Urge State and Treasury Departments to Use Global Magnitsky Act to Hold Azerbaijan Accountable for Gross Human Rights Violations
WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of 96 U.S. Senate and House members have called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to apply their discretionary authority under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to sanction Azerbaijani leaders responsible for the brutal blockade and attacks on Nagorno Karabakh’s (Artsakh) 120,000 indigenous Armenian Christian population, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“President Biden needs to stop rewarding genocide and start holding its perpetrators accountable. That begins with cutting off military aid to Azerbaijan and enforcing sanctions against its leaders for ethnically cleansing 120,000 indigenous Armenians from their ancient Artsakh homeland,” stated Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
POLITICO’s National Security Daily was the first to report on the powerful letter led by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Representatives Seth Magaziner (D-RI), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
The 96 lawmakers stress, “in order to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions in blockading and assaulting Nagorno-Karabakh, we respectfully request that your departments exercise existing authorities under the Global Magnitsky Act to impose targeted sanctions on the individuals in the Aliyev government that are responsible for or participated in the violation of human rights in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
The Senate and House members stated, “These actions represent a gross violation of human rights and the perpetration of violent conflict, which both pose a direct assault on American values and interests. The perpetrators of these human rights violations must be held to account by the United States.”
Joining Senators Whitehouse and Cassidy and Representatives Magaziner, Bilirakis, and Pallone in cosigning the letter to Secretaries Blinken and Yellen are:
Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Robert Casey (D-PA), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Fetterman (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Representatives Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Cori Bush (D-MO), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Joaquín Castro (D-TX), Jim Costa (D-CA), Danny Davis (D-IL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Charles Fleischmann (R-TN), Jesus Garcia (D-IL), Dan Goldman (D-NY), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Val Hoyle (D-OR), Jonathan Jackson (D-IL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Greg Landsman (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Susie Lee (D-NV), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Tom McClintock (R-CA), James McGovern (D-MA), Rob Menendez (D-NJ), Grace Meng (D-NY), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Katie Porter (D-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Deborah Ross (D-NC), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Shri Thanedar (D-MI), Dina Titus (D-NV), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Norma Torres (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA), David Trone (D-MD), David Valadao (R-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Susan Wild (D-PA), and Nikema Williams (D-GA).
The full text of the bi-cameral congressional letter is provided below and available here:
September 26, 2023
The Honorable Antony J. Blinken Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
The Honorable Janet Yellen
Secretary of the Treasury
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20220
Dear Secretaries Blinken and Yellen,
We urge the Departments of State and Treasury to immediately exercise discretionary authority to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (Global Magnitsky Act, Title XII, Subtitle F of P.L. 114-328; 22 U.S.C. §10101 et seq.) on individuals in the government of Azerbaijan associated with the military attacks against and brutal blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh. These actions represent a gross violation of human rights and the perpetration of violent conflict, which both pose a direct assault on American values and interests. The perpetrators of these human rights violations must be held to account by the United States.
Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan has blocked the Lachin Corridor, the only route connecting Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh, depriving some 120,000 Armenians of freedom of movement and access to food, medication, hygiene products, and other commercial goods. The blockade’s effects are particularly acute for at-risk groups, such as children, elderly people, people with disabilities and chronic health conditions, whose access to healthcare services is severely limited or disrupted. Local journalists have reported a rise in miscarriages and premature births due to pregnant women not having access to proper nutrition and prenatal care. Azerbaijan has also undermined the region’s gas and electricity supply, impacting the functioning of medical and educational institutions and cutting heat as yet another winter approaches.
After over nine months of trying to starve out the ethnic Armenian population in Nagorno- Karabakh, the Azerbaijani military launched a full-scale assault on the region on September 19, resulting in a ceasefire and the capitulation of the local government on September 20. This attack has exacerbated concerns about the worsening of the humanitarian crisis, and statements from the government of Azerbaijan about “re-integration” raise the specter of ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide. Additionally, an explosion at a fuel station killed at least 125 civilians and wounded nearly 300 as thousands of ethnic Armenians fled Nagorno-Karabakh in fear of violence from Azerbaijani forces. This horrific incident tragically underscores the urgent need for humanitarian aid and access.
America is a world leader on international human rights and must continue to serve as a mediating force and supporter of peace in the region. In order to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions in blockading and assaulting Nagorno-Karabakh, we respectfully request that your departments exercise existing authorities under the Global Magnitsky Act to impose targeted sanctions on the individuals in the Aliyev government that are responsible for or participated in the violation of human rights in Nagorno-Karabakh.