Armenian Assembly Welcomes Passage of Speier-Cox-Krishnamoorthi Amendment in Support of Demining in Nagorno Karabakh

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) welcomed the inclusion of the Speier-Cox-Krishnamoorthi amendment regarding demining assistance to Nagorno Karabakh as part of H.R. 7608 – the Fiscal Year 2021 State, Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Rural Development, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This bipartisan amendment, cosponsored by Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Susie Lee (D-NV), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), John Garamendi (D-CA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Andy Levin (D-MI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Dave Cicilline (D-RI), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Harley Rouda (D-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Max Rose (D-NY), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), and Dina Titus (D-NV),  provides $1.4 million in humanitarian demining assistance in Nagorno Karabakh.  It passed the House as part of an en bloc package of amendments.

“We applaud Representatives Speier, Cox and Krishnamoorthi along with the over 30 cosponsors who introduced this bipartisan amendment. Landmine clearance is critically important to continue to help save lives. As Congressman Sherman indicated earlier today in a hearing on the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget, USAID needs to finish the job (referring to demining in Nagorno Karabakh),” stated Assembly Congressional Relations Director Mariam Khaloyan.

In its testimony before the House and Senate, the Assembly has consistently and repeatedly advocated for robust assistance for the people of Artsakh, including demining. For a relatively small investment, the United States can make a significant difference for the people of Nagorno Karabakh, especially for the children.

Khaloyan added: “Inclusion of this amendment is a testament to the shared values between the United States and Nagorno Karabakh, and stands in stark contrast to the ill-conceived attempts to prohibit such assistance, in lockstep with Azerbaijan and its Laundromat lobbyists, to marginalize the Armenian people. The Assembly remains deeply troubled by Azerbaijan’s attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, which started earlier this month, including threats to target Armenia’s nuclear power plant.”

“We are overjoyed to see the House of Representatives include funding in the State and Foreign Operations bill for humanitarian demining in Nagorno Karabakh. We are especially grateful to Representatives Speier, Cox, and Krishnamoorthi for leading this effort, and want to thank the many other Members of Congress that have worked so hard to help ensure that HALO’s life-saving work can continue,” said Kristen Stevens, Government Affairs Manager, The HALO Trust (USA)

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.

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NR# 2020-26

Armenian Assembly Welcomes Pallone Amendment to Address Azerbaijan Human Rights Abuses

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.

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NR# 2020-25