Recognizing the People of Nagorno Karabakh and the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Sumgait Pogromsby Representative Jim Costa
Posted on 2013-03-12
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Mr. COSTA. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to recognize the twenty-fifth
anniversary of the pogroms against people of Armenian descent in
Sumgait, Azerbaijan. This ungodly massacre in 1988 resulted in the
murder of scores of Armenians. Tragically, women and girls were
viciously raped and hundreds of Armenians were wounded. The chaos led
to thousands of Armenian refugees who were left without homes or
livelihoods. It was from the ashes of these terrible fires that arose
the Nagorno Karabakh democracy movement that has, after many terrible
years of Azerbaijani war, blockades, and aggression, resulted in hard-
won freedom and democracy for the proud citizens of this ancient
As we recognize this tragedy, it is also proper that we celebrate the courage of the people of Nagorno Karabaldi as the first to rise up against the Soviet Union and to demand their right to freedom and self- governance. We celebrate the self-determination of the people of Nagorno Karabakh, their declaration of independence more than two decades ago, and their role in ending the Soviet threat to America. We should never forget the brave efforts of this small nation in sparking the democracy movement that ended decades of dictatorial rule in the USSR and eventually led to the fall of the Soviet Union.
Sadly, over the past quarter century, the Azerbaijani government has attacked the people of Karabakh with a clenched fist. Azerbaijan has consistently obstructed the peace process, walking away from its own agreements, and instead sought to incite hatred within its own population with anti-Armenian rhetoric and regular cross border attacks and threats of renewed war. Perhaps the most telling example was the President of Azerbaijan's decision to pardon, praise, and even promote Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani soldier who was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of unarmed Armenian Army officer Gurgen Margaryan in Budapest in 2004.
Today, I ask my colleagues to stand with the proud people of Nagorno Karabakh because our two peoples share so many of the same foundational ideals including a commitment to the values of freedom, human rights, self-determination, and democracy.