WASHINGTON–DC–In a deeply troubling development–the Republic of Armenia has added to a list of countries whose non-immigrant male nationals over the age of 16 residing in the United States must register with the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
After September 11–2001–the INS began requiring nationals from designated countries believed to harbor terrorists to submit to this special registration process. These designated countries include: Iraq–Iran–Lebanon–Libya–Sudan–Syria–and the United Arab Emirates–among others.
Armenia’s addition to this group of nations has raised concerns for the Armenian community across the nation. ANCA and Armenian community leaders have expressed outrage at this decision by the INS and the Bush Administration–questioning why Armenia is being singled out and included on such a list. Armenia is the only former Soviet republic to be included as well as the only Christian country. Since the events of September 11–2001–Armenia was one of the first countries to offer the United States its full cooperation in the War on Terrorism.
The ANCA issued a statement that was delivered to President George W. Bush calling on him to explain this sudden and inexplicable decision by the Administration–and to make public any information that may have led to the inclusion of Armenia on such a list.
"We are deeply troubled by this decision on the part of the Bush Administration," stated Aram Hamparian–ANCA Executive Director. "We call on President Bush to explain why Armenia has been singled out for this treatment when the US government has never considered Armenia to be the home of any terrorist organization–unlike the other countries on the INS list. Armenian Americans throughout the United States deserve to know why the President has chosen this discriminatory policy when only a few months ago he was expressing the United States’ profound gratitude for Armenia’s cooperation in the War on Terrorism."
On April 24 2002–President Bush stated: "The United States greatly values the contributions Armenia’s make to our national life. . . The United States is also deeply grateful for Armenia’s swift and decisive cooperation in the war against terrorism. Just as the United States reached out to the Armenian people to provide shelter and freedom early in the last century–so did Armenia extend a supportive hand to the American people in the immediate aftermath of September 11. Our two peoples stand together in this fight in support of values that define civilization itself."
The ANCA has also raised the issue of Azerbaijan’s conspicuous absence form this list–given its record of harboring Al-Qaeda terrorists dating back to 1992. Additionally–the Republic of Georgia–which has frequently been cited by the US government as being a place of refuge for Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups–is also absent from the INS list.