State Senate Committee on Armenia and Artsakh Demands Peace and Accountability

State Senator Anthony Portantino with then Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan and former Artsakh President Bako Sahakian (right) hold up rug depicting the State of California in 2018 in Stepanakert
State Senator Anthony Portantino with then Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan and former Artsakh President Bako Sahakian (right) hold up rug depicting the State of California in 2018 in Stepanakert

State Senator Anthony Portantino with then Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan and former Artsakh President Bako Sahakian (right) hold up rug depicting the State of California in 2018 in Stepanakert

SACRAMENTO—In response to Azerbaijan’s unprovoked attacks on the Republic of Artsakh, members of the bi-partisan State Senate Select Committee on California, Armenia and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art and Cultural Exchange wrote to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo condemning the Azeri aggression and demanding a peace process. Since the launch of the large-scale aggression on September 27, Azerbaijani forces have targeted civilian settlements in Artsakh.

The State of California is home to a vibrant Armenian American community which is impacted by the violence along the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border.  In the weeks leading up to the attacks, the San Francisco Armenian American Community was also subjected to hate crimes.

In the letter to Secretary Pompeo, the Senators call on the Trump Administration and US State Department to condemn Azerbaijan’s aggression towards the Republic of Artsakh and to take a more proactive role in establishing permanent and lasting peace in the region.

The Senate letter

The Senate letter

“I am proud to Chair the important State Senate Select Committee tasked with fostering mutual benefits between California, Armenia and Artsakh.   Our Committee stands in solidarity with the Armenian and Artsakh people and is calling for the United States to demand an immediate ceasefire.  We also strongly urge the U.S. to rally the international community to negotiate a lasting peace in the region.  California and the United States are home to a vibrant Armenian community which has strong ties to Artsakh and whose people should be able to peacefully live their lives without facing unprovoked violent attacks,” commented Senator Anthony J. Portantino, Chair of the State Senate Select Committee.

Portantino was one of the first California lawmakers to condemn Azerbaijan’s brutal attacks on Artsakh.

“Having spent significant time in Artsakh over the past 5 years I have seen a peaceful people who have bravely lived under the threat of violence for three decades. The children and families I broke bread with deserve to fulfill the promise of their lives without bombs and border aggression threatening their futures,” said Portantino in a statement on September 28, a day after the attacks began.

“I am extremely disheartened by the unprovoked attack on Artsakh by Turkish backed Azerbaijan forces. The recent actions of Aliyev and Erdogan to increase combative tactics and undermine the tenuous 30 years of peace needs to be condemned by the international community. The United States and the international community must hold Azerbaijan and Turkey accountable and call for immediate de-escalation and an end to all military actions. The Trump administration should halt all economic assistance to Azerbaijan and work through the OSCE Minsk group to establish a lasting peace in the region,” added Portantino in his statement.

“A failure to act swiftly now will encourage aggression and lead to more loss of innocent life,” emphasized the state senator.

In addition to Chair Portantino, the following Senators sit on the Select Committee:  Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera), Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno), Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), Susan Rubio  (D-Baldwin Park), Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles), Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita).

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