WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) has intensified its advocacy on Capitol Hill, prompted by security concerns as a result of Azerbaijan’s increased aggression along the borders of Armenia and Artsakh, which has included the targeting of and substantial damage to a kindergarten in Armenia’s Tavush region.
From the Assembly’s testimony in the House and Senate and its outreach to Members of Congress, the Assembly remains dedicated to underscoring the need to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions. The Assembly also continues to emphasize the importance of humanitarian and development aid for the people of Artsakh.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) reiterated his support for assistance to Artsakh as well as a robust cease-fire monitoring system, which Armenia and Artsakh have agreed to implement. When he met with Assembly Terjenian-Thomas interns this summer, Royce highlighted the letter he spearheaded with Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) which proposes three concrete steps that would save lives in Artsakh and help to avert war.
In addition, the Assembly has called for Members to withdraw their Membership from the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, and given the ongoing violations by Azerbaijan, renews its call.
Working in tandem with the Assembly Co-Chairs and helping to lead the charge, long-time Board Member Annie Totah organized several Assembly delegations and held numerous meetings with elected officials to reinforce the Assembly’s message. Mrs. Totah met with, among others, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), and freshman Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD).
An Assembly delegation with Mrs. Totah met with Sen. Van Hollen, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. They relayed the importance of U.S. assistance to Armenia and Artsakh, and shared the testimony submitted by Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny to the Subcommittee for Fiscal Year 2018 highlighting key priorities, including deep concerns regarding Azerbaijan’s deadly ceasefire violations and its targeting of civilians occurring more frequently with recent reports of continuous attacks at the line of contact.
Mrs. Totah continued her outreach with Congressman Steny Hoyer, a long-time friend and ardent supporter of Armenian issues. He has been a steadfast supporter of congressional efforts to combat genocide denial by reaffirming the proud chapter in U.S. history in helping to save survivors of the Armenian Genocide. She thanked him for all the work he has done helping Artsakh and Armenia.
More recently, Rep. Hoyer was vocal in condemning Turkey for the violence against peaceful protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence and voted in support of H.R. 354. He stated: “Our resolution makes it clear, the United States will not tolerate violence against peaceful protesters on our shores and those responsible must face justice.”
Mrs. Totah also met with Rep. Brown and described the role and work of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues. She and the Assembly staff urged him to join the growing Armenian Caucus, which is currently comprised of 109 Members of Congress. During her conversation with Tom Perez, who was elected this year to serve as the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Mrs. Totah discussed the importance of U.S.-Armenia relations and the strong and vibrant Armenian communities across the country that care deeply about their homeland.
“The Armenian Assembly will continue to advance key priorities as we seek to further strengthen U.S.-Armenia and U.S.-Artsakh relations and hold Azerbaijan accountable for its egregious human rights violations,” Ardouny stated. “We also deeply appreciate Annie’s tireless advocacy on behalf of the Armenian people. Her enthusiasm and dedication are truly remarkable. We look forward to her significant and continued efforts,” he added.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.