Members of Congress Asked to Mark Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Baku Pogroms; Reaffirm Support for Nagorno Karabakh
WASHINGTON–U.S. Representatives Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Judy Chu (D-CA) marked the anniversary of the Sumgait and Baku pogroms by speaking out this week in the U.S. House of Representatives in condemnation of Azerbaijan’s aggression and ongoing threats against Nagorno Karabakh, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
Armenian Americans and pro-Armenian stakeholders from across America have encouraged Members of Congress to publicly condemn Azerbaijani aggression and openly defend the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh’s freedom. An ANCA action alert in support of Congressional statements is available on the ANCA website:
In his remarks, Rep. Wolf noted that, “Shortly after the break-up of the Soviet Union, Armenians in Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh endured great hardship, including pogroms in Sumgait (February 1998), in Kirovabad (November 1988) and in Baku (January 1990),” and went on to quote a recent alarming report from Bloomberg News that, “Azerbaijan is buying up modern weaponry to be able to regain control of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.” “Such acts of aggression,” stressed the Virginia legislator, “would have a devastating impact.”
Congresswoman Chu, in her speech, reminded her colleagues that, “Between 1988 and 1990, the Armenian population was the target of racially motivated pogroms in Azerbaijan. Hundreds of Armenians were murdered and more wounded during three violent attacks in Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Baku.” She added that she remained concerned that, “the sentiments that sparked this violence still remain,” and that Azerbaijan is building up its arsenal to renew its aggression against Nagorno Karabakh conflict.
The full text of Rep. Wolf’s and Rep. Chu’s remarks are provided below.
From 1988 to 1990, the Armenian population in Soviet Azerbaijan was the target of racially motivated pogroms against Armenians in the cities of Sumgait (February 27-29, 1988), Kirovabad (November 21-27, 1988) and Baku (January 13-19, 1990).
At the time, Members of Congress condemned these premeditated and officially-sponsored attacks against Armenian civilians and passed amendments and resolutions demanding respect for the democratic aspirations of the people of Nagorno Karabakh.
These pogroms set the stage for two decades of aggression by Azerbaijan, during which it launched and lost a war against Nagorno Karabakh, and later used its oil wealth to buy a massive military arsenal that its leaders, to this day, vow to use to renew their attempts to conquer a Christian people that has lived on these lands for thousands of years and, after great challenges, has flourished in freedom from Soviet oppression for more than 20 years.
A detailed ANCA overview of Azerbaijani aggression against its Armenian population in Sumgait, Kirovabad and Baku as well as concrete ways Congress can assist in the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict can be viewed here:
Text of Congressman Wolf’s Statement
REMEMBERING THE NAGORNO-KARABAKH CONFLICT
Wednesday, February 1, 2012, page E110
Mr. WOLF: Mr. Speaker, in 1994 I was part of a delegation, organized by Christian Solidarity International, that visited Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
In Nagorno-Karabakh I saw horrible conditions: doctors operating without anesthesia using only a stiff dose of cognac; land mines planted by the retreating Azeri army which resulted in injury and amputation of limbs of women and children as well as soldiers and people living in hazardous partially bombed-out apartment buildings in the cities and in lean-tos among the debris of demolished villages.
Upon my return, I urged Congress not to forget the long-suffering people of Nagorno-Karabakh And I rise today to do the same.
In 1921, Joseph Stalin, then the commissar for nationality affairs in the Transcaucasia Bureau of the Communist Party, declared Nagorno-Karabakh to be an autonomous region controlled byAzerbaijan as part of his divide and rule strategy. Historically, the majority of the population in Nagorno-Karabakh has been Armenian and the people have always had close ethnic, religious and familial ties with Armenia.
In the years leading to the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Karabakh Armenians petitioned in 1987 for inclusion of Nagorno-Karabakh in the state of Armenia In 1991, they petitioned for independent state status. To date, the situation remains unresolved.
Shortly after the break-up of the Soviet Union, Armenians in Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh endured great hardship, including pogroms in Sumgait (February 1998), in Kirovabad (November 1988) and in Baku (January 1990).
A January 19, 1990, New York Times article described the Baku pogrom as a “massacre.” That same article also pointed to the violence in 1988, when, “armed Azerbaijanis rampaged through the town of Sumgait and slaughtered 32 people, mostly Armenians”
These horrific acts of targeted violence are as deplorable today as they were more than two decades ago. Tragically, tensions remain high in the region. A January 16 Bloomberg article reported that, “Azerbaijan is buying up modern weaponry to be able to regain control of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region quickly and with few losses should peace talks with neighboring Armenia fail, President Ilham Aliyev said.”
Such acts of aggression would have a devastating impact. It is critical that the U.S. works toward a lasting, peaceful and democratic solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Text of Congresswoman Chu’s Statement
ANNIVERSARY OF ARMENIAN POGROMS
Ms. CHU: Between 1988 and 1990, the Armenian population was the target of racially motivated pogroms in Azerbaijan. Hundreds of Armenians were murdered and more wounded during three violent attacks in Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Baku.
Though the ethnic cleansing programs occurred over 20 years ago, they were atrocious acts of cruelty. We cannot forget them. I worry the sentiments that sparked this violence still remain in the Nagorno-Karabakh. Just last month, Azerbaijan began buying up weapons to regain control of the region. The President of Azerbaijan declared this is, “not a frozen conflict, and it’s not going to be one.”
America must remain committed to a peaceful and democratic resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, not one that relives the past.