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Mr. PALLONE. Madam Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the Sumgait pogrom and the 32nd anniversary of the Baku pogrom.
Hundreds of Armenian civilians living in the city of Sumgait in Azerbaijan suffered horrific acts of violence when they were indiscriminately killed, raped, maimed, and burned alive in a pogrom that started on February 27, 1988. Almost two years later, a seven-day pogrom broke out in Baku during which Armenians were beaten, murdered, and expelled from the city beginning January 12, 1990. Over 90 Armenian civilians were killed, over 700 were injured, and countless other victims were permanently displaced by the ethnic violence that followed.
The Azerbaijani Government was complicit in each of these atrocities by using violent rhetoric in rallies leading up to the pogrom and by doing nothing to halt the ensuing violence against Armenian citizens. Azerbaijan has taken steps over the last two decades to cover up these crimes against humanity and dismiss the atrocities committed in Sumgait and Baku. Even more disturbing, the Azeri Government lauded the perpetrators of this event and similar violent attacks.
President Aliyev's regime continues to use hateful rhetoric against Armenians to this day, including in the build up to Azerbaijan's deadly attacks on Artsakh in the fall of 2020. Azeri forces, Turkish drones, and Turkish-backed foreign terrorists conducted a premeditated attack that violated international law. The resulting indiscriminate bombing campaigns against large population centers killed thousands of Armenians and displaced tens of thousands more. It also included appalling war crimes against Armenians at the hands of Azerbaijani forces and foreign mercenaries that included beheadings, torture, and other abhorrent acts of violence.
I continue to stand with the Armenian people in condemning the horrific pogroms and in mourning the loss of those who were senselessly killed in Artsakh and subsequent Azeri attacks on Armenian soil. It is critical for the United States to recognize and denounce violent assaults against all civilians. If we do not condemn or punish crimes against humanity and ethnic violence, we become passive bystanders, failing to live up to the lessons of the 20th century and our pledge to uphold human rights and democratic values all over the world. If we do not take a firm stand against those who commit atrocities, it will embolden them and encourage others to commit heinous acts in the future. These lessons are especially important as we prepare to commemorate the 107th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in April.
I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus to honor the victims of the Baku and Sumgait pogroms and the victims of Azerbaijani aggressions in Artsakh, I will also continue to condemn all acts of violence against people who are targeted simply because of who they are. I hope my colleagues will join me in rejecting violent rhetoric, intimidation and outright violations of human rights. In doing so, we renew our commitment to achieving a lasting peace in the Caucasus.
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