Rep. Pallone commemorates the 33rd anniversary of Sumgayit pogroms

Congressman Frank chas commemorated the 33rd anniversary of Sumgayit pogroms.

His full statement in the Congressional Record below.

On February 27, 1988, hundreds of Armenian civilians living in the city of Sumgait in Azerbaijan were indiscriminately killed, raped, maimed, and even burned alive because of their ethnicity. Hostile, anti-Armenian rhetoric from Azerbaijani citizens and officials instigated this tragedy.

Similarly, on January 12, 1990, a seven-day pogrom broke out against the Armenian population in Baku during which Armenians were beaten, murdered, and expelled from the city. Over 90 Armenian civilians were killed, over 700 were injured, and countless others were permanently displaced by the ethnic violence that ensued.

For over three decades, Azerbaijan has taken steps to cover up these crimes against humanity and dismiss the atrocities at Sumgait and Baku.

Even more disturbing, the Azeri government lauded the perpetrators of this event and similar violent attacks.

Tragically, the Azerbaijani government’s approach toward Armenians has changed little since the Sumgait and Baku pogroms. We saw similar rhetoric right before Azerbaijan’s attacks on Artsakh last fall. Azeri forces, Turkish drones, and Turkish-backed mercenaries conducted an indiscriminate bombing campaign against large population centers that killed thousands of Armenians and displaced tens of thousands more civilians. It also included appalling war crimes against Armenians at the hands of Azerbaijani forces and foreign mercenaries that included beheadings, torture, and other abhorrent acts of violence.

I continue to stand with the Armenian people in condemning the horrific pogroms and in mourning the loss of those who were senselessly killed in the recent Artsakh attacks. It is critical for the United States to recognize and denounce violent assaults against any civilians. If we do not condemn or punish crimes against humanity and ethnic violence, we become passive bystanders, failing to live up to the lessons of the 20th Century and the rights of all human to live free from violence and persecution based on race, ethnicity, or religion. These lessons are especially important as we prepare to commemorate the 106th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in April.

I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus to honor the victims of the Baku and Sumgait pogroms and the recent victims of Azerbaijani aggressions in Artsakh. I will continue to condemn all acts of violence against people who are targeted simply because of who they are. I hope my colleagues will join me in rejecting violent rhetoric and intimidation. In doing so, we renew our commitment to achieving a lasting peace in the Caucasus.

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