Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and Council President Paul Krikorian (youtube grab)

LOS ANGELES – Mayor Karen Bass and City Council President Paul Krekorian today sent a letter to President Joe Biden and other federal officials calling for strong U.S. action to end the illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor, to provide humanitarian aid to the suffering people of Artsakh, and extend full diplomatic recognition to the Republic of Artsakh. This letter follows a previous letter sent in January during an escalation of this conflict by the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Read the text of the letter below:

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing once again to call for meaningful American action to bring relief to the besieged people of Artsakh. Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin Corridor threatens 120,000 men, women, and children with death or expulsion from their ancestral homeland. The United States must act to curb Azerbaijan’s continuing acts of aggression against Armenia and the indigenous Armenian people of the Republic of Artsakh.

If the United States does not rise to the defense of the vulnerable Armenian population in their ancient homeland, there is a grave risk of genocide in the region. The dictator of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, has threatened the expulsion or destruction of the indigenous Armenian population from the territory he claims – and his claims extend far beyond the internationally recognized borders of his own country.

In their unprovoked attack on Artsakh in September 2020, Azeri forces destroyed civilian infrastructure and deliberately targeted cultural and historic sites, including churches and a cathedral where civilians sought shelter from bombardment. Azerbaijan has continued to destroy Armenian churches, schools, cemeteries, and monuments with the intent to eradicate the history of the Armenian people in a land where they have lived for thousands of years.

Azerbaijan renewed its attacks on Armenia itself in September 2022, shelling civilian areas, occupying Armenian territory, executing prisoners, and mutilating the bodies of female combatants. Azerbaijan continues to hold Armenian prisoners of war as hostages to this day.

Since we last wrote to you, the indigenous Armenian people of Artsakh are continuing to face a slow death through starvation and the lack of medical care. This unfolding humanitarian catastrophe is the result of a blockade instigated by Azerbaijan, with the support of Russian troops, who are essentially holding the people of Artsakh hostage by siege. This illegal blockade has been in place for nearly six months.

The United States, through Secretary Blinken and Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, has called for an end to this blockade. But these demands must be met with strong actions to secure a lasting peace, particularly when Russia seeks to advance its own anti-Western and anti-democratic regional goals.

The United States must clearly demonstrate its commitment to democracy and global stability by coming to the aid of the people of Artsakh and defending the territorial integrity of Armenia. That immediate and unambiguous response should include the following measures:

The United States must supply immediate humanitarian aid to the people of Artsakh who are now suffering from the illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor imposed by Azerbaijan with the complicity of Russia.

The United States must take real action to end the unlawful blockade of the Lachin Corridor and curb Azeri aggression. The United States must fully enforce Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act without Presidential waiver, and must immediately discontinue all arms transfers to Azerbaijan.

The time has come for the United States to extend full diplomatic recognition to the Republic of Artsakh as an independent democratic state.

We are the executive and legislative leaders of the second-largest city in America, and home to the most significant community of diasporan Armenians in the world. We look forward to receiving your assurance that the United States will not stand idly by while an aggressive dictatorship pursues a genocidal policy against its democratic neighbors.

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