TRENTON, NJ — New Jersey officially became the 10th U.S. state to recognize Artsakh, reported the Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region (ANCA-ER). ANC of New Jersey led a grassroots advocacy effort to secure recognition alongside New Jersey State Senator Joseph Lagana who first introduced the legislation, SCR.71, in the New Jersey State Senate in 2020 and reintroduced it in the 2021 session with the support of New Jersey State Senators Vin Gopal, Holly Schepisi and Nicholas Scutari.
ANCA National Board Member and ANCA Eastern Region Board Chair Ani Tchaghlasian, a New Jersey resident and ANC of New Jersey activist, along with Joe Ariyan, ANC of New Jersey member, testified in front of the New Jersey State Senate Judiciary Committee underscoring the importance of Artsakh’s self-determination on June 30 and were in chambers when it passed.
“Over 100 years after the genocide began in 1915, the Armenian community still grapples with the effects of the horrific acts of violence committed by the Ottoman Empire. Millions of Armenians faced displacement, starvation, persecution and death,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Today, we stand by our Armenian-American neighbors by calling those events what they were: a genocide. By acknowledging this truth, and by condemning human rights violations happening today, we make it clear that this tragic history cannot be allowed to repeat itself.”
New Jersey is home to more than 50,000 Armenian Americans. The resolution comes on the heels of recognition of Artsakh in several of the Garden State’s cities including the Borough of Fort Lee, Englewood Cliffs, Cliffside Park and Ridgefield, New Jersey. New Jersey is the tenth state to recognize Artsakh. Other states include Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Louisiana, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan and Colorado.
“We cannot thank State Senator Lagana enough for his steadfast commitment, and for introducing SCR.71. Senator Lagana has been a friend of our community since he was first elected to the state assembly years ago – he is a champion of doing what is right for people everywhere and we truly appreciate it,” said Joe Ariyan, ANC of New Jersey activist. “Alongside his colleagues Senators Gopal, Schepisi and Scutari, Senator Lagana’s Resolution provides us with the fuel we need to continue to advocate on behalf of the Armenian Nation,” said Ariyan.
“As a descendant of Armenian Genocide survivors and a resident of New Jersey, I am so proud to be represented by elected officials who prioritize human rights and a just resolution to the unjust atrocities committed against my ancestors,” said Karine Shnorhokian. “This resolution is another step in the direction of securing the safety and security of the Armenians in Artsakh and Armenia, who even today, are currently facing threats from neighboring Azerbaijan and Turkey,” said Shnorhokian.
TEXT of RESOLUTION:
A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION recognizing the Armenian Genocide and condemning attacks against civilians in the Republic of Artsakh.
WHEREAS, On April 24, 1915, Ottoman Empire authorities arrested, and later executed, more than 200 Armenian community leaders and intellectuals in the capital of Constantinople, now known as Istanbul; and
WHEREAS, This atrocity marked the escalation of systemic persecution and violence against the Armenian people by the government of the Ottoman Empire that continued through 1923; and
WHEREAS, During this period, Armenians were subject to deportation, expropriation, abduction, torture, massacre, and starvation, planned and orchestrated by the government of the Ottoman Empire; and
WHEREAS, In all, approximately 1.5 million Armenians had perished and hundreds of thousands more had become homeless, stateless refugees at the hands of the Ottoman Empire; and
WHEREAS, These horrific events constitute what is widely recognized today by numerous scholars, governments, and international organizations as the Armenian Genocide; and
WHEREAS, In 2019, the United States Congress expressed that it is the policy of the United States to recognize the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance; and
WHEREAS, On April 24, 2021, recognized as “Armenian Genocide Memorial Day” in Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh, President Biden officially declared that the United States considers the events “genocide” in a statement; and
WHEREAS, Notwithstanding the historical evidence to the contrary and international recognition, some, including the government of the Republic of Turkey, deny that the Armenian Genocide ever happened; and
WHEREAS, Turkey has continued its campaign of aggression against the Armenian population of the Republic of Artsakh, a democracy and integral part of the Armenian homeland for thousands of years; and
WHEREAS, The Republic of Artsakh, having legally declared its independence from Azerbaijan and resisted years of aggression, consistently holds parliamentary and presidential elections that have been rated as free and fair by international observers; and
WHEREAS, Azerbaijan, with the support of Turkey, illegally targeted civilian homes and infrastructure, cultural sites, and religious sites;
WHEREAS, Azerbaijan has already destroyed and continues to destroy Armenian churches and cultural sites in the territories they have illegally occupied since the end of the hostilities in 2020; and
WHEREAS, Turkey has continued its military support to Azerbaijan in its full-scale attack against Artsakh, including from September 27 to November 9, 2020 in an attempt to remove the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh from its homeland; and
WHEREAS, The danger of denying these events was manifested when Adolf Hitler ordered his military commanders to attack Poland without provocation in 1939 by saying “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?,” setting the stage for the Holocaust; and
WHEREAS, It is altogether fitting and proper to remember, with the Armenian communities throughout New Jersey, the United States, and the world, and with Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh, these tragic events and to condemn any actors that attempt such atrocities again; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the State of New Jersey (the General Assembly concurring):
- The New Jersey Legislature recognizes the Armenian Genocide and acknowledges the criminal mistreatment of Armenians by the government of the Ottoman Empire as an issue of international and historic significance.
- The New Jersey Legislature condemns attacks by Azerbaijan against the civilians in the Artsakh Republic, recognizes the Republic of Artsakh’s right to self-determination and independence, and respectfully urges the President of the United States and the United States Congress to do the same.
- The New Jersey Legislature respectfully urges the United States Senate to pass Senate Resolution No. 754 and Senate Resolution No. 755, introduced by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, to ensure that the United States is not providing support to the actors committing violations of international law and human rights against the people of the Republic of Artsakh.
- The New Jersey Legislature expresses that it is the policy of New Jersey to:
(1) commemorate the Armenian Genocide and acknowledge the crimes against Armenians by the government of the Ottoman Empire as an issue of international and historic significance;
(2) reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the State of New Jersey with denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide; and
(3) encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Armenian Genocide, including the role of the United States in humanitarian relief efforts, and the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern-day crimes against humanity from the 2020 war on the Republic of Artsakh.