Schiff Resolution Seeks Sanctions against Azerbaijan for Illegally Holding Armenian Prisoners

Schiff Resolution Seeks Sanctions against Azerbaijan for Illegally Holding Armenian Prisoners

— Measure Urges President Biden to Secure Release of Prisoners; Cut All Military Aid to Azerbaijan

 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced legislation today demanding Azerbaijan’s immediate release of Armenian prisoners of war, captured civilians, and political prisoners, including Artsakh government officials illegally detained during Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing last month, reported 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 must immediately and unconditionally release all illegally held Artsakh officials, prisoners of war, and other detainees, not in barter – as part of Baku’s cruel commodification of human suffering – but rather in compliance with its own obligations under international law,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.  “We thank Congressman Schiff for introducing this measure and look forward to working on a bipartisan basis to see this measure adopted on an urgent basis by the full House of Representatives.”

“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 Artsakh civilian and military officials held as political prisoners: former Artsakh presidents Arkadi Ghukasyan, Bako Sahakyan, and Arayik Harutyunyan, former Artsakh Foreign Minister David Babayan, Speaker of Artsakh’s Parliament Davit Ishkhanyan, former Artsakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan, and former Artsakh 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.

The full text of Rep. Schiff’s resolution is available here: