WASHINGTON—Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) commemorated the victims of the Sumgait Pogroms at the hands of Azeri forces, on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the atrocities.
“We would like to thank Representatives Pallone and Eshoo for once again condemning the Soviet and Azerbaijani government-driven pogroms against the Armenian populations of Sumgait, Baku, and elsewhere in Azerbaijan,” said Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
“Next week marks the twenty-third anniversary of the Sumgait massacre. I stand today to recognize the massacres in Sumgait, Azerbaijan, and the continued Turkish and Azeri aggression against the Armenian people,” said Rep. Frank Pallone.
“This three-day rampage left dozens dead and hundreds injured, many burned alive. Women and minors were abused, scores of apartments were robbed, shops and kiosks were demolished, and thousands of people became refugees. The Sumgait massacre is but one example in a long line of Azerbaijan’s aggression and hostility against the Armenian people. Just two years later, the disappearance of a 450,000 strong Armenian community in Azerbaijan was witnessed. While Azerbaijan claims that events in Baku were about the liberation of Azerbaijani people from the Soviet occupation, the truth is that Mikhail Gorbachev had to send Soviet troops to the Azerbaijani capital to stop the mass killings and deportations of Armenians organized by the Government of Azerbaijan. The unfortunate fact is that the Azerbaijani Government was successful in ethnic cleansing and the mass deportation of the entire Armenian population of Baku. Despite the attempt by the Government of Azerbaijan to cover up the crimes of Sumgait and Baku, enough brave witnesses came forward to give an accurate account of the offenses. Having survived near annihilation at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish authorities, it is a testament to the indomitable spirit of the Armenian people that they were able to endure and overcome another genocide campaign during the pogroms that took place throughout Azerbaijan, including in its capital city of Baku. This anniversary reminds us yet again of the historical injustices the Armenian people have faced, and the need for strong U.S. engagement in the region to safeguard Armenia against the aggressive tactics of its neighbors,” he said.
In her remarks, Eshoo said, “Dozens of Armenians were killed, and hundreds more were wounded. During the pogrom, Armenian women and children were raped and people were set on fire and beaten to death while police stood by, unwilling or unable to intervene.”
“The violence touched off a broader attack against Azerbaijan’s ethnic Armenians, ultimately resulting in a war with Nagorno-Karabakh in which tens of thousands of people were killed. The conflict persists and remains unresolved today, as does the military blockade of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. The pogroms precipitated a massive refugee situation displacing hundreds of thousands of people, virtually eliminating Azerbaijan’s once-significant Armenian population. As people of conscience, this is a remembrance we must all engage in. For me, it is also a very personal remembrance. My own family members fled the slaughter of the Armenian Genocide under the Ottomans, and when we learned of the massacres against Armenians in 1988, we saw history repeating itself. These vicious acts of murder, targeted at ethnic groups, must be forcefully condemned whenever and wherever we see them. Yet 96 years after the slaughter, Congress has yet to officially recognize the Armenian genocide,” added Eshoo.
“Sadly, in the years since these atrocities, Azerbaijan has – despite losing its war of aggression – refused to abandon violence, as illustrated by its arms build-up, its ongoing threats of renewed war, and its all-too-frequent cross-border attacks. As we recall the terrible human costs of Baku’s aggression on all the peoples of the region, it is clear that, if we are to see a fair and lasting peace, the Aliyev regime must retreat publicly from its war-mongering and openly commit itself to a negotiated peace through the OSCE Minsk Group, added Hamparian.