Washington, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) welcomes the inclusion of an amendment authored by Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which addresses human rights abuses by Azerbaijan.
Rep. Pallone’s amendment, which was cosponsored in the House Committee on Rules by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Jackie Speier (D-CA) requires a report from the Secretary of Defense, in collaboration with the Secretary of State, addressing allegations that some units of foreign countries that have participated in security cooperation programs under Section 333 of title 10, U.S.C. (Building Partner Capacity Program) may have also committed gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights before or while receiving U.S. security assistance. This report would also include recommendations to improve human rights training and additional measures that can be adopted to prevent these types of violations.
During the April 2016 Four-Day War against Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh Republic) initiated by Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani military committed ISIS-style atrocities killing a 12-year-old boy, beheading a soldier, and mutilating an elderly Armenian couple. In addition, the latest and deadly attack against Armenia, which began last week on July 12 targeted civilian areas – the city of Berd and the villages of Aygepar, Chinari, Movses, Nerkin Karmiraghbyur, and Norashen – in Armenia’s Tavush Province. Azerbaijan also inexplicably threatened to target Armenia’s Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant.
The Pallone amendment, which the Armenian Assembly strongly supported, including in its letter to the House Committee on Rules, was adopted as part of an en bloc package of amendments to the NDAA by voice vote today. During consideration of the NDAA on the House floor, Rep. Brad Sherman expressed his support for the Pallone amendment.
“The United States has long stood as a beacon for the rights of every person, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or nationality. We must continue to lead by example and ensure that American foreign aid does not contradict our values at home or abroad,” Congressman Pallone said. “This amendment is especially important now as Azerbaijan threatens Armenia’s safety and sovereignty with offensive attacks staged by Azeri armed forces in Armenia’s Tavush region. The United States should not be aiding and abetting reckless, autocratic states with appalling human rights records for any reason.”
“Given Azerbaijan’s $3 billion scandalous Laundromat scheme to whitewash its human rights record, as well as its continued attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, we commend Representative Pallone for this timely amendment,” stated Assembly Congressional Relations Director Mariam Khaloyan.
Last month, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requested an assessment regarding the amount and nature of U.S. assistance provided to Azerbaijan, including if any assistance “was used for offensive purposes against Armenia or Nagorno-Karabakh, or may have enabled such offensive purposes, however indirectly.”
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(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.