LAS VEGAS–The ANC of Nevada has responded to a proclamation issued by Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons which proclaimed March 31 as Azerbaijani Remembrance Day. The proclamation commemorates the deaths of tens of thousands of Azerbaijani civilians due to the Armenian-Azeri conflict and the so called “March Massacres” of 1918 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The proclamation, the timing of which is highly questionable, has caused great consternation and substantial outrage in the Armenian American community in Nevada and throughout the country. Based on manipulative news coverage in the Azerbaijani and international press, it appears this proclamation has been promoted by interests wishing to oppose the self-determination of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and further to distract attention from efforts to recognize the
“The Armenian-American community throughout the state of Nevada is shocked that Governor Gibbons was so easily misled and manipulated by foreign interest groups representing the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey and their high priced lobbyists. We expect our Silver State public officials to do their homework and represent the interests of their constituents here in Nevada,” stated ANC Nevada spokesperson Razmik Ablo.
In a letter to the Governor, the ANC of Nevada expressed the community’s outrage and disappointment over the proclamation’s wording which refers to NKR as a part of
Azerbaijan’s “territorial integrity” when the US State Department and OSCE Minsk Group have made clear that the right of self-determination for the people of NKR is an equal priority. The letter also states that “this proclamation is currently being offered as human rights activists around the world prepare for the observation of the international day of commemoration of the Armenian Genocide on April 24. As you are also aware, the Turkish government and its foreign agents deny the historical reality of this crime. Unfortunately, scores of news stories emanating from the Azerbaijani press are utilizing your proclamation as a subterfuge for genocide denial by stating that this proclamation supports the idea that Armenians committed genocide against Azerbaijanis at the time.”
The historical record regarding the period in question makes it clear that civil war raged in the area. According to documents in the United States Library of Congress and publications of that era such as the New York Times, pro-Russian communist forces engaged in isolated acts of violence. These acts were not systematic and widespread, such as tactics implemented in the Armenian Genocide, Holocaust and Darfur.
“As committed human rights advocates, we do not minimize the suffering of any people at any time ‘s but instead call attention to the politically motivated nature of the proclamation; ;we feel it is necessary to raise awareness of the true intentions of those interested in securing such proclamations from the governor of our state.”
ANC of Nevada advocates for the social, economic, cultural, and political rights of the area’s Armenian American community and promotes increased Armenian American civic participation at the grassroots and public policy levels.
The full text of the proclamation is below:
STATE OF NEVADA
A PROCLAMATION BY THE GOVERNOR
WHEREAS, the Republic of Azerbaijan has an area of 33,440 square miles, including the Karabakh region, situated in the South Caucasus region, southeastern Europe; and
WHEREAS, the territorial integrity, state sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan is supported by the United States and its citizens; and
WHEREAS, in March 1918, ethnic and religious tensions grew and the rmenian-Azeri conflict in Baku began; and
WHEREAS, as a result of the conflict, the region suffered thousands of casualties in Baku, Shemakha, Guba, Shusha, including the deaths of tens of thousands of Azerbaijani civilians; and
WHEREAS, every year since 1918, Azerbaijanis and many people around the globe, observe March 31 as a Day of Remembrance, to honor the
victims resulting from the fighting that began in March 1918; and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JIM GIBBONS, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, do hereby proclaim March 31, 2009 as AZERBAIJANI REMEMBRANCE DAY In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Nevada to be affixed at the State Capitol in Carson City, this 31st day of