Hon. Frank Pallone, Jr.
February 26, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the Sumgait pogroms, one of the most horrific attacks against the Armenian people, committed at the hands of Azerbaijanis 28 years ago.
On February 27, 1988, hundreds of Armenian civilians living in the city of Sumgait in Azerbaijan were indiscriminately killed, raped, maimed, and even burned alive for no reason other than their ethnicity. This senseless violence was instigated by hostile, anti-Armenian rhetoric from Azerbaijani citizens and officials against innocent Armenians.
For nearly three decades, Azerbaijan has taken steps to cover up these crimes against humanity and dismiss the atrocities at Sumgait. Even more disturbing is that the perpetrators of this event and similar violent attacks have since been lauded as national heroes.
I condemn these horrific attacks. Tragically, the Azerbaijani government’s approach toward the Armenian people has not changed much since these attacks were perpetrated.
In 2016, we hear the same violent rhetoric and witness the intimidation tactics by the Azerbaijani government against the people of Nagorno Karabakh.
If we do not condemn crimes against humanity and allow them to go unpunished and unrecognized we only strengthen the resolve of those seeking to perpetrate these crimes in the future. The Armenian people have known this for too long, as we prepare to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in April.
I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus to remember the victims of the pogroms at Sumgait and to condemn all acts of violence against people who are targeted simply because of their existence. I hope my colleagues will join me in rejecting violent rhetoric and intimidation and renewing our commitment to achieving a collective peace.