U.S. legislators launch resolution aimed at breaking Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh

A broad-bipartisan coalition of U.S. Representatives introduced Anti-Blockade legislation today, spearheaded by the Congressional Armenian Caucus, backed by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), and supported by a wide array of American civil society coalition partners, increasing U.S. pressure on Azerbaijan to end its two-month long blockade of 120,000 Armenians in their indigenous Artsakh homeland.

“The strong bipartisan backing for the Anti-Blockade resolution reflects and powerfully reinforces the American consensus around both holding Azerbaijan accountable for its genocidal winter blockade, and also helping the Armenians of Artsakh survive and thrive in freedom and security,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “Armenians and allied Americans can voice support for this measure by visiting anca.org/resolution.

In a letter to Congressional colleagues encouraging support for the anti-blockade resolution, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), founding Co-Chair of the Armenian Caucus, explained: “The Aliyev regime is taking premeditated steps to remove the indigenous Armenian population from Artsakh and deprive them of the opportunity to live freely, democratically, and with dignity in the land of their ancestors – a clear sign of ethnic cleansing that we cannot ignore.” Rep. Pallone asserted, “The United States must act immediately and use every diplomatic tool available to reopen the corridor before this humanitarian crisis becomes catastrophic.”

Joining Representatives Pallone and Brad Sherman (D-CA) as early supporters of the anti-blockade resolution are Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-chairs Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and David Valadao (R-CA) and over 60 U.S. Representatives including: Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Nikki Budzinski (D-IL), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Jim Costa (D-CA), Danny Davis (D-IL), Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Jared Golden (D-ME), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA), Tom Kean (R-NJ), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Greg Landsman (D-OH), John Larson (D-CT), Mike Lawler (R-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Susie Lee (D-NV), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Seth Magaziner (D-RI), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Betty McCollum (D-MN), James McGovern (D-MA), Rob Menendez (D-NJ), Grace Meng (D-NY), Kevin Mullin (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Katie Porter (D-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Norma Torres (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA), David Trone (D-MD), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Susan Wild (D-PA).

The Anti-Blockade resolution lead co-sponsors were outspoken on the need to hold Azerbaijan accountable.

“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,” said Rep. Pallone. “We stand united in telling Azerbaijan to end this intentional humanitarian crisis.”

“The coordinated efforts by the Azerbaijani government to block essential goods and services such as food, medical supplies, and transportation in and out of the Republic of Artsakh is unconscionable. We need to hold Azerbaijan accountable for their role in this humanitarian crisis,” said Rep. Bilirakis.  

“The humanitarian crisis in Artsakh caused by the blockage of the Lachin Corridor grows more dire by the day, and the United States must take decisive action to help the tens of thousands of people cut off from their families, loved ones, and livelihoods,” said Rep. Schiff. “This bipartisan condemnation of Baku must be just the beginning — and signal the end of assistance to Azerbaijan. I will always stand with the people of Armenia and Artsakh and call on the President of the United States to use all diplomatic tools at our disposal to ensure the safety of the people of Artsakh amid the growing crisis in the region.”

“The United States must act. That’s why my Armenia Caucus colleagues and I have introduced a resolution that will put Congress on the record as unequivocally condemning this deadly blockade,” said Rep. Sherman. “Let’s be clear about what this is – an attempt by Azerbaijan to force Artsakh’s ethnic Armenian population out of their homes by making life in Artsakh impossible. The tactic is blockade. The effect is civilian deprivation. The object is ethnic cleansing.”

“The aggression from Azerbaijan towards the Armenian people in Artsakh is unacceptable. Not only are these actions in direct violation of international agreements, but they are preventing deliveries of food, medicine, and other basic necessities – a blatant violation of human rights,” said Rep. Valadao. “I am proud to cosponsor this critical resolution which strongly condemns the Azeri government’s appalling actions and calls on the United States to use every diplomatic tool at our disposal to end this dangerous blockade.” 

Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), who is working with colleagues to lead similar efforts in the Senate, stated, “Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin Corridor—the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) to Armenia—is inhumane and unacceptable,” said Senator Padilla. “This blockade has created a humanitarian crisis, rendering the 120,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh without access to food, water, medicine, and other basic necessities. Our resolution would make it clear that the United States must take action to hold Azerbaijan accountable.”

Last week, hundreds of ANCA Eastern Region activists converged on Capitol Hill urging U.S. House members to cosponsor the Anti-Blockade resolution, and support the pending Senate measure. Pro-Artsakh advocates are continuing their outreach through letters, calls, and tweets from the ANCA action portal – anca.org/resolution – to encourage broad-based support for the effort.

In addition to forcefully condemning Azerbaijan’s actions, the resolution would place the U.S. House of Representatives 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) U.S. leadership in rallying the global community to petition international and multinational courts to investigate Azerbaijani war crimes.

2) U.S. cooperation with international partners, including Artsakh authorities, in securing the deployment of international observers to the Lachin Corridor.

3) Presidential action to immediately suspend any U.S. military or security assistance to Azerbaijan, and to enforce Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act

4) Presidential enforcement of statutory sanctions authority against Azerbaijani officials responsible for the blockade of Artsakh and other human rights violations

5) A robust program of sustained U.S. humanitarian relief and longer-term development assistance to the Armenian victims of Azerbaijani aggression in Artsakh and the Congressional Armenian Caucus leadership are spearheading a bi-partisan resolution to break the brutal blockade that oil-rich Azerbaijan put in place on December 11th against the 120,000 Christian Armenians living in their indigenous Artsakh homeland.

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