Law 15:35 22/05/2024 World

ANCA congressional testimony calls for $200 million aid for Artsakh refugees

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) called on key Senate Committees to pressure the Biden Administration to cut all military aid and sanction Azerbaijan’s genocidal leaders while allocating $200 million in U.S. assistance to survivors of the Artsakh Genocide.

In testimony submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, ANCA Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan explained that in the wake of Azerbaijan’s 2023 genocidal assault and ethnic cleansing of Artsakh’s 150,000 indigenous Armenian population, Congress must take decisive action. “We ask the Committee to press the Biden Administration to abandon its reckless policy of false parity and, instead, forthrightly condemn Azerbaijan’s aggression by taking actions that demonstrate a willingness to hold Baku accountable for its criminal behavior,” stated Yerimyan.

The ANCA testimony was timed with committee hearings this week featuring Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is defending President Biden’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 budget request. Yerimyan urged Congress to “continue full enforcement” of Section 907 restrictions on U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan. She went on to call for Committee support for requesting a report on Azerbaijan’s human rights practices pursuant to Section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act through passage of S.Res.540. “The findings of this report will strengthen the case to cut all military assistance to Azerbaijan and hold other allies, like Turkey, accountable for selling or transferring U.S. arms to Azerbaijan for use against innocent Armenian civilians,” argued Yerimyan.

The ANCA called on Committees to “conduct oversight of the Administration’s low levels of humanitarian assistance to Artsakh’s 150,000 refugees” and urged their FY2025 foreign aid legislation to include $200 million U.S. aid to Artsakh refugees, reiterating their right to return to their homes under international guarantees. “Our current failed U.S. policy in the Caucasus features lectures on democracy to democratic Armenia, ships U.S. tax-payer funded military aid to dictatorial Azerbaijan, and provides almost no assistance at all to at-risk Artsakh refugees. That must change,” stated Yerimyan.

The ANCA also urged the Congressional committees to follow up on Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights submissions to the Departments of State and Treasury, detailing evidence and demanding Global Magnitsky sanctions on 40+ senior Azerbaijani officials for war crimes and rights abuses during their blockade and aggression against Artsakh.

Yerimyan condemned the Biden Administration’s decision to send U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mark Libby to the ethnically cleansed Artsakh city of Shushi, despite an expressed U.S. policy of suspending high-level meetings while Azerbaijan illegally imprisons Artsakh leaders and Armenian POWs, continues to occupy sovereign Armenian territory, and uses coercion to unilateral Armenian land concessions. “As long as Azerbaijan believes there is more to gain through coercion than through negotiations, Armenia will face a threat to its very existence,” argued Yerimyan.

Yerimyan’s testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is available here.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, the panel tasked with writing the FY2025 foreign aid bill, is set to “mark up” and approve the measure as early as June 4th. Full committee and House consideration is likely soon thereafter. The Senate has yet to announce its calendar for consideration of the measure.

Over sixty U.S. Representatives cosigned the Congressional Armenian Caucus letter, strongly backed by the ANCA, calling for $200 million in assistance for Artsakh refugees, the suspension of all U.S. military and security aid to Azerbaijan, and the assessment of potential sanctions against Azerbaijani officials.

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