WASHINGTON—Pro Artsakh activists from across the US converged on the nation’s capital for a two-day mission to share a message of peace and democracy with senators and representatives, culminating in a Capitol Hill celebration of Nagorno Karabakh freedom, to be held on Wednesday evening, December 9th.
Community leaders from California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Tennessee joined Virginia, Maryland and DC advocates for the two-day marathon of meetings and visits, spotlighting expanded Azerbaijani violence, including an unprecedented barrage of tank fired heavy artillery launched against Artsakh forces on December 8th, which claimed the life of 24-year-old Garik Gurgen Avanesyan.
“Armenian Americans – many of whom who survived the Baku pogroms in 1990 – have come to Washington to share the fierce urgency of stopping Aliyev’s escalating attacks on Artsakh and Armenia and spotlighting the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh’s commitment to peace and democratic development,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Now is the time to implement the three concrete, common sense solutions for peace proposed by Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Ranking Democrat Engel and over 80 U.S. House members calling for the withdrawal of snipers, increase of OSCE observers and placement of gunfire locators to stop Azerbaijani violence.”
In an October 26th letter to Ambassador James Warlick, the U.S. representative to the OSCE’s Minsk Group tasked with reaching a resolution of Nagorno Karabakh-related security and status issues, Chairman Royce and his colleagues specifically called for the U.S. and OSCE to abandon their failed policy of false parity in responding to acts of aggression, noting that: “The longstanding U.S. and OSCE practice of responding to each new attack with generic calls upon all parties to refrain from violence has failed to de-escalate the situation. Instead, this policy of artificial evenhandedness has dangerously increased tensions. There will be no peace absent responsibility.”
During meetings, pro-Artsakh advocates also shared with Congressional offices that December, 2015, coincides with the 10th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s destruction of the historic Armenian cemetery located in the southern Nakhichevan region of Djulfa. The cemetery, once home to more than 10,000 intricately carved cross stones (khatchkars), was subjected to sustained attacks throughout the 20th Century.
In preparation for the “ANCA DC Fly-In for #NKPeace,” the ANCA Washington offices teamed up with the ANCA Western Region and Eastern Region to coordinate Congressional meetings to maximize Capitol Hill outreach. Republic of Nagorno Karabakh Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan joined pro-Artsakh advocates for a welcoming reception hosted by the ANCA, offering the latest news about Artsakh’s democratic and economic progress and answering questions about international diplomatic efforts to ensure its long-term freedom and development. Also joining advocacy day participants at the welcoming reception was California State Assemblyman and Congressional candidate Katcho Achadjian, who stressed the important role of active civic participation in the American political process.
Foreign Minister Mirzoyan will be the key note speaker at the Capitol Hill Celebration of Artsakh Freedom on December 9th, an annual event hosted in cooperation with the Congressional Armenian Caucus, Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, Office of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in the US and Armenian American groups, including the ANCA and Armenian Assembly.