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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman TJ Cox (CA-21)

Today, Rep. TJ Cox led a letter with Reps. Brad Sherman, Jim Costa, and Katherine Clark and 47 other Members of Congress to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling for strong sanctions against the President and military leaders of Azerbaijan for human rights violations taking place in Artsakh. 

Beginning September 27th, the Azerbaijani military has committed a series of escalating shelling and drone attacks that have decimated the city of Stepanakert and the surrounding area, forcing civilians to take cover in bomb shelters and basements to survive the endless barrage. This has continued even after a ceasefire agreement was reached on October 10th that was immediately broken by Azerbaijani forces. Since then, reports of cluster munitions being used on civilians resulting in several hundred casualties and the destruction of important cultural sites have come out of the region, reports that can’t be ignored by the United States.  

“This administration needs to act with urgency to bring an end to the perpetual aggression from Azerbaijan towards the Armenian communities of Artsakh. Implementing Global Magnitsky sanctions on Azerbaijani officials is long overdue,” said Rep. Cox. “Not only is this inaction costing hundreds of lives, but it also allows these injustices to be repeated elsewhere and incites the possibility of additional conflicts involving Turkey and Russia.”   

“Four weeks on, and the Azeri offensive against Artsakh, continues. International human rights organizations have confirmed Azerbaijan’s use of cluster munitions, in clear violation of international law,” said Congressman Brad Sherman. “Azeri officials must be held responsible for their part in the ongoing human rights abuses taking place in Artsakh. The implementation of sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act will send a firm response from the United States that this offensive, and specifically the targeting of civilians, is unacceptable. We cannot risk the fighting in the region devolving into a full-blown proxy war involving Turkey and Russia. Azeri officials must be held to account.” 

“It’s important that the U.S. stand against human rights violations,” said Rep. Jim Costa. “Azerbaijan must be held accountable for its aggressive actions against the Armenian people. Implementing sanctions on key officials is an important first step in showing there are consequences to these gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights. I will continue to stand up for the Armenian people.” 

“Multiple human rights abuses have been reported following Azerbaijan’s unprovoked attacks on Armenians in Artsakh,” said Congresswoman Clark. “Civilians have been killed, hospitals and churches have been bombed, and thousands have been displaced. Those who are responsible for these atrocities must be held accountable if we are to prevent further bloodshed. The Trump administration must immediately respond with a clear and consequential condemnation of Azerbaijan.”

In the letter, the Members wrote; 

“Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov, Chief of the General Staff Sadikov Najmeddin Huseynoglu, Deputy Minister of Defense (Army) Mustafayev Kerem Narimanoglu, and Deputy Minister of Defense (Air Force) Tairov Ramiz Firudinoglu must be held accountable for their part in the ongoing human rights abuses taking place in Artsakh. Without a doubt, many of these individuals are responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. Thus, we call on the Trump Administration to impose significant, tangible consequences on the individuals responsible for Azerbaijan’s continuous campaign of aggression against civilians in Artsakh.”  

Read the full letter text here.