ANCA-Backed Measure Calls for Biden Administration Enforcement of Section 907 restrictions on US military aid to Azerbaijan
WASHINGTON—Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) teamed up to introduce Anti-Blockade legislation on Thursday, backed by the Armenian National Committee of America and supported by a wide array of American civil society coalition partners, increasing U.S. pressure on Azerbaijan to end its nearly six-month long blockade of 120,000 Christian Armenians in their indigenous Artsakh homeland.
The measure is similar to H.Res.108, a bipartisan resolution spearheaded by Congressional Armenian Caucus co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and the Armenian Caucus leadership, which currently has 88 cosponsors.
The Senate introduction – which is supported by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who is an original cosponsor of the measure – is timed with the next round of U.S.-mediated Azerbaijan-Armenia peace talks, scheduled as early as next week in Washington DC. The measure specifically calls for U.S. sanctions against Azerbaijani officials responsible for the Artsakh blockade and ongoing anti-Armenian human rights violations and urges the Biden Administration to stop all military aid to Azerbaijan by fully enforcing Section 907 sanctions.
“Armenian and allied Americans thank Senators Padilla, Rubio, and Menendez for enforcing concrete costs and real-world consequences on Azerbaijan over its six-month-long blockade of Artsakh – starting with the immediate cut-off of all U.S. military aid to Baku,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “American taxpayers should not be asked to subsidize the armed forces of an authoritarian regime that neither needs nor deserves U.S. support.”
Armenians and allied Americans can voice support for the Padilla-Rubio Anti-Blockade measure by visiting https://anca.org/resolution.
“Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin Corridor—the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) to Armenia—is inhumane and unacceptable,” said Senator Padilla, upon introduction of the measure. “This blockade has created a humanitarian crisis, rendering the 120,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh without access to food, medicine, and other basic necessities. Our resolution would make it clear that the United States must take action to hold Azerbaijan accountable.”
Rep. Pallone welcomed the Senate introduction of the measure, stating, “I stand with my colleagues today in condemning Azerbaijan’s ongoing blockade of Artsakh. It’s clear that Azerbaijan’s blockage of the Lachin Corridor is coordinated and intended to shut off the only supply route for much of Artsakh’s food, medical supplies and transport, and other essential goods. We stand united in telling Azerbaijan to end this intentional humanitarian crisis.”
In addition to clearly and unequivocally condemning Azerbaijan’s six-month blockade, the resolution would place the U.S. Senate on record in favor of five practical remedies to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Artsakh caused by Azerbaijan’s blockade of food, medicine, and other vital necessities:
(1) Encourages the United States Government and the international community to petition the United Nations Security Council, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and other appropriate international bodies to investigate any and all war crimes committed by Azerbaijani forces against Armenian civilians;
(2) Calls for the deployment of international observers to the Lachin Corridor and Nagorno-Karabakh to explore opportunities for more effective and sustainable guarantees of security and peaceful development.
(3) calls on the President to immediately suspend any U.S. new, current, or pending military or security assistance to Azerbaijan, and to fully enforce Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act;
(4) supports U.S. sanctions under existing statutory authority against Azerbaijani officials responsible for the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh and other well-documented human rights violations committed against Armenians in the region such as the targeting of civilian infrastructure and the destruction of historic, cultural, and places of worship of great significance to Armenians;
(5) supports efforts by the United States, the European Union, and the international community to provide humanitarian assistance to victims of Azerbaijani aggression in Nagorno-Karabakh.