Villaraigosa Walks Back Praise for Baku’s Human Rights Record

Antonio Villaraigosa (Los Angeles Times photo)
Antonio Villaraigosa (Los Angeles Times photo)

Antonio Villaraigosa (Los Angeles Times photo)

California’s Democratic gubernatorial hopeful and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, through a statement sent to Asbarez, walked back comments he made in praise of Azerbaijan’s human rights record during a 2014 junket to Baku.

Villaraigosa traveled to Baku in October of 2014 and was a speaker at the government-sponsored Baku International Humanitarian Forum, where Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev also spoke. In a television interview while in Baku Villaraigosa called Azerbaijan a “model nation” and a “force for peace.”

“After serving as Mayor, I misspoke about the Azerbaijani human rights record at a conference in Baku. Since then, I’ve had an opportunity to confer with human rights organizations who have chronicled Azerbaijan’s human rights record as one of the world’s worst. I condemn the invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan and am resolute in my support for a free and Democratic Artsakh,” said Villaraigosa in a statement forwarded to Asbarez on the occasion of the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

While mayor, Villaraigosa (second from left) welcomed Artsakh president Bako Sahakian (second from right) to City Hall. Also pictures Councilmember Paul Krekorian (right) and current LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

While mayor, Villaraigosa (second from left) welcomed Artsakh president Bako Sahakian (second from right) to City Hall. Also pictures Councilmember Paul Krekorian (right) and current LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

He preceded that above comment by saying: “in 2010, I met with Nagorno‐Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakian for talks on bilateral relations between Nagorno‐Karabakh and the City of Los Angeles.”

Below is the complete text of Villaraigosa’s statement.

As we commemorate the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, I once again stand firm with Armenian Americans to recognize the Armenian Genocide and honor the 1.5 million martyrs who were killed at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish Government.

It is long past time that the United States and all Western Governments recognize the Armenian Genocide. We must also denounce the invasion and violation of the sovereignty of the people of Artsakh by Azerbaijan.

Throughout my two decades of public service I have always worked hard to reach out to and work with Armenian Americans and their various civic and religious institutions. I have promoted a shared vision of democracy, inclusion, civil and human rights.

Since the early 1990s, I have repeatedly introduced resolutions condemning the Armenian Genocide in both the California State Legislature and the City Council.

In 2010, I met with Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakian for talks on bilateral relations between Nagorno‐Karabakh and the City of Los Angeles.

In 2012, I met with Armenian Prime Minster Tigran Sargsyan at Los Angeles City Hall where we discussed trade, tourism, and foreign direct investment.

After serving as Mayor, I misspoke about the Azerbaijani human rights record at a conference in Baku. Since then, I’ve had an opportunity to confer with human rights organizations who have chronicled Azerbaijan’s human rights record as one of the world’s worst. I condemn the invasion of Nagorno‐Karabakh by Azerbaijan and am resolute in my support for a free and Democratic Artsakh.

As Governor, I commit to remaining steadfast in my recognition of the Armenian Genocide and will use the power of my office to promote strong bi-­‐lateral ties with Armenia, including the promotion of trade and tourism. My appointees will reflect California’s amazing diversity through consultation with Armenian organizations to ensure strong representation from the Armenian American community.

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11 Comments

  1. State of Emergency said:

    How crass and/or corrupt can Tony Villar be?? If he’s that dumb not to see Azerbaijan for what it is then he doesn’t deserve the governorship. On the other hand, if he’s that corrupt to deal with the devil then again he doesn’t deserve the governorship. Either way, he’s cooked. And to think, he attended St.Leon’s Easter Divine Liturgy to win over the Armenian masses.

  2. Stepan said:

    Oops. Just realized how many Armenian votes statewide. I don’t know how anyone can call Azerbaijan a model of anything except oppressor. Well give him credit for admitting his error.

  3. Victor said:

    Why did it take four-and-a-half years for Mr. Villaraigosa to walk back comments praising Azerbaijan?

  4. Zareh said:

    The embodiment of an unreliable, dishonest and self-selling politician. A person ready and willing to lie, lies all the time!
    Stay away from this toxic political poz!

  5. Tavit said:

    Shame on you Asbarez , especially so called Asbarez Staff.. You are trying to change the Armenians mind with this artical. Now Armenians in California should vote for this turkey right?

  6. Hagop said:

    Any Armenian who votes for this idiot is an idiot. He is a typical, dirty, politician who does and says whatever and then “regrets” saying and doing just to win votes. Also, Armenians are conservative by nature (financial, social) so a vote for this imbecile is a vote for more progressive/liberal/democrats who don’t believe in families, favor socialist ideas and are against entrepreneurs/business/individual hard work, support “social justice”, affirmative action, are against guns (2nd Amendment) and so on. The Turks DISARMED our people to kill us so how can any Armenian be against guns/2nd Amendment? Armenians should vote REPUBLICAN on every election. Preservation of FAITH, FAMILY and FREEDOM is what every Armenian must fight for who has been given a gift of citizenship to the USA. Anything else is treasonous. It is no wonder how California went from the Golden State (Republican/Deukmejian years) to the Toilet State (Democrat year) due to Democrat mayors, governors, city councils, assembly members and everyone else in government. It is no surprise that California/Los Angeles is rated the state with the WORST quality of life (thank you Democrats). I am even ashamed of our own, Armenians in politics (Nazarian, Krekorian, others) who are helping destroy their respective municipalities in their quest for idiotic, “social justice” policies.

    • Victor said:

      So true!! Republican Armenians need to come out of their hideouts, stand shoulder to shoulder and vote for those candidates who will fight for Family Values, Freedom of Expression, Faith, and Hard Work to achieve goals (not for candidates offering “social justice” handouts like Welfare, Section 8, Housing Assistance, falsely obtained SSI…). It is sad to witness so many members of our community degrading themselves AND an entire community by receiving “government assistance”. When did we lose our pride? When did we turn into beggars?

    • Hagop said:

      Asbarez contributer, Mr. Garen Yegparian, is another one to add to the socialist/liberal/progressive list of individuals destroying the Armenian people living in the USA.

    • Raffi said:

      I agree with you, big time S hole and an idiot playing smart alec.

  7. phil long said:

    although mayor villaraigosa and i probably have radically different ideas on how to run the government of the u.s. (and california, for that matter), i am thrilled to see that he acknowledges his error. it is easy to make a mistake when one is unfamiliar with the history of a place or its people, however, and it takes a big man to admit that one was wrong. i am glad to see that he can that.

    one of the reasons i praise mr. villaraigosa’s statement is that i, too, used to make some of the same bad assumptions; when some armenians detonated a bomb in constantinople in the 1980s, and i read of the reason that they had set off a bomb, i thought that the genocide (which word the story i had read did not use) had happened a long time ago, and that the perpetrators should forget about it. at the time, i did not understand the monstrously large numbers of entirely innocent people who had been murdered, i did not understand how recent it had been (only one lifetime), and worst of all, i did not understand why the turks had committed mass murder. l soon learned that it was indeed genocide, but i still thought that the bombers had absolutely no cause for murdering innocents, and continued in my ignorance of islam, the motivator of the turks, for another 30 years.

    very recently, i learned about the beliefs taught by islam. what little i had known about it up until that time was learned by independent reading; i was taught only the dates of its conquests and the names of a few caliphs in school, all rapidly forgotten soon after i learned them. i had thought that islam was an “abrahamic” religion which had been established after christianity, and that a lot of basic beliefs were shared between the two religions, in the same way that a lot of basic beliefs are shared between judaism and christianity. what i did not know was that islam is filled with hatred for all who are not muslim, a contempt for infidels that encourages lying to them, stealing from them, attacking them, and murdering them. the vileness written in islamic scripture is breathtaking, and it turned my ideas of religion upside down.

    one of the most common quotes from the quran is 2:256 (“there is no compulsion in religion…”), indicating that muslims respect other religions. muslims may indeed respect other religions, but if so, they are not good muslims according to islamic scripture. based upon quran 2:106 (“Whatever communications We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or like it…”), along with other ayat, if there is a conflict between revelations, the later one prevails; since almost all of the later revelations are violent, islam as a whole is violent.

    like believers in any other religion, muslims are distributed along a spectrum of belief, ranging from MINO to complete piety. if one wishes to know islam, one should study its scriptures rather than ask a muslim, because muslims, like anybody else, may misunderstand, be unaware of, or reject parts of the scriptures; the religion itself, as described by its scriptures, is vile. that said, it *MUST* be remembered that individuals should be judged by their behavior, not that of a religion or ideology to which they claim to adhere. muslims themselves are not necessarily evil; it is the religion which is evil.

    but rather than take my word for it, since translations of the quran, the traditions, and the sira are easily available online, check for yourself. if i am wrong, then U can find evidence firsthand that demonstrates that islam really is a religion of peace, and it can be used to refute my arguments. is not the truth the best argument? don’t take my word, and don’t take the word of the imam down the street; check for yourself.

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