WASHINGTON, DC — Pro-Artsakh advocates from throughout the eastern United States joined in the ANCA Fly-In for #NKPeace last week – sharing a message of Karabakh freedom with over 80 Congressional offices on Capitol Hill. The meetings culminated on December 9th with the annual Capitol Hill celebration of Nagorno Karabakh Republic’s commitment to peace and stability, where the Congressional Armenian Caucus and community members welcomed Artsakh Republic Foreign Minister, H.E. Karen Mirzoyan.
Many Armenian-Americans who survived the 1988-91 Azerbaijani pogroms in Baku, Sumgait, Kirovabad were among the participants of the two-day fly-in event, where they had a chance to visit the Capitol Hill to share their personal stories of anti-Armenian aggression and xenophobia in meetings with US Representatives and Senators from New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Maryland, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and other eastern states.
Key areas of discussion in Congressional meetings included the need to stop escalating violence and war rhetoric by the Aliyev regime against the peaceful population of Artsakh Republic; support for the independent and democratic Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR); raise awareness about the anti-Armenian discrimination in Soviet-Azerbaijan which peaked in pogroms in Sumgait (February, 1988) and Baku (January, 1990).
In her meeting with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) Larisa Manuk, a refugee from Baku currently residing in Manhattan said, “I am here to raise my voice for independent Nagorno Karabakh Republic free of Azerbaijani aggression that we were once subjected in the early 1990s and were saved by finding refuge in the United States for which we are thankful to the US government. I joined ANCA’s appeal simply because I could not remain indifferent to what is going on in the region, when every day innocent civilians and young soldiers alike are killed because of Azerbaijani aggression.”
Abie Alexander from Greenbelt, Maryland was among the non-Armenian community advocates on Capitol Hill. “While meeting with the offices of my federal representatives I raised my support for the right of the people of NKR to live in peace. Every human being has the right to enjoy the blessings of freedom that we do in United States. Artsakh should not be an exception, especially when it has been steadily developing its democratic institutions and seeking deeper relations with its partners in the West, unlike the increasingly authoritarian regime in Azerbaijan,” said Indian-American writer.
Speaking of the current ongoing crisis in the Middle East, another refugee from Baku Michael Abagyan said in his Congressional meeting, “We have been long silent after Azerbaijan destroyed the medieval Armenian cemetery and thousands of cross stones in Djulfa a decade ago. There is no way that Artsakh Republic can ever be subjected to the brutal and discriminatory regime in Baku. We should rather focus our attention to greater engagement with Stepanakert and aiding this young democracy in the South Caucasus, which is committed to peace and stability.” Mr. Abagyan further added, “I am thankful to my US Representative, Congressman Daniel Donovan, for co-signing the Royce-Engel letter to the Ambassador Warlick, which aims to stabilize the situation in the region.”
“Many of over half a million Armenians deported from Azerbaijan-administered Soviet cities found their final refuge in the United States. For many of the survivors, it took over two decades to overcome the trauma of the pogroms and to publicly speak out about the targeted anti-Armenian attacks they witnessed in their home towns,” said Artur Martirosyan, ANCA-ER Community Outreach and Communications Director. “We wanted to bring the survivors to Washington, DC and have American lawmakers hear their stories first-hand. It is important to share the personal accounts of these horrific events to spotlight the tragic human cost and to prevent another Azerbaijan incited war in the region.”
Earlier this year, in February, the ANCA marked the 25th anniversary of the anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku with a Capitol Hill commemoration and meetings, coverage of which is available here: https://anca.org/press-release/anca-leads-pro-karabakh-campaign-on-capitol-hill/
The December 9th Capitol Hill celebration of Karabakh freedom and stability took place through the leadership of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, Office of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in the US, and Armenian American organizations, including the Armenian National Committee of America and the Armenian Assembly of America.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Robert Dold (R-IL) were joined by House Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jim Costa (D-CA), and Dina Titus (D-NV), at the observance, with featured keynote remarks by Republic of Nagorno Karabakh Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan and Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Tigran Sargsyan. His Eminence Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Eastern US, offered the invocation and convocation at the event.