Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who has recently chaired two congressional hearings on the plight of Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh and authored the Azerbaijan Democracy Act in 2015, issued the following statement on the unclear and threatening situation in the region:
“Now more than ever, President Biden must immediately push the United Nations Security Council to establish a mandate and peacekeeping mission to protect the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The people of Nagorno-Karabakh are in a moment of grave danger. They have been forced to disarm and surrender their independence to a ruthless dictator whose government has repeatedly committed horrific abuses against them over many years, expressed its will to ethnically cleanse them, and even initiated a genocide by starvation with the blockade of the Lachin Corridor.
Tragically, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has called the Biden Administration’s bluff that it ‘will not tolerate’ an attack.
At an emergency hearing I chaired on September 6th, David Phillips—the Director of Columbia University’s Artsakh Atrocities Project—provided extensive evidence of the Azerbaijani government’s record of atrocities, including a list of perpetrators who are responsible.
I urge President Biden to immediately dispatch diplomats and expert observers in the Nagorno-Karabakh region to monitor the situation and immediately report any atrocity or abuse. The Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh have, as ever, every right to continue to live in their ancient homeland—and to do so in safety.”