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Recognizing The Anniversary Of Massacres Against Armenians In Sumgait

Rep. Jim Costa

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, once again I rise on behalf of the thousands of Armenian Americans in my congressional district to remember the evening of February 27, 1988, when a murderous campaign began against Christian Armenian civilians living in Sumgait, Azerbaijan. Tragically, police in nearby Baku ignored the atrocities and allowed the rampage to continue for three days.

Azerbaijani rioters murdered, raped and maimed Armenians, throwing women and children from windows and burning victims alive. While some estimate that more than 30 individuals were killed and more than 200 injured, others estimate that hundreds were murdered. The Soviets banned journalists from entering the area and, for two decades, Azerbaijani authorities relentlessly covered up, ignored and whitewashed these tragic events.

Even worse, many believe the atrocities were officially sanctioned by Azerbaijani authorities to send a clear message to the Armenians, who were peacefully demonstrating against Azerbaijani repression and discrimination in Nagorno Karabakh just days before the massacre.

The anniversary of this horrifying moment in history serves as yet another call to action to build a more peaceful and just world. The United States must stand firmly against repression and human rights abuses.