Rep. Sanchez Calls for Leahy Law Investigation of Azerbaijani Abuses

Urges Administration to Conduct Thorough Review of US Military Aid to Baku

WASHINGTON—Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, called for a “Leahy Law” investigation into reports that the Azerbaijan armed forces, which annually receive millions of dollars in U.S. military aid, committed gross violations of human rights during Baku’s April 2 offensive against Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh), reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) calling for a ‘Leahy Law’ investigation of Azerbaijan during the mark-up of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) calling for a ‘Leahy Law’ investigation of Azerbaijan during the mark-up of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

In remarks during an Armed Services hearing today on the National Defense Authorization Act, Rep. Sanchez noted that she has reviewed credible allegations that units of the Azerbaijani military have committed gross violations of human rights. “I believe that these blatant human rights violations warrant action on our part to direct our Secretary of Defense to work with our Secretary of State on an investigation on possible human rights violations. And I believe the U.S. should conduct an investigation on whether the ‘Leahy Law’ is being violated by the Azerbaijani military,” stated Rep. Sanchez. “We, the United States, we are a leader on human rights and we cannot afford to support militaries that commit human rights violations.”

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) with ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian at the Congressional Armenian Genocide Observance on Capitol Hill
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) with ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian at the Congressional Armenian Genocide Observance on Capitol Hill

In her remarks, Rep. Sanchez cited sharp criticism of Azerbaijan’s human rights record and called attention to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev’s pardon and praise for Ramil Safarov, who axe-murdered an Armenian officer while he slept during a NATO peace-keeping training program in Hungary. Rep. Sanchez’s statement accompanied an amendment that she submitted, but later withdrew for procedural purposes

Video of Rep. Sanchez’s remarks is available below:

 

The Sanchez amendment is available at: http://anca.org/assets/graphics/2016/Sanchez_Amendment_042816.pdf

“We join with Representative Loretta Sanchez in calling for a ‘Leahy Law’ investigation into reports of Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian atrocities,” said ANCA Western Region Chairwoman Nora Hovsepian. “Armenian Americans—from her district and across California—welcome her principled leadership in ensuring that our U.S. tax dollars are not used to kill, maim, and torture Armenian civilians or soldiers.”

As a recipient of both Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance, Azerbaijan is subject to scrutiny, under a set of U.S. laws known collectively as the Leahy Laws, which are triggered when there are reliable reports of U.S.-funded foreign units committing atrocities. If proven to be true, such conduct would result in 1) statutory restrictions on continued military aid to the units found to have engaged in these abuses, 2) U.S. efforts to engage with the foreign government in question to bring those responsible to justice.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) with ANCA WR’s Silva Kechichian, ANCA WR Chairwoman Nora Hovsepian, ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian, and ANCA WR Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan.
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) with ANCA WR’s Silva Kechichian, ANCA WR Chairwoman Nora Hovsepian, ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian, and ANCA WR Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan.

The Obama Administration, if it chooses to move forward with an investigation, would direct the Department of State—including the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) and the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs—to open a Leahy Law review—involving a thorough vetting of our military aid program to Azerbaijan and an investigation into reported anti-Armenian atrocities.

Credible reports of war crimes committed by Aliyev’s forces against civilians and Karabagh defense forces during the April 2-7 Azerbaijani attack on Nagorno-Karabagh republic have emerged—including the execution and mutilation of an elderly couple in the village of Talish and the beheading of three Armenian soldiers. An extensive report issued by the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic Ombudsman regarding the issue is available at: http://anca.org/assets/graphics/2016/Public-Report-Ombudsman-of-NKR.pdf

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you Loretta Sanchez for exposing the gross violation of human rights by Azerbaijan, encouraged by Turkey for its own criminal ends. These atrocities have been going on for over two decades now, while the world watches over and unscrupulous countries keep on selling internationally outlawed weapons to the Azeris knowing exactly where and why these weapons are going to be used. It is about time the US government stood up for what all good Americans beleives in and stopped helping these criminal countries with more aid. We call on the US to bring these criminals to justice.

  2. Even after all those credible reports emerged, revealing the war crimes committed by Hyena Aliyev’s troops against Armenians during the April 2-7 Azerbaijani terrorist attack against Artsakh, which includes the execution and mutilation of an elderly couple in the village of Talish, and the mutilation of eighteen Armenian soldiers (three of whom were beheaded), the Obama administration, nevertheless, has totally overlooked all of this, and has refused to condemn Azerbaijan for these savagely evil acts.

    What the hell happened to the Royce-Engel proposals (Armenia and Artsakh have both expressed strong support for these proposals, which would end up saving many lives, as opposed to Azerbaijan, which is firmly against these proposals), which revolve around the placement of OSCE-monitored, advanced gunfire-locator systems and sound-ranging equipment to determine the source of attacks along the Line of Contact, as well as the deployment of OSCE observers along the Line of Contact to better monitor ceasefire violations?

    Well, by failing to install these very simple Royce-Engel proposals, which would end up saving so many precious Armenian lives, shows that the U.S. government is totally unconcerned and insensitive about the massive human rights abuses that have been taking place against the Armenians of Artsakh. Therefore, the United States, once again, is nowhere close to being a leader in the department of human rights.

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