By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Nagorno-Karabakh’s Azerbaijani community has expressed concerns over the visit by U.S. Congress representatives to Azerbaijan’s occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region.
In a letter sent to Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and members of the U.S. Congress on October 14, the community members said that the illegal visit of the US Congress representatives “affects not only democracy, fundamental principles of human rights, peaceful co-existence and international law, but also the situation in the conflict zone and lowers hopes for the conflict settlement.”
"On behalf of IDPs expelled from Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region as a result of the Armenian occupation, we express serious concern and protest over the visit to the occupied Azerbaijani territories by the U.S. Congress representatives Frank Pallone, Judy Chu and Jackie Speier," the letter reads. The visit took place on October 1-8.
The Community noted in their statement that the visit completely contradicts congresswoman Judy Chu’s earlier statement about the desire to be a peacemaker. If she had such a desire, she would not make an illegal visit to Nagorno-Karabakh, the statement reads.
The Community further states that this visit serves to support Armenia’s illegal occupation of the Azerbaijani territories, and the massacres and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis at the hands of Armenians.
"We represent more than 80,000 people of the Azerbaijani community expelled from the Nagorno-Karabakh and more than 700,000 IDPs from surrounding territories. These people continue to suffer amid the negotiations that have resulted in no progress for over the past 25 years. Armenia not only deprives us of the fundamental rights to return to our houses, to visit the graves of our family members; it also pursues a policy aimed at destroying our cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh region and continues to misappropriate our private property," the message reads.
The Community emphasized in the letter that in order to counter this policy and maintain the prospect of the peaceful conflict settlement, the international community has committed itself not to render any assistance to the illegal regime in Nagorno-Karabakh.
"This approach corresponds to the spirit of international law, which is based on the rules supported by the U.S. and its institutions. Unfortunately, the recent visits of the congressmen completely contradicts these obligations and the international law," the community stressed.
"The discriminatory approach to the occupation and the victims cannot promise the peace in the region and well-being to the victims. One cannot build happiness as a result of the violation of the rights of others. Thus, we must not allow such actions and must not support those who commit them," the statement reads.
The Community pointed out that illegal visits to the region help neither the Armenian people or the Armenian community of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region.
"The continuation of the occupation leads to the depletion of resources necessary for the development of Armenia and at the same time to turning the Armenian community of the Nagorno-Karabakh region into a hostage of the illegal military regime created in the occupied Azerbaijani territories...Therefore, such visits misinform the public and lead to the popularization of people and political forces pursuing a policy of discrimination, grossly violating all norms of humanitarian law and human rights, putting forward shameful versions of the superiority of one ethnic group over another,” the statement further reads.
“We know that the visit does not reflect the U.S. official position on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Congressman Pallone admitted that the visit was made in defiance of the State Department's open warning in connection with the trips to the occupied Azerbaijani territories," the letter says.
The Community expressed regret that illegal visits to the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh give reason to say that such visits are made to meet interest of the Armenian Lobby in the United States.
"Making visits to the occupied Azerbaijani territories is not part of the official duties of representatives of the U.S. Congress. Such visits raise serious grounds for believing that there is a personal interest of the Congress representatives. Strong support for pro-Armenian lobbyists and advocacy of illegal visits to the occupied Azerbaijani lands further intensify such suspicions," the message reads.
In the letter, it was reiterated that illegal visits to the occupied Azerbaijani territories and a biased approach to the Azerbaijani society set bad precedence from the moral, legal and political points of view.
As was stressed, the best thing that Congress representatives can do is to take steps to peacefully resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which will ensure the fundamental rights of all the displaced persons and will serve to establish peace and stability. The Community believes this would be a positive example of the activity of the U.S. officials and the triumph of human rights over ongoing discrimination.
"The Azerbaijani community of IDPs tirelessly continues to work to restore peace, co-existence and development of both communities of Nagorno-Karabakh. We thank the U.S. president and other international leaders who support positive work in this sphere and urge everyone who is trying to question it to change their mind," the letter ends.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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