California State Assembly Recognizes Artsakh’s Independence -
Landslide 70 to 1 Victory Reaffirms California State Assembly’s Commitment to Democratic Self-Determination, Calls for U.S. Recognition of Karabakh’s Independence
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The California State Assembly, in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, on Thursday called for U.S. recognition of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, marking a major milestone in the growing American movement supporting the national and democratic aspirations of the citizens of this independent and historically Armenian country, reported the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR).
The historic vote specifically voiced encouragement for Artsakh’s (Nagorno Karabagh) continuing efforts to develop as a free and independent nation, and formally called upon the President and Congress of the United States to support the self-determination and democratic independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. AJR 32 was adopted by a vote of 70 to 1, and will now move to the California State Senate for consideration. Earlier this week, AJR 32 was adopted by the State Assembly Rules Committee by a vote of 9-1.
“Today the people of California, through a nearly unanimous vote by their elected representatives in the State Assembly, stood on the side of freedom and independence for the people of Artsakh. We were extremely proud and gratified to work so closely with Speaker John A. Perez and Assemblymembers Mike Gatto, Katcho Achadjian, Adrin Nazarian, and Scott Wilk in achieving this great victory, and we thank each and every one of them for leading this effort. We look forward to a similar victory in the State Senate, as the ANCA WR continues its day to day efforts in pursuit of every aspect of the Armenian Cause,” stated ANCA WR Chair, Nora Hovsepian who had provided compelling oral testimony during the committee hearing held on Monday, May 5, 2014.
“Today’s overwhelming vote puts the California State Assembly on record in support of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and reaffirms our unwavering commitment to freedom and self-determination for all peoples,” noted Assembly Speaker John A. Perez.
AJR 32 lead author, Assemblymember Gatto introduced the resolution on the floor providing historical background; noting the importance of supporting the self-determination and independence of Artsakh. Co-Author Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian (R-CA), Assemblymembers Ian Calderon (D-CA), Tom Daly (D-CA) Adrin Nazarian (D-CA), Scott Wilk (R-CA) and Cheryl Brown (D-CA) joined Gatto in urging their colleagues to support the resolution, each providing heavy.
“Just last month, we worked so hard to make this resolution move forward, and we are so proud today that the California State house stood with me in support of the people of Artsakh in their ongoing quest for freedom, democracy and independence,” stated Assemblymember Gatto.
California is home to tens of thousands of Armenian-Americans who are refugees of pogroms against Armenians in Sumgait (1988), Kirovabad (1988), and Baku (1990), and the ethnic-cleansing of the Armenian population of Azerbaijan. Dozens of refugees from the region, many from the Shahumian district of Artsakh, were present for the historic vote.
Alena Nalbandyan, who lived in Shahumian until the Azerbaijani military assault against Armenian civilians, provided personal testimony during the hearing which resonated with the committee members. “It was very gratifying to be able to share my experience with the members of the State Legislature. Today’s vote represents a validation of the demand for self-determination by all Armenians from Arstakh.”
“This resolution represents a major step in the recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as an independent nation. I would especially like to thank my colleague Assemblymember Gatto for bringing this issue before the Assembly for debate. I am proud the state of California has taken a stance to support NKR’s pursuit of liberty and freedom,” stated Co-Author of AJR 32, Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian.
Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian said, “Today’s historical vote on AJR 32 demonstrated the Legislature’s will to accurately recognize truth in the face of false adversity. I commend my colleagues for standing on the side of truth, freedom, and democracy. Their solidarity with the people of Artsakh speaks volumes about the progress they have made in their path for self-determination, and their goal for recognition as an independent state.”
“It is a special day for Artsakh. As we are preparing to celebrate a triple holiday in Artsakh – the liberation of Shushi, formation of the NKR defense army and victory in WW2, we now have another significant reason to celebrate, which is the support of Artsakh’s freedom and sovereign democracy by one of the strongest states of the United States,” commented Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic to the United States Robert Avetisyan. “We want to thank the California State Assembly for supporting us and our aspiration for freedom and everyone who made this day possible. This decision by the State Assembly of the State of California reiterates that the human rights and liberties are the prevailing values in this world and it only reinforces our determination to move forward and develop as an open and democratic society,” added Avetisyan.
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) worked closely with Speaker Perez’s office as well as the author, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, Co-Author Katcho Achadjian, and Assemblymembers Adrin Nazarian and Scott Wilk to garner support for the resolution. In weeks and days leading up to the vote, the ANCA WR also activated its grassroots in sending letters and making calls to elected officials, urging them to support AJR 32.
“California has always been at the forefront of global human rights issues, leading America and the world on everything from ending Apartheid to, now, supporting democracy and self-determination for the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh,” states ANCA-WR Executive Director, Elen Asatryan. “As Americans we cherish our own liberty and support the right of all peoples to live in freedom and under governments of their own choosing. The people of Nagorno Karabakh deserve nothing less, ” added Asatryan.
Upon passage by the State Senate, California will join Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and Louisiana in adopting legislation which supports the independence of Artsakh.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.