BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
Representative Adam Schiff introduced a resolution in Congress on Monday calling for the recognition of Artsakh’s independence and self-determination, while condemning Azerbaijan for its continued aggression against Artsakh and Armenia.
Schiff announced he will introduce the resolution in an exclusive interview with Asbarez on Sunday saying that the measure “would put the United States on record [to] recognize the right to self-determination of the people of Artsakh.”
“I am desperately concerned that Azerbaijan is planning another war on Artsakh or on Armenia itself. I think this would be a powerful message to the dictator in Baku that on a bi-partisan basis we are going stand for the people of Artsakh,” Schiff told Asbarez. “We need to end this blockade, we need to end to this unprovoked violence by Azerbaijan.”
“This resolution will signal the United States’ commitment to democratic peoples everywhere and in particular, Artsakh,” Schiff emphasized.
The Democratic Congressman who represents the largest Armenian-American constituency in the county raised the alarm about the worsening humanitarian conditions in Artsakh and warned that it is becoming more dangerous.
“We need to bring attention to this issue. We need to reach out to all members of Congress throughout the country, all the U.S. Senators, to weigh in with the [Biden] Administration,” Schiff said.
“The Administration needs to do more than talk in morally equivalent terms. There is no moral equivalency here. It does no good to call on both sides to refrain from violence and provocation when only one side is a belligerent, and that’s Baku,” emphasized Schiff.
He said that elected officials must hear from the community and their constituents “because we need to amp up the pressure on the Administration to do something for Artsakh. Foreign capitals, as well as our own people, pay attention to what goes on in Congress and where what our priorities are—and what members of Congress are willing to do and say,” Schiff said.
The Congressman said that the resolution “will certainly get attention in Azerbaijan. They need to know that we are going to stand up for Artsakh and their provocations are just accelerating the timetable to recognize Artsakh.”
“At a time when Artsakh’s very existence is threatened every day by Azerbaijan and after more than thirty years of proof that the people of Artsakh have the ability and desire to live in a free and democratic state, this initiative by Congressman Adam Schiff to take a stand recognizing Artsakh’s independence and condemning Azerbaijan’s ongoing aggression will send a clear signal to Baku that the status quo is untenable,” Nora Hovsepian, the chair of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region said.
“The ANCA Western Region is grateful to Congressman Schiff for his leadership on this issue and looks forward to continue working with him toward U.S. recognition of Artsakh’s independence through remedial secession as the only way to protect the people of Artsakh from the oppressive Azeri regime,” added Hovsepian.
The language of the resolution:
- Recognizes the independence of the Republic of Artsakh, consistent with the right to self-determination enshrined in various UN instruments and the people of Artsakh’s 1991 vote and decision to declare their independence from Azerbaijan;
- Urges the United States to engage proactively in supporting international recognition of the status of the Republic of Artsakh;
- Condemns the ongoing blockade of the Lachin Corridor and unprovoked attacks by the Azerbaijani forces on Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and calls for Azerbaijan to immediately cease its blockade and aggressions against Armenia and Artsakh without conditions;
The resolution also:
- Calls for all United States foreign and military assistance to Azerbaijan to be immediately ceased pursuant to the section 907 of the Freedom Support Act and for the Administration to make clear to the government of Azerbaijan that further attacks on Armenia and Artsakh will result in sanctions and other measures;
- Stands firmly in support of our democratic partner Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and against Azerbaijan’s military aggression and blatant violations of international laws and norms; and
- Supports the United States and international humanitarian assistance programs to meet the urgent needs of victims of Azerbaijani aggression in both Armenia and Artsakh.
Schiff Statement on Armenian Genocide
Schiff issued the following statement to commemorate the 108th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
“Mardiros Deovletian, Shooshan Hounanian, Azniv Totigian, Mariam Minasian, Hadji Martiros Temelian, Armenouhi Toutikian. These names represent a few, but a precious few, of the more than 1.5 million men, women, and children who lost their lives in the first genocide of the 20th century.
One hundred and eight years ago, the Ottoman Empire began a systematic effort to destroy the Armenian people. Teachers, writers, businessmen, and doctors were rounded up and killed, clergy were tortured and burned alive in churches, infants were ripped from their mothers’ arms, sons and daughters witnessed their fathers being murdered, and children died gasping for a drop of water. Many Armenians were killed outright, and others, including the Father of Armenian Music, Gomidas Vartabed, suffered emotional trauma after witnessing the sheer magnitude of the massacres.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of this methodical mass killing, Turkey has long engaged in a campaign to deny the genocide and to silence those who would speak the truth.
But the United States will no longer be silenced. In 2019, for the first time in history, the U.S. House passed my resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide by a near unanimous and bipartisan margin. The Senate too passed a resolution affirming the facts of the Armenian Genocide. And in 2021, President Joe Biden finally cast aside decades of shameful silence by our nation to become the first sitting U.S. president to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.
These historic achievements happened because of a resilient and enduring Armenian diaspora. It’s a testament to the unwavering efforts of thousands of activists, organizations, communities, and church leaders. It’s a victory for human rights, and for truth itself, and it’s something we achieved together.
But we know there remains work to do. Our thoughts and our hearts are with Armenia and Artsakh, because the Armenian people are still under duress and attack, and have suffered the losses of many who died in Artsakh, the thousands who were forced to flee from the unprovoked aggression by Azerbaijan and Turkey, and those who remain prisoners of war. Azerbaijan’s unprovoked assaults on sovereign Armenian territory and the brutal blockade of Artsakh risk another genocide. We have seen this before, and we must not allow it to happen again.
These are the horrific consequences when aggression and hatred grow unchecked and when Aliyev’s hostility is met with deafening silence, emboldening him to continue, and expand, his unprovoked attacks on the Armenian people. This is why Azerbaijan is emboldened to believe it can annihilate Armenians in their historical homeland. We cannot allow violence and crimes against humanity to go unanswered, whether they occurred one hundred and eight years ago or as recently as this year or even this month.
The United States must impose sanctions on Azerbaijan, and U.S. support for the warmongers in Baku must stop. The United States must continue to pressure Aliyev to immediately reopen the Lachin Corridor, direct U.S. humanitarian assistance to Artsakh, call for the safe and unconditional release of the remaining Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians, hold Azerbaijan accountable for the destruction of religious and cultural sites, and support democracy in Armenia and a free, independent Artsakh.
On this solemn anniversary, as we pause to remember the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide, we also reflect on the resilience of those who survived, and the perseverance of their children and grandchildren, who built new lives in the United States, speak the beautiful Armenian language, and enrich our nation with the Armenian culture and heritage. Despite the trials the Armenian people have faced and continue to face, it has not broken their faith, determination, or their will to survive. They have overcome the harshest of trials and tribulations, and yet, they remain strong and unbowed, here in Los Angeles, in Yerevan, in Artsakh and around the world.”