Sumgait pogroms and remind all of us that it is our duty to act when a people are targeted with violence. Our commitment to remembering this injustice strengthens our determination to obtain peace.
In 1988, hundreds of Armenians were brutally murdered, some of them burned alive and thrown from windows. Women and children were raped and maimed by Azerbaijani rioters. Apartments were robbed, shops demolished, and thousands of people became refugees. Despite Sumgait’s proximity to Baku, police turned a blind eye to this dire situation, allowing the pogroms to go on for three days. And since that time, authorities in Azerbaijan have sought to erase all traces of these crimes. Yet, the Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus is resolutely committed to ensure that those Armenians who lost their lives are not forgotten.
I ask my colleagues to solemnly condemn all intimidations and acts of aggression against the Armenian people. The Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus will do it’s very best to ensure that basic rights to life, liberty and security are not violated. I also ask my colleagues to join me in calling upon the Azerbaijani government to acknowledge Ramil Safarov as a convicted murderer and immediately take action to bring him to justice for the murder that he committed against an innocent Armenian man.
As co-chair and founder of the Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus, I will continue to promote peace and security throughout the Caucasus region. I look forward to the day when the Armenian people never have to fear such attacks.
Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to raise awareness of the mass murder of Armenians during the state-sponsored pogroms 26 years ago in Sumgait, Azerbaijan. These ethnically motivated mass killings were an affront to basic human rights and the continued lack of international recognition and acknowledgment represents a grave injustice.
Peaceful demonstrations by Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh, who sought freedom and protested against policies that discriminated against Armenians, were met with violence against the Armenians of Sumgait, who were hundreds of miles away, defenseless, and targeted simply because they were Armenians. Nearby security forces allowed the violence to continue unabated and turned a blind eye to the horrific violence directed against Armenian civilians. True democracies must respect the rights of the minority and the human rights of all residents.
On July 27, 1988, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Amendment 2690, which called upon the Soviet government to “respect the legitimate aspirations of the Armenian people”, and noted that “dozens of Armenians have been killed and hundreds injured during the recent unrest.” The U.S. Senate passed an amendment in July 1988, acknowledging that even the Soviet authorities had described these massacres as a ‘pogrom’.
Today, I remember the victims and ask this body to join me in honoring their memories. I yield back.
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the anniversary of the pogrom that took place in Sumgait, Azerbaijan against people of Armenian descent. A pogrom is a violent riot aimed at massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group. On the evening of February 27, 1988 hundreds of Armenians were massacred in the seaside town of Sumgait in Soviet Azerbaijan. This violence against Armenians continued for three days and resulted in the reported killing of 32 people, with countless others that remain unaccounted for.
It is my hope that by speaking out publicly against atrocities suffered by our brethren around the world, we will help reaffirm America’s commitment to an enduring, peaceful and democratic resolution.
I ask that my colleagues join me in solemnly commemorating the death of these innocent lives. My thoughts are with the Armenian community, especially those that lost loved ones during the pogrom at Sumgait 26 years ago.