November 10, 2023 - 13:19 AMT
New Congress bill seeks sanctions against Azerbaijan

U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has introduced legislation demanding Azerbaijan’s immediate release of Armenian prisoners of war, captured civilians, and political prisoners, including Nagorno-Karabakh government officials illegally detained during Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing last month, reports the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The resolution specifically calls on the Biden Administration to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act on Azerbaijani government officials responsible for the illegal detention, torture, and extrajudicial killing of Armenian POWs. It also reiterates Congressional calls for the enforcement of Section 907 restrictions on U.S. military and security assistance to Azerbaijan.

“Azerbaijan is already guilty of grave atrocities committed during the recent war, and the continued illegal detention of Armenians compounds the problem. Azerbaijan’s treatment of these prisoners, including torture and killings, is heartbreaking and a direct threat to international law and order,” said Rep. Schiff. “My resolution urges the American government and international community to stand up to these gross human rights violations being perpetuated against the Armenian community by the Aliyev regime and return these prisoners back to their families.”

The resolution condemns Azerbaijan’s illegal detention of Nagorno-Karabakh civilian and military officials held as political prisoners: former Nagorno-Karabakh presidents Arkadi Ghukasyan, Bako Sahakyan, and Arayik Harutyunyan, former Nagorno-Karabakh Foreign Minister David Babayan, Speaker of Nagorno-Karabakh Parliament Davit Ishkhanyan, former Nagorno-Karabakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan, and former Nagorno-Karabakh military commanders Levon Mnatsakanyan and David Manukyan.

Rep. Schiff’s resolution builds on similar legislation he and the Congressional Armenian Caucus led in 2021 (H.Res.240), which garnered broad bi-partisan support. The resolution’s call for U.S. sanctions on Azerbaijani leaders and enforcement of Section 907 restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan echoes bipartisan legislation (H.Res.108 / H.R.5683) and multiple Congressional letters to the Biden Administration which has garnered the support of over 100 Congressional leaders.