September 27, 2023

Whitehouse, Reed, Magaziner, & Colleagues Urge Departments of State and Treasury to Impose Sanctions on Azerbaijan Officials

Bipartisan, bicameral letter calls for accountability amid growing human rights violations in Nagorno-Karabakh

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and U.S. Representatives Seth Magaziner (D-RI), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) have sent a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the Departments of State and Treasury calling for sanctions on individuals in the government of Azerbaijan who are associated with the military attacks against and brutal blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The signatories cited the discretionary authority of the leaders of both agencies under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to hold the perpetrators of the ongoing human rights crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh accountable.

“Azerbaijan has blocked the Lachin Corridor, the only route connecting Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh, depriving some 120,000 Armenians of freedom of movement and access to food, medication, hygiene products, and other commercial goods. The blockade’s effects are particularly acute for at-risk groups, such as children, elderly people, people with disabilities and chronic health conditions, whose access to healthcare services is severely limited or disrupted,” wrote the lawmakers.

“After over nine months of trying to starve out the ethnic Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azerbaijani military launched a full-scale assault on the region on September 19, resulting in a ceasefire and the capitulation of the local government on September 20,” added the lawmakers.  “This attack has exacerbated concerns about the worsening of the humanitarian crisis, and statements from the government of Azerbaijan about ‘re-integration’ raise the specter of ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide.”

“America is a world leader on international human rights and must continue to serve as a mediating force and supporter of peace in the region,” they concluded.

The letter was cosigned by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Fetterman (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Representatives Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Donald Beyer (D-VA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Cori Bush (D-MO), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Jim Costa (D-CA), Danny Davis (D-IL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Charles Fleischmann (R-TN), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), Daniel Goldman (D-NY), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Val Hoyle (D-OR), Jonathan Jackson (D-IL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Daniel Kildee (D-MI), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Greg Landsman (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Susie Lee (D-NV), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Tom McClintock (R-CA), James McGovern (D-MA), Rob Menendez (D-NJ), Grace Meng (D-NY), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Katie Porter (D-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Deborah Ross (D-NC), C. Ruppersberger (D-MD), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Bradley Schneider (D-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Shri Thanedar (D-MI), Dina Titus (D-NV), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Norma Torres (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA), David Trone (D-MD), David Valadao (R-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Susan Wild (D-PA) and Nikema Williams (D-GA).

The text of the letter is below and a PDF is available here.

 

September 26, 2023

Dear Secretaries Blinken and Yellen,

We urge the Departments of State and Treasury to immediately exercise discretionary authority to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (Global Magnitsky Act, Title XII, Subtitle F of P.L. 114-328; 22 U.S.C. §10101 et seq.) on individuals in the government of Azerbaijan associated with the military attacks against and brutal blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh.  These actions represent a gross violation of human rights and the perpetration of violent conflict, which both pose a direct assault on American values and interests.  The perpetrators of these human rights violations must be held to account by the United States. 

Since December 12, 2022, Azerbaijan has blocked the Lachin Corridor, the only route connecting Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh, depriving some 120,000 Armenians of freedom of movement and access to food, medication, hygiene products, and other commercial goods. The blockade’s effects are particularly acute for at-risk groups, such as children, elderly people, people with disabilities and chronic health conditions, whose access to healthcare services is severely limited or disrupted.  Local journalists have reported a rise in miscarriages and premature births due to pregnant women not having access to proper nutrition and prenatal care.  Azerbaijan has also undermined the region’s gas and electricity supply, impacting the functioning of medical and educational institutions and cutting heat as yet another winter approaches.

After over nine months of trying to starve out the ethnic Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azerbaijani military launched a full-scale assault on the region on September 19, resulting in a ceasefire and the capitulation of the local government on September 20. This attack has exacerbated concerns about the worsening of the humanitarian crisis, and statements from the government of Azerbaijan about “re-integration” raise the specter of ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide. Additionally, an explosion at a fuel station killed at least 125 civilians and wounded nearly 300 as thousands of ethnic Armenians fled Nagorno-Karabakh in fear of violence from Azerbaijani forces. This horrific incident tragically underscores the urgent need for humanitarian aid and access.

America is a world leader on international human rights and must continue to serve as a mediating force and supporter of peace in the region.  In order to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions in blockading and assaulting Nagorno-Karabakh, we respectfully request that your departments exercise existing authorities under the Global Magnitsky Act to impose targeted sanctions on the individuals in the Aliyev government that are responsible for or participated in the violation of human rights in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921

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