LOS ANGELES- In response to the recent escalation of violence and war threats by the government of Azerbaijan against Armenians in Artsakh and the Republic of Armenia, Councilmember Paul Krekorian, the first Armenian-American elected to public office in the City of Los Angeles, urged U.S. Congressional leaders to take immediate action to save Armenian lives. In an recent letter to Southern California Congressmembers, Krekorian asked leaders to sign the Royce-Engel letter and hold Azerbaijan accountable for its crimes, refrain from further violence and take measures toward establishing a lasting peace in the region. Krekorian’s letter is attached and reprinted below:
As you know, more than 20 years after Artsakh’s declaration of independence and the ceasefire in its subsequent war with Azerbaijan, ongoing tension in the Caucasus region continues to devastate innocent lives and threaten regional stability. In particular, the Republic of Azerbaijan has engaged in both increasingly bellicose rhetoric and an increasing willingness to engage in active violence in violation of the ceasefire agreement.
In the past few weeks, for example, Azerbaijan’s shelling of villages in the Tavoush region of Armenia has killed numerous civilians, including 83-year-old Paytsar Aghajanyan, Sona Revazyan, 41, and Shoushan Asadryan, 94, along with at least four Armenian soldiers. Many other innocent civilians have been wounded in separate unprovoked attacks. Shellings like these, as well as cross-border killings by Azeri snipers, have taken countless lives of civilian men, women and children.
The response from our government has been pathetically weak. U.S. Ambassador and OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair James Warlick has said that both sides should refrain from violence, but the United States refuses to state clearly that there is only one state that continues to be the predominant aggressor and provocateur, and that is Azerbaijan.
Any statement of moral equivalence in the face of continued aggression by the government of Azerbaijan is not an acceptable way forward. It could give the world the perception that the U.S. government sees no difference between the perpetrators of violence and the victims. Our government has an obligation to stand on the right side of this issue and should not give Baku cover for their crimes against the Armenian people in Artsakh and in the Republic of Armenia.
I urge you to join so many of your colleagues in signing the Royce-Engel letter, calling for a transition away from a failed policy of false parity to a constructive, accountability-based approach to peacekeeping. Renewed U.S. leadership in keeping the peace along the Nagorno Karabakh line of contact is absolutely necessary as Azerbaijan steps up its attacks.
This sensible, bipartisan letter proposes three concrete steps to help save lives, avert war, and reach a just and lasting peace:
1. An agreement from all sides not to deploy snipers along the line of contact;
2. The placement of OSCE-monitored, advanced gunfire-locator systems and sound-ranging equipment to determine the source of attacks along the line of contact; and
3. The deployment of additional OSCE observers along the line of contact to better monitor cease-fire violations.
Armenia has already agreed to abide by these principles, but the Aliyev regime continues to refuse to do so.
Please sign the Royce-Engel letter today. Azerbaijan’s unprovoked attacks will continue unless we stand together for justice and peace. The government of Azerbaijan must honor its OSCE obligations to refrain from violence and to undertake confidence-building measures toward a lasting peace.
Thank you for your attention to this critical issue. I am confident that your leadership will make a material difference in helping to prevent the destructive slide toward a new war.
Very truly yours,
Los Angeles City Councilmember