Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., has sent a letter to the Biden White House imploring it to speak out against genocide against Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and clarify that the U.S. will not “compromise” with Azerbaijan in the conflict Fox News reports.
“In light of the compelling and urgent testimony provided, I respectfully urge you to immediately clarify that the United States does not tolerate, facilitate, or participate, in negotiations over genocide, and to publicly inform Azerbaijan that unless it immediately lifts its blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh, the U.S. will take action through the United Nations to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court for investigation and prosecution,” Smith wrote to President Biden.
The testimony Smith referenced was from Luis Moreno Ocampo, former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who testified in front of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, which Smith co-chairs, on Thursday.
Ocampo told the commission “there is a reasonable basis to believe that Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin Corridor constitutes genocide” and that Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, “voluntarily, knowingly, and willingly created conditions calculated to destroy 120,000 Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
In his letter, Smith expressed concern that Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently said there is a “need for a dialogue and compromise and the importance of building confidence between the parties.”
“Mr. President, there is little doubt that this humanitarian crisis was planned, tested, and imposed by President Ilham Aliyev, who rules Azerbaijan as a dictator. His record of human rights abuses is decades in the making as I met with him in Baku in 2013 and 2014 arguing then about both his mistreatment and jailing of Azerbaijani human rights activists and abusive treatment of Armenian Christians,” Smith wrote.
He continued, “Thus by encouraging ‘compromise,’ the Secretary appears to facilitate Azerbaijan’s use of genocide as a negotiating tactic. Negotiation may be needed to solve the differences between Azerbaijan and the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, but genocide is an abuse impossible to ignore.”
“The Biden Administration must wake up, recognize the absolutely grave responsibility it has here, and focus on finding and implementing a humane solution,” Smith said. “And this must mean that the blockade is lifted and the people continue to live in their ancient homeland — and not be subject to violence and threats. This situation is now a three-alarm fire.”