In a “Dear Colleague” letter, leaders of the California Armenian Legislative Caucus on Friday urged their fellow lawmakers to “not spread misinformation” emanating from Azerbaijani propaganda material circulated to legislative offices about a fabricated “Khojaly Massacre.”
The letter, signed by Assemblymembers Laura Friedman and Adrin Nazarian, as well as Senators Anthony Portantino, and Senator Scott Wilk on behalf of the California Armenian Legislative Caucus, said “the request [by the propaganda authors] is a falsification of history and truth.”
The Armenian Caucus urged fellow lawmakers “to stand with the California Armenian Americans… and not spread misinformation.”
Below is the text of the letter.
February 19, 2021
The California Armenian Legislative Caucus strongly urges you to stand with California Armenian Americans. Your office may have received a propaganda request regarding a fabricated Azerbaijani Khojaly Massacre. We urge you to stand with us and not spread misinformation.
The request is a falsification of the history and truth. In 1992, the Azeri’s shelled Armenian civilian targets using rockets in the Republic of Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh). As a result of Azeri attacks, Armenians suffered civilian casualties as well as hundreds of Armenians being kidnapped. With the help of Turkey, Azerbaijan blockaded all delivery of goods into Armenia: food, fuel, and medical supplies. Armenian forces had to neutralize Azeri fire in Khojaly and terminate the blockade. The Azeri’s goal of attacking and killing the Armenian people was very clearly deliberate.
Using loudspeakers for ten days, the Armenian forces announced to Khojaly inhabitants and Azeri forces that an attack was imminent. The announcements also informed Azeris that Armenians had dedicated a corridor for the safe passage of civilians to Azeri held areas. The Azeri authorities did nothing to facilitate the evacuation of their people. On February 25, 1992, the Armenian self-defense forces attacked Khojaly. Several Azeri civilians tried to flee through the corridor; however, Azeri forces fired at the column, killing an unknown number. Although the Armenians were successful in neutralizing the Azeri fire- power, Khojaly remained in Azeri hands for many months. Soon after the attack, Azeri authorities claimed that Armenians had committed genocide. There is no evidence for their allegation.
The request that your office received has turned the incident into an anti-Armenian campaign. This anti-Armenian stance is a fresh wound for Armenians as they have very recently been attacked by the Azeri’s, just as they were in 1992.
On September 27, 2020 Azerbaijan launched an unprovoked attack against the peaceful Republic of Artsakh by shelling military positions and innocent civilian populations indiscriminately. Turkey played an active role in supporting Azerbaijan’s aggression toward Artsakh by providing arms, logistical and communications support, and even transporting paid Jihadist mercenaries to Azerbaijan from Libya and the Turkish Syrian border. Armenia was forced to make significant concessions at the conclusion of the war.
On November 9, 2020, a ceasefire was declared that called upon the mutual release and exchange of prisoners. Azerbaijan has not yet released the prisoners of war and innocent civilians that are being held captive. All persons were to be exchanged. Azerbaijan has a history of gruesome treatment and human rights violations of captives. So far, only 54 Armenians, both civilians and soldiers have been returned from Azerbaijani custody while the number of missing Armenians continues to grow. Even after the ceasefire, Armenian soldiers have been captured and Azerbaijan has failed to acknowledge these soldiers as prisoners of war and want to try them in Azerbaijan on criminal charges. Azerbaijani soldiers are continuing to break the ceasefire and capture innocent Armenian soldiers and hold them as hostages only to unfairly extort political and territorial demands.
Furthermore, for more than a century, Turkey and Azerbaijan have maintained a violent history toward the Armenian people. Descendants of the Armenian Genocide continue to mourn the loss of 1.5 million ancestors murdered by the Turks and over 5,000 civilians and military personnel were killed in this conflict.
The California Armenian Legislative Caucus is a bi-partisan, non-political Caucus that encourages California Armenian Americans to advocate and participate in cultural, educational, governmental, and community efforts in California. Through advocacy, the Caucus strives to ensure that California Armenian Americans’ voices are heard and given a platform. The Caucus serves as a forum for members from the California Senate and Assembly to identify key issues affecting Armenian Americans and develop and empower the Armenian American community throughout California.
Armenian-Americans have been crucial to the contributions in the history of the United States and California since the major wave of Armenian settlers came here in the late 1890s. Today, California is home to more Armenians than anywhere in the United States. The contributions of Armenians to California culture and history have been remarkable. Armenians have brought their intellect and work ethic to bear in a variety of fields including agriculture, energy, medicine, technology, the arts, government, and more. The Caucus strives to educate Californians on Armenian American issues and celebrate the achievements of Armenian Americans in California.