WASHINGTON—Armenian Americans from throughout the Greater Washington area called Hungary’s release and Azerbaijan’s pardon and glorification of convicted axe-murderer Ramil Safarov a travesty of justice and pressed for the killer’s immediate re-incarceration, at a demonstration held in front of the Hungarian Embassy.
“Hungary’s extradition of an unrepentant axe-murderer to Azerbaijan, where his actions were hailed as heroic from the moment he committed the crime, is simply unconscionable and must be reversed,” said AYF Ani Chapter Chairwoman Tevin Poladian. “President Aliyev’s unapologetic pardon and rewarding of Safarov sends a clear message to the rest of his troops — ‘kill a defenseless Armenian and you can be promoted in rank and get a new apartment,’ — certainly not the actions of a leader committed to peace.”
The September 9th protest, organized by the local ARF Sebouh Gomideh and AYF Ani chapter, was the second in two weeks to be held in the nation’s capital. The first was an impromptu action held on August 31st, just hours after media reports of Hungary’s extradition of Safarov, an Azerbaijani army officer serving a life-sentence for brutally hacking to death Armenian Lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan, in his sleep, during a NATO sponsored English language training program in Hungary in 2004. Armenian communities worldwide have protested Hungary’s release and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s immediate, pardon, promotion and compensation of Safarov, who has been glorified by Azerbaijani government and media alike.
During remarks offered at the protest, ARF Sebouh Gomideh member Hovsep Avakian noted that Safarov’s release is simply the most recently example of the Azerbaijani Government’s efforts to undermine the internationally mediated Nagorno Karabakh peace talks, citing the Aliyev regime’s constant cease-fire violations against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh and repeated calls for war. “How can President Aliyev be considered a reliable partner for peace, when his actions are geared to incite violence, hatred and war?”
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian cited the international outrage at Hungary and Azerbaijan’s actions, including statements by the White House and State Department issued within hours of Safarov’s release. “Statements are an important first step,” said Hamparian, “but what is needed now is action – including a ban on all U.S. military assistance and sales to Azerbaijan.”
The ANCA has encouraged Armenian Americans and people of good conscience to reach out to their U.S. Senators and Representatives, asking that they support a range of pro-Armenian foreign aid priorities, including cutting off all military assistance to Azerbaijan, humanitarian and relocation assistance for the vulnerable Armenian population in Syria, assistance to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Take action now!
At the end of the protest, Soorp Khatch Armenian Church pastor, Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian and St. Mary Armenian Church pastor, Rev. Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan, led protesters in prayers and a requiem ceremony in memory of slain Armenian soldier Gurgen Margaryan.