Asbarez – Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D) offered an overview of her recent trip to the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and discussed the imperative of U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide in a public forum hosted by the Armenian National Committee of America – San Francisco (ANCA-SF) on October 9th.
“Through all the visits and meetings, really the strength and resilience of the Armenian people came through loud and clear,” stated Rep. Gabbard, who had joined Bay Area U.S. House Members of Armenian descent Jackie Speier (D) and Anna Eshoo (D), as well as Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ), David Valadeo (R-CA) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) on the trip, which coincided with September 21st Armenia Independence Day celebrations. The Congressional Delegation visited with elected officials, leaders of civil society and industry throughout their stay, exploring opportunities to expand the U.S.-Armenia political and economic relationship.
Commenting on her visit to an Artsakh vocational school in Shushi and subsequent meetings with elected officials and parliamentarians in Stepanakert, Rep. Gabbard noted: “It was great to see everywhere that we went, how focused people are — and they literally are … it’s not a figure of speech to say that — on building a bright future. Literally, that is what is happening, with their hands, and with their feet, and with their hearts.” Rep. Gabbard decried Azerbaijan’s destabilizing role in the region, noting that Aliyev’s “continuous acts of aggression along the border have undermined the whole [peace] process and all the work that has gone in for decades to be able to try to reach this agreement.” She noted that in 2016, Hawaii became one of several U.S. states to have recognized Artsakh independence.
During her remarks, Rep. Gabbard shared her discussions with Armenia’s leaders regarding the modern-day imperative of U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, explaining, “it is not about recognizing something in the past just for show. This has a very real impact on what is happening in the region and the world today and unless this is recognized and condemned, we will continue to see history repeat itself.”
Rep. Gabbard discussed the need for a reassessment of the U.S.-Turkey relationship “given all that is happening under Erdogan’s leadership – that is, both directly and indirectly supporting terrorist groups in Syria and other places, and how Turkey’s objectives in the region are very often counterproductive for our objectives – for the United States – for the safety and security of our people, in our efforts to defeat these terrorist groups that continue to threaten us.”
Asked about the May 2017, beating of Washington, DC protesters by Turkey’s President Reycip Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail, Rep. Gabbard stated, “the response from the Administration and State Department was too late and too weak and the tough recourse and action that should have been taken, frankly hasn’t”.
Rep. Gabbard was introduced by ANCA Western Region Legislative Consultant and ANCA San Francisco Board Member Haig Baghdassarian. Baghdassarian thanked the Congresswoman for her participation in the Congressional Delegation, as well as her support for H.Res 220 (Genocide Prevention Resolution) and the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues. The ANCA SF Chapter presented Rep. Gabbard with a gift of a photo of the Armenian-American float at the San Francisco 4th of July parade in 1918.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was elected to serve Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional district in 2012. She is one of the first two female combat veterans to ever serve in the U.S. Congress, and its first Hindu member. Now in her third term in Congress, Gabbard serves on both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.