WASHINGTON — Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced a bipartisan resolution on February 1 to require that the Secretary of State provide a report on Azerbaijan’s human rights practices, including concerning allegations of human rights violations committed against ethnic Armenians, such as unlawful killings, torture, restrictions on freedom of movement, the illegal detention of political prisoners, and ethnic cleansing. Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-30) introduced a companion version of the resolution in the House of Representatives.
Since Azerbaijan’s large-scale military offensive on September 19, 2023, against the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians have fled to Armenia in fear of further persecution. Before the attack, Azerbaijani forces blockaded the Lachin corridor, the sole road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia and the outside world, to prevent imports of essential goods, humanitarian convoys, and all passages of food, fuel, and medicine from the Red Cross to the ethnic Armenians that lived in the territory.
“The need to hold Azerbaijan’s government accountable and forge a peaceful path forward is long overdue,” said Senator Markey. “Military action has never been the solution to peace and stability in Nagorno-Karabakh. This resolution puts pressure on Azerbaijan’s government to uphold human rights and stop committing crimes against ethnic Armenians in the region. We must protect the will, the rights, and the bedrock freedoms of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“Azerbaijan has already been bulldozing holy sites and starving Armenian communities. This is the type of country the Biden administration wants supplying LNG to Europe instead of Louisiana natural gas?” said Dr. Cassidy.
“The Administration’s continuing support for the Aliyev regime, which regularly commits atrocities and human rights violations, simply isn’t in line with our values as Americans. Given Azerbaijan’s egregious military action against Artsakh on September 19, it is imperative that President Biden and Secretary Blinken reconsider our aid policies,” said Representative Schiff. “This resolution aims to gather information on human rights abuses and war crimes being committed by Azerbaijan and to halt future aid. As a country that champions human rights, we must ensure our foreign aid reflects our commitment to core values and does not contribute to further violence against the Armenian people in Artsakh. This resolution is a step towards aligning our international aid with the ethical standards and interests of the United States.”
Within 30 days of enacting the resolution, the State Department would need to produce a report that includes:
- A description of all steps the State Department has taken to promote the protection of human rights by the Azerbaijan government, including any steps taken to discourage practices that are inimical to the protection of human rights and to publicly or privately call attention or disassociate the U.S. and its security assistance to any Azerbaijani violations of human rights.
- An assessment of whether any extraordinary measures exist that necessitate the continuation of security assistance to Azerbaijan and, if such circumstances do exist, the extent to which assistance should be continued.
- An assessment on the likelihood that U.S assistance has or will be used in support of Azerbaijani aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh, the blockade of the Lachin Corridor, or in relation to the conflict with Armenia.
- A description of U.S. government efforts to adhere to section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act, which prevents U.S. assistance to any security unit against credible allegations of human rights violations.
- And a determination of whether Azerbaijani officials found responsible in human rights abuses have met the criteria for sanctions and a description of any action the U.S. government is taking to implement sanctions under the Globa Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.