Unanimous Vote for NKR Freedom on Eve of Aliyev’s trip to DC
HONOLULU, Hawaii—Hawaii became the seventh state to rally in support of the democratic development and right to self-determination for the people of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh) on March 29, voting unanimously to recognize the NKR, reported the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region (ANCA-WR).
The Hawaii House of Representatives passed H.R. 167 in the face of enormous pressure from the Azerbaijani Embassy to quash the measure. The key vote took place just 24 hours before Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Washington, D.C., where he joins President Barack Obama and other world leaders in a nuclear summit.
The historic vote specifically voiced encouragement for Artsakh’s continuing efforts to develop as a free and independent nation, and formally called on the international community to recognize the NKR as a free, independent, and sovereign democracy.
“Today the people of Hawaii stood on the side of freedom and independence for the people of Artsakh—standing strong against powerful lobbying interests seeking to undermine fundamental American and Armenian principles of democracy and self-determination. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to Representatives Angus McKelvey and John Mizuno for leading this effort and the entire House of Representatives for taking such a strong stance along with our grassroots for their efforts,” said ANCA WR Executive Director Elen Asatryan.
NKR Representative to the U.S. Robert Avetisyan hailed the decision, stating, “I am grateful to the House of Representatives of the state of Hawaii, Representative McKelvey, Representative Mizuno, and all their colleagues who supported this motion. It reinforces Artsakhtsis‘ confidence that our achievements do not go unnoticed; that a free and independent Nagorno-Karabagh Republic will eventually be recognized as such by the entire civilized community of nations.”
Both Avetisyan and Asatryan offered special thanks to community advocate Artur Artenyan, who worked tirelessly in support of the measure, with the support of the growing Hawaii Armenian community. In 2014, through local community efforts, the Hawaii legislature publicly debated and then rejected a pair of Azerbaijan-initiated anti-Armenian measures, dealing a high-profile setback to Baku’s well-funded effort to enlist U.S. state legislatures in its increasingly aggressive campaign against Armenia and Artsakh. Artenian and Rudy Dekermenjian were on hand at the state capitol
during the introduction and the vote.
In the days leading up to the vote, the ANCA Western Region worked with Artenyan and key House legislators, offering insights on Artsakh’s two decades of democratic development and economic progress in the face of increased attacks by Azerbaijani forces, which hit record levels in 2015.
Hawaii joins Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Louisiana, California, and, most recently, Georgia in adopting legislation that supports the independence of Artsakh. The full text of the resolution may be found online at legiscan.com/HI/text/HR167/id/1378938.
The ANCA-WR is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian-American community on a broad range of issues.