WASHINGTON — U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman issued a statement commemorating Azerbaijan’s massacre of Armenians in Sumgait and Baku on March 1.
“I stand in solidarity with the Armenian American community in commemorating the February 1988 Sumgait Pogroms. Thirty-four years ago, in the Azerbaijani town of Sumgait, Azerbaijani mobs targeted and assaulted peaceful Armenian residents on the basis of their ethnicity and endured unspeakable crimes. The violence left hundreds of Armenian civilians dead and injured, women and girls were raped, some victims were burned alive, and thousands were forced to flee their homes.
This tragic anti-Armenian massacre helped touch off a wave of anti-Armenian violence that spread to Kirovabad in November 1988 and to Baku in January 1990, which culminated in the forcible expulsion of 390,000 Armenians from Azerbaijan and the 1991-94 war over Artsakh.
As we pause to honor the memories of the victims of the Sumgait Pogroms, must also use this solemn anniversary to remember the consequences that ensue when aggression and ethnic hatred grow unchecked.
This stark reminder remains evident today as the government of Azerbaijan continues its state-sponsored policy of aggression against Armenia and Artsakh. The world witnessed the consequences of Azerbaijan’s unchecked hatred against Armenians during the invasion of Artsakh in 2020 as Azeri forces committed horrendous war crimes against Armenian civilians, including women and the elderly, and illegally imprisoned Armenian POWs after the cessation of hostilities. Many POWs are still held by Azerbaijan.
The government of Azerbaijan must be held accountable by the international community for its legacy of aggression against the Armenian people – from the pogroms committed thirty-four years ago, to their relentless belligerence against Armenians that persists today. Such crimes against humanity must never go unrecognized or escape accountability, whether they occurred yesterday or 30 years ago or 100 years ago.