HONORING VICTIMS OF SUMGAIT POGROM; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 36
(Extensions of Remarks - February 27, 2019)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E223]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                          HON. ADAM B. SCHIFF

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                      Wednesday, February 27, 2019

  Mr. SCHIFF. Madam Speaker, I rise to commemorate the 31st anniversary 
of the pogrom against the Armenian residents of the town of Sumgait, 
Azerbaijan. On February 27, 1988, and for three days following, 
Azerbaijani mobs assaulted and killed Armenians. The violence left 
hundreds of Armenian civilians dead and injured, women and girls were 
raped, and some victims were burned alive. Thousands were forced to 
flee their homes, leaving behind their belongings.
   The pogroms came as a direct result of years of vicious, racist 
anti-Armenian propaganda by Azerbaijani authorities, dehumanizing the 
Armenian residents of Azerbaijan and laying the groundwork for mass 
violence. Azerbaijani authorities made little effort to punish those 
responsible, instead attempting to cover up the atrocities in Sumgait 
to this day and denying the government role in instigating the 
killings. Indeed, even today, racist propaganda against Armenia and 
Armenians is prevalent in Azerbaijan.
   The hateful and dangerous Azerbaijani attacks on Armenians is also 
seen in a horrific crime which occurred 15 years ago last week. At a 
NATO sponsored training in Budapest, an Azerbaijani Army officer named 
Ramil Safarov snuck into the room of an Armenian lieutenant, Gurgen 
Margaryan, and hacked him to death with an axe as he slept.
   For this brutal and despicable crime, Safarov was sentenced to life 
imprisonment in Hungary. Yet after a determined campaign by 
Azerbaijan's government, he was extradited to Baku in 2012 where he was 
greeted not as a criminal but as a hero, provided back pay, and 
promoted in rank. There is no more dramatic illustration of 
Azerbaijan's continued posture of hatred and aggression towards their 
Armenian neighbor than their celebration of a cold-blooded murderer.
   The assault on ethnic Armenian civilians in Sumgait helped touch off 
what would become a direct conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan 
which took thousands of lives and dislocated millions more. The 
anniversary of Sumgait is a reminder of the consequences when 
aggression and hatred grow unchecked.
   Madam Speaker, in two months we will mark the 104th Anniversary of 
the Armenian Genocide, an event the Turkish government, Azerbaijan's 
closest ally, goes to great lengths to deny. We must not let such 
crimes against humanity go unrecognized, whether they occurred 
yesterday or 30 years ago or 100 years ago. Today, let us pause to 
remember the victims of the atrocities of the Sumgait pogroms. Madam 
Speaker, it is our moral obligation to condemn crimes of hatred and to 
remember the victims, in hope that history will not be repeated.