February 29, 2012 - 15:38 AMT

PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) addressed
the House on occasion of the 24th anniversary of Azerbaijani pogroms
against the Armenian population in Sumgait.

"I rise today to commemorate the scores of Armenian lives lost in the
vicious attacks perpetrated by Azerbaijani pogroms against Armenian
civilians in the town of Sumgait, Azerbaijan 24 years ago," Rep.
Schiff said.

"Beginning on February 27, 1988 and for three days, Azerbaijani mobs
assaulted and killed Armenians. Hundreds of Armenians were wounded,
women and young girls were brutally raped, and victims of all ages
were beaten and tortured and eventually burned to death. Thousands
were driven from their homes and forced to become refugees. Armenian
homes and businesses were left to be looted and destroyed."

He went on to say: "In the years that followed this heinous event,
Armenians living in Kirovabad and Baku suffered a similar fate. These
pogroms were only part of a pattern of anti-Armenian activities
occurring throughout Azerbaijan setting the stage for two decades
of aggression during which the Azerbaijani government initiated a
war against the people of Nagorno Karabakh Thousands of people lost
their lives and hundreds of thousands of Armenians were displaced
as a result of the fighting. A once thriving population of 450,000
Armenians living in Azerbaijan virtually disappeared."

"A cease-fire agreement, brokered in 1994, remains in place today.

However, Azerbaijan's continued war-mongering, recent cease-fire
violations, and dramatic increase of its military budget threaten
to destabilize the Nagorno Karabakh peace talks. In January 2008,
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev warned Armenians living in Nagorno
Karabakh "We are reinforcing our army because we must be ready to
free our lands . . . at any moment and by any means." Such rhetoric
is detrimental to the peace process and is further evidence that
this conflict is ongoing and must be resolved. It is my sincerest
hope that a democratic and peaceful resolution can be reached, and
Nagorno Karabakh's right to self-determination affirmed," he reminded.

"This April will mark the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide,
an event the Turkish government, Azerbaijan s closest ally, goes to
great and tragic lengths to deny. We must not let such crimes against
humanity go unrecognized. Today, let us pause to remember the victims
of the atrocities of the Sumgait pogroms. Mr. Speaker, it is our moral
obligation to condemn crimes of hatred and to remember the victims,
in hope that history will not be repeated," Rep. Schiff said.