Requests Robust Aid for Armenia’s Security and the Return of Artsakh Refugees
WASHINGTON – The Armenian National Committee of America this week renewed the Armenian American community’s calls on the U.S. House to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its genocide of Artsakh, ensure conditions for the safe return of Artsakh Armenians to their indigenous homeland, and provide humanitarian aid to Artsakh refugees and security assistance to Armenia.
In testimony submitted to the House Foreign Affairs Europe Subcommittee hearing on “The Future of Nagorno Karabakh,” ANCA Programs Director Alex Galitsky outlined priorities across five key areas:
Holding Azerbaijan Accountable for Ethnic Cleansing
With the Senate’s unanimous passage of the Armenian Protection Act (S.3000) this week blocking U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025, the ANCA urged the House Foreign Affairs Committee to immediately consider companion bills (HR5683 & HR5686). The ANCA also urged the Biden Administration to “immediately, unconditionally, permanently and publicly enforce restrictions on military assistance to Azerbaijan pursuant to Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, and impose Global Magnitsky Sanctions against Azerbaijani officials complicit in human rights abuses.”
Galitsky explained that “the US failure to hold Azerbaijan accountable would not only embolden Baku amid its threats toward sovereign Armenia – it would undermine any confidence in Washington’s supposed commitment to human rights and democracy as a tenet of its foreign policy, and demonstrate that confronting the threat of authoritarianism is only a priority when geopolitically expedient.”
Providing Humanitarian Assistance to Armenia
In response to USAID’s recent announcement of just $11,500,000 in humanitarian assistance to Artsakh’s refugees, the ANCA testimony pointed out that figure amounts to only about $95 per person. The ANCA asked for additional humanitarian assistance via “supplemental funding bills” and stresses the time-sensitive needs of the refugees including but not limited to, “psychosocial support, trauma therapy, medical assistance for individuals with disabilities, permanent shelter for families ahead of the impending winter, maternity care, and consistent access to basic human necessities.” The ANCA also stressed the importance of support programs for long-term economic security through professional assistance in the form of, “ensuring fair employment practices, access to education and vocational training, as well as the development of regional infrastructure and promoting long-term sustainable development goals.”
Securing Armenia from Renewed Azerbaijani Aggression
“While the Biden Administration continues to express optimism in the prospects of peace in the South Caucasus, Azerbaijani officials – far from satiated by their territorial expansionism – continue to make inflammatory territorial claims against sovereign Armenian territory,” stated Galitsky, noting that Azerbaijan already occupies 215 square kilometers (83 sq. miles) of Armenian territory since their military incursion into the southern provinces of the country in September 2022. He also pointed out that “Azerbaijan’s aggressive posturing against Armenia and threats of further military action are supported by Turkey, which continues to play a destabilizing role in the region.”
The ANCA went on to recommend the U.S. provide at least $10,000,000 in military financing to meet security needs and deter further Azerbaijani aggression. Regarding Turkey, the ANCA called for an investigation into potential violations of arms export law and end-use agreements related to Turkey’s participation in the 2020 Artsakh War, and urged suspending the sale and transfer of F-16s to Ankara.
With regard to strengthening Armenia’s border security, the ANCA advocated that the U.S., similar to Canada, participate in the European Union’s Monitoring mission in Armenia (EUMA) and join France in opening a U.S. consulate in Syunik.
Supporting an Internationally Guaranteed Right to Return
Noting that, under international law, refugees are guaranteed a legal right to return to the country from which they were displaced the ANCA urged the U.S. to “proactively support the right of Armenians to return to Artsakh with robust security guarantees under the auspices of an international mission.” Specifically, the ANCA recommended, “the U.S. engage with international partners to establish an international monitoring mechanism – through the passage of a United Nations Security Council Resolution – that ensures the safety and security of the Armenian people who seek to return to their homes.”
Investigating Human Rights Abuses
The ANCA detailed Azerbaijan’s pattern of human rights abuses, including “summary execution of prisoners and hostages, the deliberate targeting of schools, medical facilities, homes and churches, and the use of prohibited weapons including cluster munitions and white phosphorus.” Galitsky also stressed that the humanitarian blockade of Artsakh constituted genocide under internationally recognized conventions. In its policy recommendations, the ANCA urged the House Foreign Affairs Committee to “immediately mark up House Resolution 735, calling for an investigation into Azerbaijan’s human rights practices pursuant to Section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and assert its oversight role over U.S. military assistance to Azerbaijan. The U.S. must also work to secure the immediate release of Armenian POWs unlawfully held by Azerbaijan and amnesty for the illegally detained members of Artsakh’s political leadership.”