CONCORD, N.H.—The pro-Azerbaijan lobby suffered yet another political setback on Feb. 11, as the New Hampshire House of Representatives blocked passage of HR 6, a deeply flawed measure that sought to undermine Nagorno-Karabagh’s freedom and cover-up ongoing anti-Armenian aggression by President Ilham Aliyev’s dictatorial regime, reported the Armenian National Committee of America – Eastern Region (ANCA-ER).
“The New Hampshire House of Representatives lived up to its ‘Live Free or Die’ motto today, refusing to succumb to President Aliyev’s international campaign to subvert Artsakh’s right to self-determination,” stated ANCA-ER Board Chairman Stephen Mesrobian. “We are pleased that New Hampshire joins Colorado, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, Hawaii, and Wyoming in refusing to aid and abet Azerbaijan’s thuggish regime.”
The ANCA-ER worked closely with the ANC of Merrimack Valley and the New Hampshire Armenian community to educate legislators about the dangers of this flawed resolution. Local activists, with the support of Armenian Americans across the U.S., called and emailed legislators, pointing out Azerbaijan’s increasing aggression against Armenia and Artsakh and recent anti-U.S. actions, including Aliyev’s crackdown on the U.S. funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and pro-democracy civil society groups. The Aliyev regime’s repression of free speech has been widely covered in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and broadly condemned by human rights groups.
“The democratic principles and values of the Granite State prevailed today. We appreciate that our elected representatives heard our concerns loud and clear,” stated ANC Merrimack Valley Co-Chair Ara Jeknavorian. “We are grateful to all our local activists who immediately took action, enabling us to collectively stop this measure. The mobilization capacity of our community is inspirational, and a testament to our commitment to justice and freedom.”
Just two days prior to the vote, the ANC Merrimack Valley penned a powerful open letter, published in The Armenian Weekly, urging legislators to tread with caution when considering the pro-Aliyev measure. “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,” the letter read. “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.”
Concerns about the HR 6 became clear early in the Committee consideration process, when the Legislative Affairs Committee voted 8-0 to urge the House to kill the measure. When efforts were discovered to undermine that recommendation, New Hampshire Representative Gary Azarian reached out to fellow legislators, describing Azerbaijan’s historic massacres against Armenians in 1918 and again during the Sumgait, Baku, and Kirovabad pogroms from 1988-1990. The measure was then pulled from the calendar and later blocked by an overwhelming majority.
“It is unfortunate that the Azeri regime keeps trying to mislead legislatures across the United States via manipulation, misinformation and instigation of hatred towards Armenians,” said Robert Avetisyan, permanent representative of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic to the U.S. “We constantly see Baku’s efforts to rewrite history and avoid responsibility for its aggression against Artsakh, as well as for crimes against its own population. We are grateful to the ANCA ER team and all New Hampshire Armenians for prompt and coordinated efforts to inform members of the N.H. State legislature of the historical facts”.
ANCA-ER is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Eastern United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Eastern United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-ER advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.