A broad-bipartisan coalition of U.S. Representatives introduced Anti-Blockade legislation Wednesday, spearheaded by the Congressional Armenian Caucus, increasing U.S. pressure on Azerbaijan to end its two-month long blockade of 120,000 Armenians in their indigenous Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) homeland, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In a letter to Congressional colleagues encouraging support for the anti-blockade resolution, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), founding Co-Chair of the Armenian Caucus, explained: “The Aliyev regime is taking premediated steps to remove the indigenous Armenian population from Artsakh and deprive them of the opportunity to live freely, democratically, and with dignity in the land of their ancestors – a clear sign of ethnic cleansing that we cannot ignore.” Rep. Pallone asserted, “The United States must act immediately and use every diplomatic tool available to reopen the corridor before this humanitarian crisis becomes catastrophic.”
Joining Representatives Pallone and Brad Sherman (D-CA) as early supporters of the anti-blockade resolution are Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-chairs Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and David Valadao (R-CA), and over 60 U.S. Representatives
The Anti-Blockade resolution lead co-sponsors were outspoken on the need to hold Azerbaijan accountable.
“The United States must act. That’s why my Armenia Caucus colleagues and I have introduced a resolution that will put Congress on the record as unequivocally condemning this deadly blockade,” said Rep. Sherman. “Let’s be clear about what this is – an attempt by Azerbaijan to force Artsakh’s ethnic Armenian population out of their homes by making life in Artsakh impossible. The tactic is blockade. The effect is civilian deprivation. The object is ethnic cleansing.”
In addition to forcefully condemning Azerbaijan’s actions, the resolution would place the U.S. House of Representatives on record in favor of five practical remedies to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Artsakh caused by Azerbaijan’s blockade of food, medicine, and other vital necessities:
1) U.S. leadership in rallying the global community to petition international and multinational courts to investigate Azerbaijani war crimes.
2) U.S. cooperation with international partners, including Artsakh authorities, in securing the deployment of international observers to the Lachin Corridor.
3) Presidential action to immediately suspend any U.S. military or security assistance to Azerbaijan, and to enforce Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act
4) Presidential enforcement of statutory sanctions authority against Azerbaijani officials responsible for the blockade of Artsakh and other human rights violations
5) A robust program of sustained U.S. humanitarian relief and longer-term development assistance to the Armenian victims of Azerbaijani aggression in Artsakh.