WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Vice-Chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, submitted a statement to the Congressional Record honoring the lives of those lost in the pogrom thirty years ago.
Schiff’s full statement is below:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the 30th 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 belonging.
“The pogroms came about as the result of years of vicious, racist anti-Armenian propaganda by Azerbaijani authorities, dehumanizing Armenians. Azerbaijan 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 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.
“Mr. Speaker, this April we will mark the 103rd 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. Mr. Speaker, it is our moral obligation to condemn crimes of hatred and to remember the victims, in hope that history will not be repeated.”