WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House Rules Committee cleared the path for full House consideration of an ANCA-backed amendment led by Representatives Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Brad Sherman (D-CA)calling for Azerbaijan’s immediate release of Armenian prisoners of war and requiring an investigation into the use of U.S. technology in drones used by Turkey and Azerbaijan to target civilians during their 2020 attacks against Artsakh.
The Rules Committee also voted to allow full House votes on pro-Artsakh/Armenia amendments led by Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ), David Valadao (R-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Jim McGovern (D-MA).
The amendments will be voted on during House consideration of the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R.4350), which may begin as early as Tuesday evening, September 21st. Pro-Artsakh/Armenia advocates can write, call, and tweet their U.S. Representatives to vote for the amendment by visiting anca.org/ndaa.
“We thank Chairman McGovern and his colleagues in the House leadership and on both the Armed Services and the Rules Committees for providing each member of the U.S. House of Representatives with the opportunity to cast up-or-down votes on amendments demanding the immediate release of Armenian POWs, requiring an investigation of Azerbaijani war crimes, a report on U.S. aid to Artsakh, banning the Grey Wolves, and other ANCA-backed amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We encourage our community activists and coalition partners – in the hours leading up to these House floor votes – to continue weighing in with their legislators, via calls, emails, and tweets.”
The Cardenas-Schiff-Sherman amendment states it is the sense of Congress that “Azerbaijan must immediately and unconditionally return all Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians.” It goes on to demand a report from the Secretary of Defense on the use of U.S. technology in Turkish drones used by Azerbaijan to attack Armenia and Artsakh during the 2020 war. The bi-partisan amendment was also cosponsored by Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Judy Chu (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Andy Levin (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Katie Porter (D-CA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), and David Valadao (R-CA). The full text of the amendment is available here.
“It is critical that we get a full accounting of the facts as we look to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions in Nagorno Karabakh last year,” said Rep. Cardenas. “I am glad to have worked closely with Reps. Schiff and Sherman to produce an amendment that does exactly that. This report is critical to getting a clear picture of the extent of Azerbaijan’s actions and any potential violations of international law. Additionally, it will make clear that the United States Congress expects Azerbaijan to honor its obligation to carry out the unconditional return of any remaining Armenian prisoners of war safely to Armenia. I am thankful for the bipartisan group of cosponsors that has joined us in this effort, and will work hard to see that the report gets done.”
Rep. Schiff concurred, adding, “It is unconscionable that as we approach the one-year anniversary of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan continues to illegally detain Armenian service members and captured civilians – a reality made even more horrific by ongoing reports that these prisoners of war are subject to torture in violation of international human rights conventions.” Rep. Schiff went on to note, “With this amendment, we are making it absolutely clear to the Aliyev regime that they have the obligation to release these prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and that the Biden administration should take every possible diplomatic action, including through the OSCE Minsk Group, to hold them to account.”
Other ANCA-backed amendments ruled “in order” by the House Rules Committee include:
— An amendment led by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), which requires a report from the Secretary of Defense, in collaboration with the Secretary of State, addressing allegations that some units of foreign countries that have participated in security cooperation programs under section 333 of title 10, U.S.C. may have also committed gross violations of internationally recognized human rights before or while receiving U.S. security assistance. Since 2016, Azerbaijan has received over $120 million in U.S. military assistance under section 333 funding, and would be in the list of countries scrutinized for committing human rights violations during and after the 2020 Artsakh War. The bi-partisan amendment was cosponsored by Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and David Valadao (R-CA). The full text of the amendment is available here.
— An amendment led by Representatives David Valadao (R-CA) and Brad Sherman (D-CA), which requires a report within 180 days of all US humanitarian and developmental assistance programs in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), including an analysis of the effectiveness of such programs and any plans for future assistance. The amendment was cosponsored by Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Andy Levin (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Katie Porter (D-CA), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), David Trone (D-MD), and Susan Wild (D-PA). The text of the amendment is available here.
— An amendment led by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) requiring a report by the Secretary of State on the activities of Turkey’s Grey Wolves organization undertaken against U.S. interests, allies, and international partners, including a review of the criteria met for designation as a foreign terrorist organization. The amendment had the support of a coalition of organizations including the Hellenic American Leadership Council, In Defense of Christians, American Friends of Kurdistan, Middle East Forum, as well as the ANCA. It was co-sponsored by Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). The text of the amendment is available here.
— An amendment by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) modifying the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to authorize sanctions for serious human rights abuse, any violation of internationally recognized human rights, or corruption. The amendment was co-sponsored by Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Dina Titus (D-NV), Norma Torres (D-CA), and Peter Welch (D-VT). The amendment text is available here.