The ANCA released the following Action Alert on Aug. 31, after reports that Safarov has been extradited and received a hero’s welcome in Baku.
Tell Hungary’s ambassador that you are profoundly troubled by their immoral and ill-advised decision to extradite (release) Ramil Safarov, the unrepentant axe-murderer who killed Armenian lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan, in his sleep, during a 2004 NATO training exercise. (Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev immediately pardoned and freed Safarov upon his arrival in Baku.)
Call, email, or post your thoughts (firmly, but politely), explaining that this grave injustice compromises Hungary’s international standing, emboldens Azerbaijani leaders to be even more aggressive, and undermines the prospects for a real and lasting Nagorno-Karabagh peace.
Ambassador György Szapáry
Embassy of Hungary
Call: (202) 362-6730
The ANCA wrote to Ambassador Szapáry on Aug. 29, prior to Safarov’s release, urging the government of Hungary not to extradite him, in the interest both of justice and the cause of peace in the Caucasus. (The text of this letter is provided below.)
Earlier on Aug. 31, the ANCA called on President Obama to “publicly criticize Hungary’s extradition of a known and unapologetic terrorist, to openly condemn Baku’s subsequent release of Safarov, and to demand his immediate re-incarceration for the remainder of his life sentence.” The ANCA letter, signed by Chairman Ken Hachikian, stressed that “A lack of a forceful American response to this grave injustice would, in addition to compromising our nation’s moral standing, undermine prospects for peace by emboldening an increasingly heavily armed Azerbaijani government to continue inciting its own citizens to violence and to encourage it to continue making threats and to commit actual acts of aggression.”
ANCA letter to Obama
August 31, 2012
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing, in the spirit of your June 18, 2012 joint statement with the leaders of Russia and France, about the peaceful settlement of Nagorno-Karabagh, to call upon you to condemn Azerbaijan’s release of Ramil Safarov, a lieutenant in the Azerbaijani military who was recent extradited from Hungary, where he was serving a life sentence—with no expression of either regret or remorse—for the pre-meditated axe murder of Armenian lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan, in his sleep, during a NATO Partnership for Peace program.
As expected, Safarov’s return to Baku was welcomed, as was his act of murder, by officials of Ilham Aliyev’s government and much of Azerbaijani society. The Azerbaijani government apparently had committed to Hungary that they would continue his prison term; yet, Aliyev immediately pardoned him.
The facts of this brutal murder are as clear as the imperative for our government, which serves as a mediator of this conflict through the Minsk Group of the OSCE, to publicly criticize Hungary’s extradition of a known and unapologetic terrorist, to openly condemn Baku’s subsequent release of Safarov, and to demand his immediate re-incarceration for the remainder of his life sentence. A lack of a forceful American response to this grave injustice would, in addition to compromising our nation’s moral standing, undermine prospects for peace by emboldening an increasingly heavily armed Azerbaijani government to continue inciting its own citizens to violence, and encouraging it to continue its threats and actual acts of aggression.
I would like to also use this opportunity to, once again, request that you hold a personal meeting with the broad-based leadership of the Armenian-American community. As I have written to you in the past, the absence of direct discussions between you and your Armenian-American constituents, a dialogue you pledged as a candidate to undertake, is unhealthy both for our democracy as well as for our diplomacy.
Kenneth V. Hachikian
ANCA letter to Hungarian ambassador
August 29, 2012
His Excellency György Szapáry
The Ambassador of Hungary to the United States of America
Embassy of Hungary
3910 Shoemaker Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Dear Mr. Ambassador:
I am writing, in the spirit of the longstanding friendship between the Hungarian and Armenian peoples, to share with you our concerns regarding published accounts that the government of Hungary may be considering the extradition to Azerbaijan of Ramil Safarov, a Lieutenant in the Azerbaijani military, who is currently serving a life sentence in your country for the February 2004 premeditated murder of Armenian Lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan, during a NATO Partnership for Peace program.
As you know, Safarov was convicted for murdering Lieutenant Margaryan in his sleep. The brutal violence of Safarov’s cold-blooded, pre-planned axe murder–during which he nearly severed his victim’s head–is matched only by his chilling lack of remorse or repentance for his crime. If he were to be returned to Baku, he would, very likely, be welcomed, as his act of murder was at the time, by government officials, political leaders, and many in Azerbaijani society. Safarov’s extradition, in addition to representing a serious breach of justice in a clear case of homocide, would send a dangerous signal to the Azerbaijani government, emboldening it to continue inciting its own citizens to violence and, more broadly, encouraging it to continue undertaking threats and actual acts of aggression against both Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh.
We are, as you can imagine, hopeful that the accounts that have been published on this matter are unfounded and that consideration is not, in fact, being given to Safarov’s extradition. We would, of course, welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your staff to address our concerns in greater detail, and to discuss any other issues of common concern. Thank you for your kind consideration of our views on this matter.
Aram S. Hamparian
Executive Director, ANCA