Reps. Sherman, Pallone, Schiff Condemn Azerbaijani Pogroms of Armenians

Clockwise from top left: Reps. Pallone, Sherman and Schiff
Clockwise from top left: Reps. Pallone, Sherman and Schiff

Clockwise from top left: Reps. Pallone, Sherman and Schiff

WASHINGTON – Azerbaijan’s ongoing aggression against Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and Armenia were condemned last week, during Congressional commemorations of the anti-Armenian pogroms in Sumgait, Kirovabad and Baku, which took place in 1988-1990, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

“We join with Representatives Sherman, Schiff, and Pallone in commemorating the anti-Armenian pogroms of a generation ago, knowing, all too sadly, that the very same state-sponsored intolerance that drove Azerbaijan’s violence continues until this day – no longer simply as attacks on defenseless civilians but as all-out military assaults against both Artsakh and Armenia,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We draw from these remembrances added resolve to save the free citizens of the Artsakh Republic from the fate that befell those in Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Baku.”

“I would like to commemorate the Armenian victims of the Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Baku massacres, to honor the memory of the murdered, and to stop future bloodshed,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), who serves as the Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. “If we hope to stop future massacres, we must acknowledge these horrific events and ensure they do not happen again. We must urge Azerbaijan to cease all threats and acts of coercion against the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh. We should actively monitor and condemn Azerbaijan’s violations of the ceasefire in Nagorno Karabakh.”

Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) concurred, noting that “If we do not condemn crimes against humanity and allow them to go unpunished and unrecognized we only strengthen the resolve of those seeking to perpetrate these crimes in the future. The Armenian people have known this for too long, as we prepare to commemorate the 102nd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in April.” Rep. Pallone pledged to “continue to work with my colleagues on the Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus to remember the victims of the pogroms at Sumgait and to condemn all acts of violence against people who are targeted simply because of their existence.”

In a lengthy statement submitted for the Congressional Record, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) reminded his colleagues that “The Sumgait massacre and the subsequent attacks on ethnic Armenians, resulted in the virtual disappearance of a once thriving population of 450,000 Armenians living in Azerbaijan, and culminating in the war launched against the people of Nagorno Karabakh.” Highlighting Azerbaijan’s ongoing aggression against Artsakh and Armenia, including the April, 2016, attacks that cost hundreds of lives, Rep. Schiff, once again, called for a “direct international response to Azerbaijan’s aggressive behavior through deployment of international monitors and technology to monitor ceasefire violations. Azerbaijan’s continued rejection of these simple steps speaks volumes, but I believe they should not prevent the installation of these technologies within Nagorno Karabakh. The anniversary of Sumgait is a reminder of the consequences when aggression and hatred is allowed to grow unchecked.”

The full text of statements submitted for the Congressional Record commemorating the Sumgait, Baku and Kirovabad pogroms are provided below.

From 1988 to 1990, the Armenian population in Soviet Azerbaijan was the target of racially motivated pogroms against Armenians in the cities of Sumgait (February 27-29, 1988), Kirovabad (November 21-27, 1988) and Baku (January 13-19, 1990).

At the time, Members of Congress condemned these premeditated and officially-sponsored attacks against Armenian civilians and passed amendments and resolutions demanding respect for the democratic aspirations of the people of Nagorno Karabakh.

These pogroms set the stage for two decades of aggression by Azerbaijan, during which it launched and lost a war against Nagorno Karabakh, and later used its oil wealth to buy a massive military arsenal that its leaders, to this day, vow to use to renew their attempts to conquer a Christian people that has lived on these lands for thousands of years and, after great challenges, has flourished in freedom from Soviet oppression for more than 25 years.

Learn more about the Sumgait, Kirovabad and Baku pogroms.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA): Mr. Speaker, we have reached the 29th anniversary of a dark chapter in modern history. During the Nagorno-Karabakh War of 1988 to 1994, Armenian civilians were indiscriminately attacked in the city of Sumgait. Today, I condemn these pogroms and commemorate the victims.

On the evening of February 27, 1988, a three-day rampage against Armenian civilians living in Sumgait, Soviet Azerbaijan began. Armenian civilians were hunted down and brutally assaulted. There were cases of rape, murder, and maiming of Armenian civilians.

The Soviet Union prohibited journalists from entering the area. It was reported that over 30 people were murdered and over 200 injured. However, it is believed that more, perhaps hundreds, were murdered by roving mobs.

Sadly, the Sumgait pogrom was only the beginning.

Despite international condemnation of the pogrom in Sumgait, another anti-Armenian pogrom occurred later that year in Kirovabad, Azerbaijan, from November 21st to 27th. Due to the brutality, the Armenians of Kirovabad and the surrounding areas were forced to flee their homes. Another crime against humanity occurred from January 13th to the 19th, in 1990. Members of the Armenian community of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, were assaulted, tortured and killed by violent mobs.

I would like to commemorate the Armenian victims of the Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Baku massacres, to honor the memory of the murdered, and to stop future bloodshed. If we hope to stop future massacres, we must acknowledge these horrific events and ensure they do not happen again. We must urge Azerbaijan to cease all threats and acts of coercion against the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh. We should actively monitor and condemn Azerbaijan’s violations of the ceasefire in Nagomo Karabakh.

Lastly, we must reaffirm America’s commitment to an enduring, peaceful and democratic resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict that includes the Nagorno Karabakh Republic as a party to negotiations.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the Sumgait pogroms, one of the most horrific attacks against the Armenian people, committed at the hands of Azerbaijanis 29 years ago.

On February 27, 1988, hundreds of Armenian civilians living in the city of Sumgait in Azerbaijan were indiscriminately killed, raped, maimed, and even burned alive for no reason other than their ethnicity. This senseless violence was instigated by hostile, anti-Armenian rhetoric from Azerbaijani citizens and officials against innocent Armenians.

For nearly three decades, Azerbaijan has taken steps to cover up these crimes against humanity and dismiss the atrocities at Sumgait. Even more disturbing is that perpetrators of this event and similar violent attacks have since been lauded as national heroes.

I condemn these horrific attacks. Tragically, the Azerbaijani government’s approach toward the Armenian people has not changed much since these attacks were perpetrated. In 2017, we hear the same violent rhetoric and witness the intimidation tactics by the Azerbaijani government against the people of Nagorno Karabakh.

If we do not condemn crimes against humanity and allow them to go unpunished and unrecognized we only strengthen the resolve of those seeking to perpetrate these crimes in the future. The Armenian people have known this for too long, as we prepare to commemorate the 102nd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in April.

I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus to remember the victims of the pogroms at Sumgait and to condemn all acts of violence against people who are targeted simply because of their existence. I hope my colleagues will join me in rejecting violent rhetoric and intimidation and renewing our commitment to achieving a collective peace.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the 29th Anniversary of the pogrom against the Armenian residents of the town of Sumgait, Azerbaijan. Twenty-nine years ago, Azerbaijani mobs assaulted and killed their Armenian neighbors. When the violence finally subsided, hundreds of Armenian civilians had been brutally murdered and injured, women and young girls were raped, and victims were tortured and burned alive. Those that survived the carnage fled their homes and businesses, leaving behind everything they had in their desperation.

The pogroms were the culmination of years of vicious anti-Armenian propaganda, spread by the Azerbaijani authorities. The Azerbaijani authorities made little effort to punish those responsible, instead attempting to cover up the atrocities in Sumgait to this day, as well as denying the role of senior government officials in instigating the violence. Unsurprisingly, it was not the end of the violence, and was followed by additional attacks, including the 1990 pogrom in Baku.

The Sumgait massacre and the subsequent attacks on ethnic Armenians, resulted in the virtual disappearance of a once thriving population of 450,000 Armenians living in Azerbaijan, and culminating in the war launched against the people of Nagorno Karabakh. That war resulted in thousands dead on both sides and created over one million refugees in both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Time has not healed the wounds of those murdered in the pogroms in Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Baku. To the contrary, hatred of Armenians is celebrated in Azerbaijan, a situation most vividly exemplified by the case of Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani army captain who savagely murdered an Armenian army lieutenant, Gurgen Margaryan with an axe while he slept. The two were participating in a NATO Partnership for Peace exercise at the time in Hungary. In 2012, Safarov was sent home to Azerbaijan, purportedly to serve out the remainder of his sentence. Instead, he was pardoned, promoted, and paraded through the streets of Baku as a returning hero.

The assault on ethnic Armenian civilians in Sumgait helped touch off what would become a direct conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno Karabakh. And today, Azerbaijan’s dangerous behavior on the Line of Contact threatens peace and stability in the region. Artillery and sniper fire across the Line of Contact has become a fact of daily life for civilians in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, causing numerous casualties. In April of last year, Azerbaijan launched its most aggressive attack in many years, resulting in the loss of many lives over the course of three days of intense fighting.

Along with other Members of Congress, I have consistently called for a direct international response to Azerbaijan’s aggressive behavior through deployment of international monitors and technology to monitor ceasefire violations. Azerbaijan’s continued rejection of these simple steps speaks volumes, but I believe they should not prevent the installation of these technologies within Nagorno Karabakh. The anniversary of Sumgait is a reminder of the consequences when aggression and hatred is allowed to grow unchecked.

Mr. Speaker, this April we will mark the 102nd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, an event the Turkish government, Azerbaijan’s closest ally, goes to great lengths to deny. We must not let such crimes against humanity go unrecognized, whether they occurred yesterday or 28 years ago or 100 years ago. Today, let us pause to remember the victims of the atrocities of the Sumgait pogroms. Mr. Speaker, it is our moral obligation to condemn crimes of hatred and to remember the victims, in hope that history will not be repeated.

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One Comment;

  1. David said:

    Please Stop using word “Pogroms” It Was a Genocide Yes Genocide I am from Sumgait and my father and he’s frend’s family of 5 was killed then body’s still alive Azerbaijani Radical muslims burnedthem!!!! I am a refuge I know the truth!!!!!
    Please STOP beig scared from Killer Ilham Aliev tell the truth use proper WORDS!!!!!!

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