Below is an open letter by New Hampshire resident Aram Jeknavorian addressed to his state’s legislature, regarding an anti-Armenian bill, H.R.6, which may be brought before the New Hampshire House of Representatives on Feb. 11.
Dear New Hampshire State Representative,
As a proud citizen of the Granite State, I am writing to alert you that Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan (an oil-rich and corrupt one-family dictatorship), is seeking to secure the endorsement of our citizens for his anti-democratic domestic abuses and increasingly violent attacks upon his Christian Armenian neighbors.
It is my understanding that H.R.6—a misguided and angry anti-Armenian measure—may be brought before the House of Representatives as early as Wed., Feb. 11. New Hampshire, whose proud motto is “Live Free or Die” and which was the first American state to have its own constitution, should not allow itself to be manipulated in this manner by a foreign autocrat. We should be at the forefront of efforts to defend human dignity, and never align ourselves with the enemies of freedom.
Aliyev, the man trying to get New Hampshire’s public backing for his private hatreds inherited his post from his father. The entire country has run by this family for the better part of the past half century. The son of a KGB general, he has become a billionaire on a civil service salary and is often listed as the single most undemocratic leader in the world. His personal wealth and his government’s corruption were both highlighted in this CNBC program: “The Aliyev Family of Azerbaijan.”
Aliyev is perhaps best known around the world for the scandal surrounding his pardon and promotion of a convicted axe-murderer, after this confessed killer happily admitted to hacking to death an Armenian student (while he slept) during a NATO peace program in Hungary. This shameful act was sharply condemned by President Barack Obama. Azerbaijan’s human rights record, among the worst in the world, is documented annually in our State Department’s human rights reports.
It is truly a tribute to New Hampshire’s democratic tradition that even a regime as flagrantly corrupt as Aliyev’s is allowed to operate freely within our open society. But that does not mean that the citizens of our state need to remain silent in the face of meddling by foreign leaders who neither respect our rights nor share our values—especially when they try to export their intolerance to our shores.
It would risk public embarrassment for any state legislature to be perceived, in any manner, as somehow serving the foreign interests of a corrupt dictator. The Washington Post and Politico, among other media outlets, have reported extensively about scandalous charges of Azerbaijani influence over U.S. policymakers—past and present.
Please stop H.R.6 and ensure that a foreign dictator is never allowed to hijack our state legislature.