The mayors of San Diego and Torrance have rescinded two proclamations whitewashing Azerbaijan’s human rights abuses in response to community outrage and the Armenian National Committee of America–Western Region’s grassroots activism.
The proclamations, issued to mark the occasion of “Azerbaijan’s restoration of independence”, proclaimed Azerbaijan to be an historic beacon of freedom and democracy in the region, as well as a model of “harmonious coexistence” between peoples – a blatant distortion of reality serving only to embolden one of the most authoritarian and repressive regimes on earth, and cover up Baku’s systematic dehumanization and persecution of the region’s indigenous Armenian population.
The ANCA-WR responded immediately by issuing letters directly to the Mayors and Councilmembers calling for a retraction, noting that by issuing these proclamations the Mayors were complicit in obscuring public awareness of Azerbaijan’s genocidal persecution of Armenians and guilty of enabling the tyrannical regime in Baku.
The ANCA-WR also promptly mobilized local Armenian-American communities, who flooded the offices of the Mayors with calls, emails and messages on social media expressing outrage over the proclamations and demanding they be rescinded immediately.
“The retraction of these unconscionable proclamations by the Mayors of San Diego and Torrance is a welcome step toward truth and justice, and is an undeniable testament to the strength of our community’s grassroots advocacy efforts,” remarked Armen Sahakyan, executive director of the ANCA-WR.
According to the Mayors in their respective retraction statements, both proclamations were issued in “administrative error” – having not followed the correct procedure or vetting process. Both also recognized that in light of recent events that issuing the proclamations was inappropriate, and instituted changes to their proclamation approval process so as to ensure such an oversight would not occur again.
“It appears that proclamations like these only happen when no one pays attention to what’s in them – and then when they realize their only purpose is to embolden a genocidal dictatorship, they’re quick to rescind,” Sahakyan continued. “We urge other local councils to remain vigilant in the face of Azerbaijan’s efforts to railroad similar proclamations to enlist local governments in the propagation of dangerous and hateful anti-Armenian propaganda,” Sahakyan continued.
Azerbaijan has long sought to deceive and entrap unwitting local governments into the dissemination of state propaganda. Similar efforts have been undertaken in Boston and Portland, Maine to whitewash Azerbaijan historic persecution of the Armenian people – which dates back to the fledgling Azerbaijani Democratic Republic’s collaboration with Ottoman Empire in the perpetration of the Armenian genocide, including the massacre of 30,000 Armenians in Baku, 20,000 in Shushi, 10,000 in Nakhichevan and the forced displacement of tens of thousands more. These proclamations were also promptly rescinded as a result of the Armenian National Committee of America – Eastern Region’s grassroots advocacy.
“The Azerbaijani government has been shameless and unrelenting in its attempts to propagate its distorted historical narrative and deny its egregious human rights record. Time and again, however, the ANCA and the community writ large have demonstrated that the long arm of the Aliyev dictatorship cannot overcome the strength of our grassroots activism.” Sahakyan concluded.
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