ANCA Calls On Bush to Keep 907

Asbarez printed an article in the October 4th edition about the ANCA’s and Ken Hachikian’s–Chairman of the ANC Chicago–efforts to prevent the repeal of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. The following is the text of the letter addressed to President Bush written by Ken Hachikian.

Dear Mr. President:

In the weeks and months ahead–as you lead our nation’s response to the September 11th terrorist attacks upon our nation and our freedoms–please know that you have the prayers and full support of the Armenian-American community. We join with you in mourning those lost in this terrible tragedy and in your efforts to ensure that they did not die in vain–but rather in the first battle of a comprehensive campaign to end the scourge of terrorism upon the people of the United States and the world.

As a community–we are keenly aware of the consequences of failing to stand up against violence–intolerance–and intimidation. The failure–based on short-sighted political considerations–to hold the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide accountable paved the way for a century of additional atrocities–including the Holocaust–Cambodia–Rwanda–and the Balkans.

In this regard–I would like to address the matter of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act–which–as you know–was adopted by Congress and signed into law in 1992. This law represents a concrete manifestation of our nation’s enduring belief in open borders–free trade–and the peaceful resolution of regional conflicts in the face of ethnic intolerance and violence. For close to a decade–it has stood as our government’s most powerful instrument to end Azerbaijan’s crippling blockades of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh–which–for all intents and purposes–is the equivalent of economic terrorism.

It is our understanding that the Administration has in recent days supported efforts by members of Congress to repeal Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. We understand–as well–that the Department of State has indicated that–in the event that the Congress does not take this action–the State Department will recommend that you waive this provision of law.

Mr. President–the current statute requires that any presidential waiver of Section 907 be supported by your certification assuring Congress that Azerbaijan has indeed taken demonstrable steps to cease all blockades against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Unfortunately–the government of Azerbaijan has given no evidence whatsoever that it is prepared to fulfill this vital condition. On the contrary–Azerbaijan and Turkey have maintained a brutal–coordinated stranglehold over the Armenian economy.

Nor are there any grounds for Congress to repeal Section 907. It has been suggested by the State Department that–in the present circumstances–the US government needs Section 907 to be repealed by Congress to ensure that Azerbaijan’s cooperation is secured in our war against terrorism. We–as a nation–have a right to expect that all our friends will offer us their unconditional cooperation in this critical effort – as Armenia has done – without trying to bargain for advantage against US law. Indeed–in these circumstances–Azerbaijan must demonstrate that it is a responsible member of the international community by lifting its blockades–consistent with the fundamental premise of Section 907. There can be no gray areas in dealing with this principle.

While the State Department may well be arguing for the inclusion of Azerbaijan in the international coalition the US is assembling in the battle against terrorism–we are troubled that–in the process–we appear to be overlooking the responsibilities of "friends" such as Azerbaijan–which–according to Yossef Bodansky director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and an acknowledged expert on Osama bin Laden–harbors and supports international terrorists trained by bin Laden and which accepts "large quantities of cash from diverse [terrorist] sources?" A better solution would be to ask Azerbaijan to turn over these terrorists to the US–close down their bases of operation–and end the economic blockade of Armenia.

We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with the Administration over this and other issues of critical importance to the 1.5 million Armenian-Americans in our country.

Respectfully,

Kenneth V. Hachikian–Chairman

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