December 17, 2022

Schiff Leads Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs and 24 Members in Urging President Biden to Ensure Artsakh’s Safety

Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) led his fellow co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues and 24 Members of Congress in sending a letter to President Biden, urging the administration to use all diplomatic tools at its disposal to ensure the safety of the people of Artsakh amid the growing crisis in the region. The members also called for the administration to cease all financial support to Azerbaijan and impose sanctions.

On December 12, Azerbaijan imposed a blockade of the Lachin Corridor – the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, to Armenia – leaving 120,000 people without access to the route that supplies Artsakh with food, medical supplies, transport, and other essential goods. Additional reports allege Azerbaijan has also shut off one of the major sources of natural gas for civilians in the territory, potentially leaving tens of thousands without heating as temperatures plummet.

“Azerbaijan is once again weaponizing basic human necessities to further degrade already strained living conditions for the Armenians living in Artsakh. If this situation continues, a humanitarian crisis with potentially tragic consequences is imminent,” the members wrote in the letter.

These latest provocatory actions by Azerbaijan are only the latest in two years of ongoing violence and aggression by the Aliyev regime against the people of Armenia and Artsakh, since Azerbaijan and Turkey’s September 2020 attacks when they killed thousands of Armenian civilians and soldiers, displaced tens of thousands more, and illegally detained prisoners of war.

Schiff and his fellow Armenian Caucus co-chairs have been urging the Biden administration to direct much-needed U.S. humanitarian assistance to the people of Artsakh, immediately cease all U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan, use its diplomatic powers to secure the immediate release of all Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians, and explore the applicability of sanctions on Azerbaijan in response to its gross violations of international law.

“This is only the most recent example of Azerbaijan’s belligerence, which has followed a well-documented pattern of abuse against the Armenian population of Artsakh, motivated by the bombastic rhetoric of the Aliyev regime. We urge the Administration to use all tools at its disposal to ensure the safety of the people of Artsakh, now and in the future, including cessation of financial support to Azerbaijan and imposition of sanctions. We cannot allow Azerbaijan’s policy of aggression and intimidation to continue,” the members continued.

The letter is co-signed by Armenian Caucus co-chairs Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), and David Valadao (R-Calif.), as well as Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), James Langevin (D-R.I.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Susan Wild (D-Pa.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.), and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.).

Click here to read the letter or read the full text below:

Dear President Biden,

Since December 12th, Azerbaijan has imposed a blockade of the Lachin Corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) to Armenia. The effect has been devastating to the population, rendering 120,000 individuals without access to the route that provides much of Artsakh’s food, medical supplies and transport, and other essential goods, and depriving them of their right to free movement. Additional reports allege that Azerbaijan has also shut off one of the major sources of natural gas for civilians in the territory, potentially leaving tens of thousands without heating as temperatures plummet.

Azerbaijan is once again weaponizing basic human necessities to further degrade already strained living conditions for the Armenians living in Artsakh. If this situation continues, a humanitarian crisis with potentially tragic consequences is imminent. Further, Azerbaijan’s actions are a direct violation of the trilateral ceasefire statement of November 9, 2020, which outlines an obligation to guarantee the secure movement of citizens, vehicles, and cargo in both directions through this route known as the Lachin Corridor.

The people of Artsakh were already in a precarious situation before December 12th, as they have not yet recovered from the humanitarian fallout of the September 2020 unprovoked military assault by Azerbaijan on Artsakh, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians and soldiers, the ongoing detention of prisoners of war, and the displacement of tens of thousands of civilians. Since then, despite Congressional calls for much-needed direct U.S. humanitarian assistance for the people of Artsakh, the Administration has, to date, failed to provide adequate aid, which makes decisive action by the Administration now all the more urgent.

This is only the most recent example of Azerbaijan’s belligerence, which has followed a well-documented pattern of abuse against the Armenian population of Artsakh, motivated by the bombastic rhetoric of the Aliyev regime. We urge the Administration to use all tools at its disposal to ensure the safety of the people of Artsakh, now and in the future, including cessation of financial support to Azerbaijan and imposition of sanctions. We cannot allow Azerbaijan’s policy of aggression and intimidation to continue.

Sincerely,

Members of Congress

###