Dawn Webster Testimony House Resolutions 9 and 13


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Dawn Webster's February 2014 testimony on House Resolutions 9 and 13.

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Dawn Webster Testimony House Resolutions 9 and 13

  1. 1. Written Statement of Dawn Morais Webster Ph.D. HOUSE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS, MILITARY, & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, & CULTURE AND THE ARTS February 12, 2014, 8:30AM State Capitol, Conference Room 312 IN OPPOSITION TO: H.R. NO. 13 Recognizing February 26, 2014, as the 22nd Anniversary of the Khojaly Tragedy in Azerbaijan. To: Re: Chair Takai, Vice Chair Ito, and Members of the Committee Testimony in Opposition to H.R. NO. 13 Aloha Honorable Chair, Vice-Chair, and Committee Members: Thank you for the opportunity to submit the following comments reflecting my strong opposition to H.R. NO. 13. I am very puzzled as to why taxpayer dollars are being spent on a misleading resolution of this nature when Hawaii has so many of its own issues to contend with. Thanks to my Armenian daughter-in-law, Ani Martirosian Menon, I have come to learn that the statements offered within this resolution are one-sided, out-of-context, and attempt to manipulate historic fact in favor of the true aggressor of the Nagorno-Karabakh War, Azerbaijan. The Khojaly tragedy was the unfortunate consequence of a horrific war started by Azerbaijan against the civilian population of the independent republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. This conflict was initiated by Azerbaijan in response to the peaceful demands of the people of Karabakh for the right to self-determination. Azerbaijan’s response to this peaceful referendum was to indiscriminately massacre the Armenian population in Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad, and elsewhere from February 1988 through 1991. These massacres, during which I am told thousands of Armenians were maimed, raped, mutilated, and killed as Azerbaijani police stood by and watched, created over 500,000 Armenian refugees (many orphaned). The Armenian people have carried with them the memory of too many accounts of the rape of their women, the killing of newborn Armenian babies and the mutilation and torture of Armenian men. This resolution adds to the pain of that history. My understanding is that Azerbaijan was the aggressor in Khojaly. Starting 1991, Stepanakert (Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital city) and adjacent Armenian communities sustained daily massive artillery fire by Azerbaijani forces. The shelling of the NKR cities was carried out using “Alazan” and “Kristal” combat rocket launchers, as well as BM-21 ‘Grad’ Multiple Launcher Rocket System vehicles, the use of which is prohibited against civilians. In 1992, while
  2. 2. heavy artillery fire continued, Azerbaijan blockaded all routes to the independent republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. The region and its people were left without fuel, electricity, water, and food supplies. Khojaly, the location of Nagorno-Karabakh’s sole airport, was one of six positions used in the months-long offensive by Azerbaijan. The only way of saving the inhabitants from being wiped out by the cold and hunger was to launch a military operation to bring an end to the siege and heavy artillery fire. The Armenians chose to defend themselves despite being outnumbered and despite not having the kind of military weaponry of the Azerbaijani forces. Oil-rich Azerbaijan has refused to negotiate a settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and has repeatedly violated the cease-fire order by the U.N. Security Council. It has also orchestrated extensive worldwide communications and lobbying efforts that have ensured that history is told from their perspective. Armenia has not had the resources that Azerbaijan has had to amplify its side of the story in the same way. But its people are determined to speak out wherever their history is misrepresented as this resolution here in Hawaii seems to do. I ask that you please vote in opposition to this resolution. It is unseemly for Hawaii, given its own history, to participate in the possible misrepresentation of documented historic fact as to what happened in Khojaly and aid in the public reinvention of one party’s role. Dawn Morais Webster Ph.D. 2
  3. 3. Written Statement of Dawn Morais Webster HOUSE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS, MILITARY, & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, & CULTURE AND THE ARTS February 12, 2014, 8:30AM State Capitol, Conference Room 312 IN OPPOSITION TO: H.R. NO. 9 To: Re: Urging the Administration of the United States to strengthen its efforts to facilitate a political settlement to the Armenia-Azerbaijan NagornoKarabakh Conflict. Chair Takai, Vice Chair Ito, and Members of the Committee Testimony in Opposition to H.R. NO. 9 Aloha Honorable Chair, Vice-Chair, and Committee Members: I write to voice my strong opposition to H.R. NO. 9. I have become somewhat familiar with Armenia’s troubled history of dispossession and oppression through Ani Martirosian Menon, the very bright young Armenian woman my son recently married. That family connection has made me sensitive to the inappropriateness of this rather strange resolution and the likelihood that it will be used to strengthen a false representation of historical facts about the relationship between Azerbaijan and Armenia. It is my understanding that the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, the Minsk Group, and other international bodies including Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh themselves have been attempting to negotiate a settlement to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan has continuously rejected any settlement or negotiation. Yet this resolution falsely casts Azerbaijan in the role of mediator and facilitator of a settlement. It is worth noting that since 1998, the United States has been rendering official assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh to help overcome the consequences of the devastating aggression by Azerbaijan. This resolution also refers to Azerbaijan’s partnership and cooperation with the United States to fight against international terrorism. This flies in the face of the fact that during the Karabakh war, between 1993 and 1994, Azerbaijan used its connections with Islamic terrorist networks to hire thousands of Afghan mujahideens and other Islamic mercenaries linked to various international terrorist organizations to fight against Armenia and Karabakh. http://www.un.org/documents/ga/docs/50/plenary/a50-390add1.htm 3
  4. 4. This resolution makes reference to Azerbaijan’s rapidly growing economy as an asset to the United States. In reality, Transparency International notes that despite its massive oil resources, “Azerbaijan is plagued by endemic corruption that prevents ordinary Azerbaijanis from sharing in their country’s natural wealth and is a significant barrier to Azerbaijan’s development.” This resolution mentions the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project initiated by Azerbaijan as contributing to the prosperity of Azerbaijan and the United States’ regional allies. In reality, both the United States and the European Union have refused to fund the project. In fact, in 2005 and 2006, the US Congress adopted the “South Caucasus Integration and Open Railroads Act” that prohibited United States’ assistance to the BTK railroad because “the proposed railroad specifically bypasses Armenia and serves to isolate Armenia from East-West commercial corridors.” It is hard to see how a resolution that distorts history and contemporary reality in so many ways serves Hawaii’s interests. Given the islands’ own history of dispossession and occupation and the ongoing struggle for sovereignty by Native Hawaiians, the resolution is at the very least illadvised and certainly at odds with Hawaii’s culture of aloha. Please do not proceed with this resolution. At best, it will do nothing to help achieve lasting peace and security in the region. At worst, it can, and will be used to rewrite history and deepen old wrongs. Thank you. Dawn Morais Webster Ph.D. 1, Keahole Place #3501 Honolulu Hawaii 96825. dmoraiswebster@gmail.com 4