RICHMOND, Va. – As part of the ANCA Eastern Region’s Advocacy Days on Capitol Hill, leaders and activists from the Armenian National Committee of Virginia met with Representative Don Beyer, Representative Abigail Spanberger, Representative Gerry Connolly, Representative Rob Wittman, Senator Tim Kaine and Senator Mark Warner to demand Congress put an end to all aid to a genocidal Azerbaijan, the top priority of the Armenian-American community of Virginia.
ANC Virginia members Sosy Bouroujian, Kate Nahapetian, Hovsep Seferian, Richard Kashmanian, Eta Nahapetian, Lucy Bartamian, Bedros Bandazian, Leiza Bourouijan, Patricia Najarian and Sarkis Karabashian encouraged Representatives Beyer, Spanberger, Connolly and Wittman to co-sponsor and join H.Res.108, the bipartisan resolution condemning Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh, led by Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) and leaders of the Congressional Armenian Caucus. The resolution aims to break the brutal blockade that oil-rich Azerbaijan put in place on December 12, 2022, against the 120,000 Christian Armenians living in their indigenous Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) homeland. In addition to condemning Azerbaijan’s blockade of the 120,000 indigenous population of Artsakh, H.Res.108 also calls for sanctions and cutting all military aid to Azerbaijan and sending robust assistance to Artsakh.
Activists also met with Senators Warner and Kaine and encouraged them to make a public statement condemning Azerbaijan’s blockade and request direct humanitarian aid to Artsakh. During the meetings, ANC Virginia members called on the senators to support soon-to-be-introduced legislation, which mirrors the “Condemning Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and ongoing human rights violations” introduced in the House.
“Members of the ANC of Virginia remain steadfast in their commitment to protecting the unalienable rights of the citizens of Artsakh to live peacefully in their indigenous homeland. The time has come for our Senators and Representatives to stand on the right side of Artsakh’s history, by cutting all aid to Azerbaijan and not allowing them to act with impunity. The ANC of Virginia will capitalize on the discussions had during advocacy days to ensure the voices of Armenian-American constituents continue to be heard and represented in the halls of Congress.” said ANC of Virginia chair Sosy Bouroujian.
As a result of the meetings held, Representative Spanberger became an original co-sponsor of the resolution. Virginia activists are committed to increasing the list of co-sponsors for this critical resolution in support of Artsakh.
“Continuing the fight of our brothers and sisters in Artsakh is our responsibility as Armenian-Americans, and we can proudly say that we have advanced the issue to a great extent in the past few days with the help of our representatives. This marks a successful campaign for justice and a promising sign of the power of the Armenian voice in Virginia and across the United States,” said ANC Virginia activist, Hovsep Seferian.
In the early morning of December 12, 2022, the Azerbaijani government began an illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor—the only road connecting the indigenous Armenian people of Artsakh to the outside world. Since then, food and medical supplies have been almost entirely cut while access to the internet and energy for heat and electricity have been repeatedly shut off. This blockade on the people of Artsakh represents only the latest in a clear pattern of escalation that requires a firm US response to prevent a humanitarian disaster. On February 1 and 2, the ANCA Eastern Region led Advocacy Days on Capitol Hill where community members and allies will meet with US Senators and Representatives from eastern region states to deliver one clear message: cut all aid to Azerbaijan. On February 2, the ARF Eastern Region held a protest at Capitol Hill to underscore the demand to cut all aid to Azerbaijan and rally support and coverage for this essential Hai Tahd message and goal in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Artsakh.