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Commemorating Armenian Victims Of Pogroms And Ethnic Cleansing

Rep. Jackie Speier

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the victims of pogroms against Armenians in Sumgait (1988), Kirovabad (1988), and Baku (1990), and the ethnic-cleansing of the Armenian population of Azerbaijan.

I hope that by speaking out publicly against these atrocities I will help reaffirm America's commitment to an enduring, peaceful and democratic resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

It is sickening that even during modern times, less than 25 years ago, brutal attacks on Armenians occurred in Azerbaijan.

Thomas de Waal, in his book Black Garden, described the massacres of Sumgait as:

``Gangs, ranging in size from about a dozen to more than fifty, roamed around, smashing windows, burning cars, but above all looking for Armenians to attack. The roving gangs committed acts of horrific savagery. Several victims were so badly mutilated by axes that their bodies could not be identified. Women were stripped naked and set on fire. Several were raped repeatedly.''

But shockingly most of the Azeris who committed these horrific acts and their accomplices in government were not brought to justice.

The Sumgait Massacres are part of a long and disgraceful history of violence against the Armenian people that also includes successive massacres in Kirovabad and Baku.

It is past time for the United States to officially recognize the Armenian genocide and to support the security and self-determination of the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh.

This anniversary should serve as a reminder that we can stay silent no more.

Let's take this moment to remember all those who lost their lives at Sumgait, Kirovabadk, and Baku and pledge to prevent ethnic cleansing from occurring anywhere in the future.