By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Given the joyful spirit of the holiday season, I wanted to dedicate my article to a cheerful subject. However, when I saw the text of the bizarre Resolution submitted to Azerbaijan’s Parliament on Christmas Eve, I knew that I could not pick a more disgustingly amusing topic.
The proposed Azeri bill is in response to the U.S. House Resolution 4264 (Azerbaijan Democracy Act of 2015) introduced by Helsinki Commission Chair Cong. Chris Smith (R-NJ) on December 16, calling for denial of U.S. entry visas to Azerbaijan’s leaders, their business partners, as well as security, law enforcement, and judicial officials. The Resolution also demands the curtailment of U.S. economic and energy projects with Azerbaijan.
Cong. Smith criticized Azerbaijan’s government for jailing journalists, opposition leaders and human rights activists, holding fraudulent elections, and violating rights of religious minorities.
To counter Cong. Smith’s initiative, Rovshan Rzayev, Deputy Chair of Azerbaijan’s Parliamentary Committee on Legal Policy, fearlessly rushed to propose a counter-Resolution on December 24 that would:
1) Refuse entry to Azerbaijan of: U.S. officials and family members; Senators and House members involved in discrediting Azerbaijan; politicians cooperating with Armenian Diaspora organizations; journalists, representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations, and experts conducting a “smear campaign against Azerbaijan”; Americans who have earned “huge funds as a result of their collaboration with U.S. authorities”; politicians elected “with the support of the Armenian Diaspora” and lobbying groups; persons involved in fraud in U.S. elections; and finally, those “opposing U.S. ratification of international human rights treaties”!
2) Break all business ties between Azerbaijani and American companies;
3) Ban U.S. Non-Governmental Organizations from implementing programs in Azerbaijan and close down their bank accounts; terminate activities in Azerbaijan of NGOs funded by the U.S. government and Congress; end all “cooperation with the United States in the fields of trade, energy, military and security;” withdraw Azeri troops from joint military operations in Afghanistan; prohibit transit of American military and civilian goods through Azerbaijan; and remove the U.S. co-chair from the Minsk Group of mediators on Nagorno Karabagh.
Incredibly, the proposed Azeri Resolution orders the United States to make substantial improvements and changes in the following areas before Azerbaijan would lift its sanctions:
1) Violations of human rights; racial and religious discrimination; manifestations of xenophobia and Islamophobia; and inhuman treatment of prisoners;
2) Disproportionate use of force against protesters;
3) Restrictions of freedom of speech and press, and violation of the privacy of U.S. citizens;
4) Corruption and lobbying activities;
5) Widespread electoral fraud;
6) Interference in the internal affairs of foreign countries;
7) Slander and smear campaigns against the Republic of Azerbaijan;
8) Unambiguous position on “the Nagorno Karabagh conflict in compliance with international law, sanctions on the aggressor country [Armenia], and no ties with the separatist regime of Nagorno Karabagh.”
The lengthy text of the proposed Azeri resolution accuses the United States government of scores of violations, such as:
1) Refusal to ratify 12 out of 16 United Nations human rights treaties;
2) Growing racial and religious discrimination, xenophobia and Islamophobia: “Some 50% of the people are shot by the police; 70% of those arrested and killed in New York are black; and one third of the black people between the ages of 20-29 are in prison”;
3) Genocide against the indigenous people of the United States, resulting in the killing of “more than three million American Indians”;
4) Importing “more than 12 million slaves” from Africa;
5) Violations of the freedom of expression and press; illegal interference by the intelligence agencies in the people’s private lives; widespread bugging and persecution; and “police attacks and arrests of journalists have become an everyday occurrence in the United States”;
6) “Legal corruption and lobbying”: In the first months of 2015 alone, 2,320 criminal cases on charges of bribery were filed against officials at various levels;
7) Widespread fraud in U.S. elections;
8) “Interference in the internal affairs of independent states on the pretext of fighting terrorism and establishing democracy;”
9) Support for “separatist regimes,” such as Nagorno Karabagh.
There is no question that the United States is not a perfect democracy, but to have the parliament of one of the most corrupt and despotic regimes in the world criticize the American Government and its shortcomings is totally ridiculous and outrageous!
Since Azerbaijan needs the U.S. far more than the U.S. needs Azerbaijan, we hope Azerbaijan’s Parliament will quickly adopt the proposed Resolution and cut off all ties with the United States. Good riddance! Americans would then have a better reason to celebrate the New Year!