MORE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS COMMEMORATE SUMGAIT, BAKU MASSACRES
Rep. Adam Schiff

asbarez
Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

"Mr. Speaker, just as we cannot allow the first genocide of the
twentieth century to fade into history, the memory of the victims of
Sumgait must not be forgotten either." - Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)

WASHINGTON- In a series of floor speeches over the past two weeks,
Members of Congress have condemned Azerbaijan's aggression against
the Armenian populations in Sumgait (1988) and Baku (1990), reported
the Armenian National Committee of America.

Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and
Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Adam Schiff
(D-CA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) each offered moving remarks printed
in the U.S. Congressional Record, condemning the brutal attack on
Armenians by Azerbaijani forces and organized mobs in Sumgait from
February 27-29, 1988, and also in Baku in 1990.

"The 3-day massacre in the winter of 1988," explained Rep. Schiff,
"resulted in the deaths of scores of Armenians, many of whom were
burnt to death after being brutally beaten and tortured. Hundreds
of others were wounded. Women and girls were brutally raped. The
carnage created thousands of ethnic Armenian refugees, who had to
leave everything behind to be looted or destroyed, including their
homes, cars and businesses."

Rep. Jackie Speier Citing gruesome testimony by survivors describing
the Azerbaijani pogroms, Rep. Speier noted: "'Tenants were dragged
from their apartments. If they tried to run and escape, the mob
attacked them.

The mob used metal rods, knives and hatchets, after which bodies
were thrown into the fire.' But shockingly most of the Azeris who
committed these horrific acts and their accomplices in government
were not brought to justice."

Rep. Pallone explained that "The Sumgait massacre is but one example
in a long line of Azerbaijan's aggression and hostility against the
Armenian people. Just two years later, the disappearance of a 450,000
strong Armenian community in Azerbaijan was witnessed. While Azerbaijan
claims that events in Baku were about the liberation of Azerbaijani
people from the Soviet occupation, the truth is that Mikhail Gorbachev
had to send Soviet troops to the Azerbaijani capital to stop the mass
killings and deportations of Armenians organized by the Government
of Azerbaijan."

Rep. Jim Costa Rep. Costa spotlighted the U.S. response to the
Sumgait massacres, stating "Within months of the Sumgait massacres,
the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Amendment 2690 to the FY 1989
Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (H.R. 4782) in July 1988,
concerning the Karabakh conflict and calling on the Soviet government
to 'respect the legitimate aspirations of the Armenian people.' The
amendment also noted that 'dozens of Armenians have been killed and
hundreds injured during the recent unrests.'"

Rep. Eshoo detailed the very personal connection she has to
Azerbaijan's ethnic cleansing campaign, stating, "My own family members
fled the slaughter of the Armenian Genocide under the Ottomans, and
when we learned of the massacres against Armenians in 1988, we saw
history repeating itself. These vicious acts of murder, targeted at
ethnic groups, must be forcefully condemned whenever and wherever
we see them. Yet 96 years after the slaughter, Congress has yet to
officially recognize the Armenian Genocide. Without our recognition
and our forceful condemnation, the cycle of violence will continue."

Earlier this week Members of the U.S. House joined with Nagorno
Karabakh Republic Foreign Minister Georgi Petrossian in commemorating
the Sumgait and Baku pogroms at a Capitol Hill observance of these
crimes. Petrossian explained that, "On February 20, 1988, the people
of Karabakh expressed their will, and utilizing the relevant legal
framework, petitioned the Soviet authorities of the time to resolve
the Karabakh issue. The events in Sumgait took place exactly eight
days later. To this day, Azerbaijan argues that Sumgait and Baku were
a chapter in their struggle for independence from the Soviet Union and
that Armenians were somehow hindering that effort. The Bible says that
there is no secret which can be hidden permanently, and God willing,
the truth and the perpetrators of these heinous crimes will one day
be brought to light and justice."

The Foreign Minister went on to note that the Sumgait massacres were
the beginnings of broad ethnic cleansing efforts in Azerbaijan that
the Azerbaijani government intended to extend to Karabakh as well.

"Every person, every nation, has the right to live free; every person,
every nation has the right to defend itself," noted Petrossian. "The
people of Karabakh asserted that right - that God-given right -
and will never give it up." Representatives Pallone, Eshoo, Elliot
Engel (D-NY) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) were among Congressional leaders
participating in this solemn commemoration.

The 23rd Anniversary of the Sumgait massacres and the ensuing
Azerbaijani onslaught against the Armenians throughout Azerbaijan,
including the Baku pogroms of 1990, were marked worldwide with protests
and observances held in Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France,
Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Lebanon, Russia, Syria and the United
States, in addition to Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh.

To learn more about the Azerbaijani pogroms against Armenians in
Sumgait and Baku, read the ANCA fact sheet.




From: A. Papazian