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Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to host hearing on human rights violations perpetrated by Azerbaijan

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission will host a hearing on alleged human rights violations perpetrated by the government of Azerbaijan against ethnic Armenians since the fall of Nagorno-Karabakh and ethnic Azerbaijanis who oppose the government. 

The Commission notes that the government of Azerbaijan has a notoriously poor human rights record. According to Freedom House, “Power in Azerbaijan’s authoritarian regime remains heavily concentrated in the hands of Ilham Aliyev, who has served as president since 2003, and his extended family. Corruption is rampant, and the formal political opposition has been weakened by years of persecution. The authorities have carried out an extensive crackdown on civil liberties in recent years…”

Since the government conducted a military operation to gain full control over Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023, the situation for ethnic Armenians has changed dramatically. By the end of 2023 virtually all of them fled to Armenia. The hearing will examine this apparent ethnic cleansing and a number of related issues, including the situation of prisoners of war and political prisoners, the status of Armenian cultural sites in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the right of return of ethnic Armenians to Nagorno-Karabakh. 

The hearing will also examine the government’s treatment of members of the ethnic Azerbaijani majority who have been victims of domestic and transnational repression due to their opposition to the government and its policies, and the relation between corruption and human rights abuses. Witnesses will offer recommendations for Congress.

The hearing will be hosted by Members of Congress Chris Smith and James P. McGovern.

Witnesses:

  • Gegham Stepanyan, Former Human Rights Defender, Republic of Artsakh
  • Karnig Kerkonian, International lawyer, and member, Committee on the Protection of the Fundamental Rights of the Artsakh People
  • Kate Watters, Co-founder and Executive Director, Crude Accountability
  • Emin Bayramli, Son of Azerbaijani political prisoner Gubad Ibadoghlu

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