The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is calling upon the Obama Administration to investigate violations of the “Leahy Law” regarding U.S. military assistance to units of the Azerbaijani armed forces that are credibly reported to have committed “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”
An ANCA letter sent on April 11 to President Obama and community appeals directed, via the ANCA website, to Members of Congress raise alarms about Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s major escalation in aggression in terms of the introduction of advanced weapons, the level of fatalities, and the “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” his forces are credibly alleged to have committed against both civilians and soldiers.
According to a press release, the ANCA specifically called upon the President and Members of Congress to “immediately zero-out U.S. military aid to Azerbaijani pending the outcome of a Leahy Law investigation,” and, “subsequent to a determination that Azerbaijani forces have, in fact, violated the terms of U.S. law… to statutorily prohibit all military aid to Baku and to take effective measures to bring the responsible members of Azerbaijan’s security forces to justice.”
The ANCA letter also asked U.S. officials to recall that “the Azerbaijani government has yet to bring to justice Ramil Safarov, who, in 2004, axe-murdered Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan while he was asleep at a NATO Partnership for Peace peacekeeping training program in Hungary. Rather than supporting efforts to punish this admitted killer, President Aliyev secured Safarov’s transfer from a Hungarian prison and then brought him home to Baku, where he was pardoned, given a parade, promoted in rank, and given back pay.”
Credible reports of atrocities committed by Aliyev’s forces against civilians and Karabakh defense forces during the April 2-7 Azerbaijani attack on Nagorno-Karabakh republic are now emerging – including the execution and mutilation of an elderly couple in the village of Talish and the beheading of three Armenian soldiers.
President Aliyev’s military annually receives millions of dollars in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET) appropriations, and, as such, is subject to Congressional oversight to ensure compliance with U.S. law (including the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and recurring provisions of annual Department of Defense appropriations).
The “Leahy Law”, first introduced in 1997, prohibits the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity. In keeping with core American values, these laws help ensure that our U.S. tax dollars are not used by units or individuals of foreign armed units or security forces to commit human rights abuses and war crimes.