From left, Rep. Katherine Kazarian, Ernest Atalian of Memory Dignity Justice Association, Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello and president of Memory Dignity Justice Association Garen Bagdasarian

Rhode Island Approves Legislation Commemorating Sumgait Massacres


PROVIDENCE — On May 17, the State of Rhode Island General Assembly approved a measure to recognize the Sumgait massacres committed by the Azeri government, a few months after its 30th anniversary was commemorated.

The bill recognizes that Artsakh has been Armenian land and that during their quest for liberation from Azerbaijan and attempt to be unified with Armenia, the Azeri armed forces rounded up Armenians in Baku and Sumgait and massacred them.

The bill also pays homage to the “tens of thousands of Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan [who] found shelter across the United States, including thousands of our current compatriots in the State of Rhode Island.”

The bill also condemns the Baku government for continuing to “instigate anti-Armenian sentiments and refuses to implement US-backed measures aimed at strengthening regional peace and stability by lowering tension along the border between Artsakh and Azerbaijan.”

The bill also “welcomes freedom aspirations of the Republic of Artsakh to continue developing as a trustful member of the international community of nations” and additionally, the bill supports “peaceful initiatives by the United States government and other international mediators called to promote final peace between Artsakh and Azerbaijan.”

The bill was sponsored by Representatives Katherine S. Kazarian, Nicholas A. Mattiello, K. K. Joseph Shekarchi, William O’ Brien and Gregg Amore.

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Garen Bagdasarian, president of Memory Dignity Justice Organization, which had been instrumental in the passage of the bill, said on behalf of the organization, “We are grateful to the legislature of our home state of Rhode Island for adopting this resolution. The resolution pays tribute to the memory of the innocent victims of the regime in Azerbaijan, which 30 years ago launched attacks, killing hundreds of civilians in Sumgait and Baku, whose only crime was being Armenian. Facing no condemnation, Azeri authorities later expanded their attacks and launched a full-scale military aggression against Artsakh.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of Armenians have been forced out of their homes in Azerbaijan, and many found their new homes in the United States. For us, it is important to share our story, and help protect our compatriots in Artsakh who continue to face threats of renewed aggression by the same Azeri regime.”

To view the text of the bill, visit


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