U.S. congressmen introduced a resolution condemning the blockade of Artsakh and calling on President Joe Biden to immediately suspend U.S. military and security assistance to Azerbaijan, the Armenian Assembly of America reported.
The resolution is co-sponsored by Frank Pallone Jr., David Valadao, Gus Bilirakis, Adam Schiff and Brad Sherman.
The bipartisan resolution, which begins circulating today for original co-sponsors, states that "Azerbaijani forces [are] in violation of international obligations to resolve disputes with Armenia and Artsakh peacefully," following their large-scale, unprovoked invasion of Artsakh in 2020.
It is noted that "President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan has used vitriolic rhetoric to call for the ethnic cleansing of indigenous Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and his regime has consistently violated important international humanitarian legal agreements during the 2020 war and up until the present date, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Charter, and the Geneva Convention."
The resolution stresses that the ceasefire statement signed by Azerbaijan on 9 November 2020, "clearly states in Article 6 that, 'The Lachin Corridor (5 km wide), which will provide a connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia while not passing through the territory of Shusha, shall remain under the control of the Russian Federation peacemaking forces…The Republic of Azerbaijan shall guarantee the security of persons, vehicles and cargo moving along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.'"
Despite the Article, on December 12, 2022, "Azerbaijan created a man-made humanitarian crisis by implementing an extended blockade of the Lachin Corridor under the guise of a civilian protest" which has resulted in "dangerous, escalatory steps."
The closure of the Lachin Corridor, which serves as a vital route connecting the Republic of Artsakh to the Republic of Armenia, has prevented the delivery of food, critical medicines and other basic necessities to 120,000 people and "severely worsened the quality of life for the people living in Artsakh, including 30,000 children, 20,000 elderly individuals, and 9,000 people with disabilities, including the sabotage of civilian infrastructures such as a critical natural gas pipeline, power transmission lines, and fixed-line internet."
The U.S. Department of State has time and again warned that the "closure of the Lachin Corridor has severe humanitarian implications and sets back the peace process," and publicly called "on the government of Azerbaijan to restore free movement through the corridor."
In addition to condemning the blockade of the Lachin corridor, calling for an immediate end to U.S. aid to Azerbaijan and humanitarian assistance, the resolution also calls on the United States and the international community to petition the International Court of Justice, European Court of Human Rights, or other appropriate international tribunals and "to take appropriate steps to investigate any and all war crimes committed by the Azerbaijani forces," while also calling on the U.S. to deploy international observers to the Lachin Corridor and Artsakh "to explore opportunities for more effective and sustainable guarantees of security and peaceful development," as well as "support U.S. sanctions under existing statutory authority against Azerbaijani officials responsible for the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh and other well-documented human rights violations committed against Armenians in the region."
"We urge the U.S. and the international community to stop Azerbaijan's attempts at ethnically cleansing the Armenian people and destabilizing the South Caucasus region for its own gain," said Mariam Khaloyan, Assembly Congressional Relations Director director of congressional relations.