BY ARAM HAMPARIAN
U.S. diplomats and American media outlets are both guilty of fake parity – an artificial evenhandedness that strives to equate Armenia and Azerbaijan, despite the Armenian people’s remarkable progress and the Azerbaijani regime’s descent into dictatorship.
You can help the ANCA fact-check this false parity, by drawing upon these 20 real-world comparisons to set the record straight when you come across social media posts or biased reporting that tries to artificially equate Armenia and Azerbaijan:
1. Armenians stand on the side of peace –endorsing the Royce-Engel Peace Proposal calling on all parties to withdraw snipers, add observers, and deploy gunfire locators along the Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) line of contact. Azerbaijan is alone in obstructing implementation of this bipartisan plan.
2. Armenians stand on the side of democracy – having conducted free and fair elections in both Armenia and Artsakh that have been praised by international observers. Azerbaijan has been ruled by a one-family dynasty for nearly all of the past half century.
3. Armenians stand on the side of the May 1994 cease-fire and seek to strengthen this multilateral accord (signed by Artsakh, Azerbaijan, and Armenia). Azerbaijan seeks to undermine this agreement because it recognizes Artsakh as a full party to the peace process.
4. Armenians stand on the side of U.S. law (Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act) imposing statutory restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan until it has taken demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Artsakh. Azerbaijan hires foreign lobbyists to try to overturn this law.
5. Armenians stand on the side of co-existence and regional cooperation – seeking to settle outstanding Artsakh status and security issues through peaceful means. Azerbaijan’s President has said “Armenia is a country of no value,” and repeatedly asserted his aim of reclaiming Armenia’s capital city of Yerevan.
6. Armenians stand on the side of dialogue – supporting the U.S.-Artsakh Travel and Communications Resolution and encouraging Congressional fact-finding missions to Artsakh, direct legislative oversight of U.S. aid programs, and unfettered communication between the U.S. and Artsakh. Azerbaijan opposes dialogue and keeps a blacklist of international travelers to Artsakh.
7. Armenians stand on the side of inclusivity – encouraging the rightful return of Artsakh’s elected leaders to the peace talks about future status and security issues. Azerbaijan uses its OSCE veto to keep Artsakh locked out of the peace process.
8. Armenians stand on the side of self-determination – embracing the democratic principle in America’s own Declaration of Independence, which affirms that the just powers of government derive from the consent of the governed. Azerbaijan stakes its claim to Artsakh on an arbitrary decision by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
9. Armenians stand for international security – participating in NATO’s Partnership for Peace and deploying peacekeeping forces alongside American soldiers in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan risks a global nuclear nightmare by threatening a missile strike against Armenia’s nuclear power station.
10. Armenians stand on the side of religious freedom – having joined the International Religious Freedom Alliance. Azerbaijan was just recommended for a special State Department “watch list” by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
11. Armenians stand on the side of humanitarian aid – supporting the life-saving U.S. aid program to Artsakh that has, over the past two decades, provided maternal health care, delivered clean drinking water, and cleared vast areas of landmines and unexploded ordnance. Azerbaijan lobbies the U.S. to stop de-mining and end this investment in peace.
12. Armenians stand on the side of safe air travel – calling for an end to all blockades. Azerbaijan has issued a standing threat to shoot down civilian aircraft flying between Armenia and Artsakh.
13. Armenians stand on the side of U.S. states – welcoming recognition of Artsakh by California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Rhode Island. Azerbaijan unsuccessfully sought to interfere in the recognition of Artsakh by each of these states.
14. Armenians stand on the side of justice – demanding that ax-murderer Ramil Safarov be re-imprisoned for killing an Armenian officer in his sleep during a 2004 NATO training program in Hungary. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev pardoned the remorseless Safarov, promoting him, giving him back-pay, and holding him up as a national hero.
15. Armenians stand on the side of all faiths – respectfully restoring mosques in both Armenia and Artsakh. The Azerbaijani military, in 2005, desecrated a 1,300-year-old Christian Armenian cemetery in Djulfa, systematically crushing thousands of intricately carved stone crosses.
16. Armenians stand on the side of anti-discrimination – rejecting any attempts to demonize individual Azerbaijani citizens for the actions of their government. Azerbaijan massacred Armenians in Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad, and Maragha from 1988 through 1992, forcing the migration of over 300,000 Armenians from their ancestral homes. Azerbaijan also routinely denies visas to travelers with an Armenian name or Armenian ancestry, even those with U.S. citizenship.
17. Armenians stand on the side of genocide prevention – welcoming the near-unanimous Congressional passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution by the House (H.Res.296, adopted 405-11) and the Senate (S.Res.150, adopted 100-0). Azerbaijan condemned both votes.
18. Armenians stand on the side of inter-parliamentary cooperation – engaging constructively with the U.S. House Democracy Partnership (HDP) and hosting a visit by a delegation representing this bipartisan organization. Azerbaijan has not been invited to take part in the HDP partnership.
19. Armenians stand on the side of global health – endorsing the United Nations’ call for a global cease-fire during the COVID-19 pandemic. Azerbaijan has refused to support this cease-fire, launching a cross border attack against Armenia on July 19th, which has included the bombing of a kindergarten and PPE mask factory, and resulted in over 20 Azerbaijani and Armenian deaths.
20. Armenians stand on the side of the Armenian American community – honoring the countless contributions millions of Americans of Armenian heritage have made to every aspect of American life, including as soldiers in every U.S. war since the Civil War. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has called U.S. citizens of Armenian descent his country’s “main enemy.” Vandals, incited by the Azerbaijani government, recently spray-painted obscenities on an Armenian elementary school in San Francisco.
Aram Hamparian is the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America.