Armenian Americans Mark the Ninth Anniversary of the Murder of Armenian Lt. Gurgen Margaryan with Calls upon Congress to Counter Azerbaijani Aggression and Cut Arms Sales to Baku
WASHINGTON—The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) – on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the brutal axe-murder of Armenian Army Lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan by Azerbaijani Lt. Ramil Safarov – expanded an outreach campaign to the Washington foreign policy community about Azerbaijani’s escalating threats of war, destabilizing arms build-up, and ongoing threats to peace
Lt. Margaryan was axed to death in his sleep on February 19, 2004, by Azerbaijani officer Ramil Safarov, during a NATO-sponsored English language training program. The convicted murderer, who confessed and never expressed regret for his offense, was extradited by Hungary in 2012 to Azerbaijan, where he was immediately given a hero’s welcome, pardoned, promoted and financially rewarded for his hate crime. The U.S. condemned the action, with an immediate White House statement, issued in the name of National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor, underscoring the President’s view that, “This action is contrary to ongoing efforts to reduce regional tensions and promote reconciliation.” Similar statements were issued by Members of Congress and elected officials around the world.
“Lieutenant Margaryan’s premeditated and brutal murder nine years ago, and, more recently, President Aliyev’s pardon, praise, and promotion of his unrepentant killer, Ramil Safarov, reflect and reinforce the very same toxic, anti-Armenian hatred that fueled the Azerbaijani pogroms in Sumgait, Kirovabad, Maragha, and Baku,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “It is this officially-sanctioned hatred that would surely – if Artaskh were ever to fall into Aliyev’s angry grasp – lead to an all-out drive by Baku to destroy the entire Armenian population of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.”
As in past years, the ANCA has launched an online grassroots letter writing campaign educating Senators and Representatives about the victims of the Sumgait and Baku pogroms, and urging them to both celebrate Artsakh’s freedom and stand up against Azerbaijan’s continued aggression. Last year over a dozen U.S. legislators commemorated theses events, sharply criticizing Azerbaijan’s ongoing war rhetoric and attacks against Armenia and Karabakh.
From 1988 to 1990, the Armenian population in Soviet Azerbaijan was the target of racially motivated pogroms against Armenians in the cities of Sumgait (February 27-29, 1988), Kirovabad (November 21-27, 1988) and Baku (January 13-19, 1990).
At the time, Members of Congress condemned these premeditated and officially-sponsored attacks against Armenian civilians and passed amendments and resolutions demanding respect for the democratic aspirations of the people of Nagorno Karabakh.
These pogroms set the stage for two decades of aggression by Azerbaijan, during which it launched and lost a war against Nagorno Karabakh, and later used its oil wealth to buy a massive military arsenal that its leaders, to this day, vow to use to renew their attempts to conquer a Christian people that has lived on these lands for thousands of years and, after great challenges, has flourished in freedom from Soviet oppression for more than 20 years.
Read a detailed ANCA overview of Azerbaijani aggression against its Armenian population in Sumgait, Kirovabad and Baku as well as concrete ways Congress can assist in the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict.