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Why Do Two Hawaii Lawmakers Care So Much About Azerbaijan?

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#1 Yervant1


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Posted 13 February 2014 - 10:17 AM

Thursday, February 13th, 2014


Why Do Two Hawaii Lawmakers Care So Much About Azerbaijan?

By Nathan Eagle


Nicolas Raymond via Flickr

Azerbaijan flag

Hawaii lawmakers are inserting themselves into a century-old conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, neighboring nations nestled between the Black and Caspian seas at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe.

Reps. Rida Cabanilla and Mark Takai, who traveled to Azerbaijan together last year on an $8,000 trip that was paid for by the republic, have co-sponsored legislation that’s been set for a hearing Wednesday.

  • House Resolution 13 recognizes the 22nd anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy which, according to the resolution, involved the slaughter of hundreds of innocent civilians in Azerbaijan in February 1992.

  • House Resolution 9 calls on the United States to strengthen its efforts to facilitate a political settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.


The first resolution describes the tragedy like this: On Feb. 25 and 26, 1992, "Armenian armed forces accompanied by Russian military troops occupied the town of Khojaly in Azerbaijan and killed more than six hundred innocent civilians, including many women, children and the elderly; wounded more than one thousand civilians; and captured more than one thousand two hundred civilians."

Armenian-Americans and other critics are concerned the two lawmakers are trying to rewrite history in favor of Azerbaijan.

“It is hard to see how a resolution that distorts history and contemporary reality in so many ways serves Hawaii’s interests,” Honolulu resident Dawn Webster wrote in her testimony on HR 9.

Webster said she grew interested in the resolutions after talking to her Armenian daughter-in-law, Ani Martirosian Menon.

“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,” Webster said.

“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 ill-advised and certainly at odds with Hawaii’s culture of aloha.”

Cabanilla and Takai went to Azerbaijan in May to attend a convention sponsored by oil companies and look for opportunities to promote Hawaii.

Civil Beat reported on the trip after discovering details in gift disclosure statements the representatives filed with the Ethics Commission.

Takai said at the time that the trip was ethical because the Legislature was not addressing relevant issues that would directly benefit Azerbaijan. He did not return a message seeking comment on the resolutions Monday.

Cabanilla said the invitation by Azerbaijan came as part of a lobbying effort to improve the oil-rich nation's alliance with the U.S. She said she took the trip to try to bring business to Hawaii.

The resolutions came from Elin Suleymano, Azerbaijan's ambassador to the United States, she said.

Cabanilla, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, said her military background has taught her the importance of Azerbaijan as a strategic location for a U.S. ally in the Middle East. She considers the resolutions to be a harmless form of gratitude and recognition.

"Maybe (the resolution) is not 100 percent accurate — I don’t know if it is or not — but the fact that they’re an ally and support our troops (in the region), they don’t have to say anything more after that," Cabanilla said, explaining her decision to introduce the legislation.

If Azerbaijan has lobbied to gain recognition for a version of history, it is in some ways following in the footsteps of Armenia. Ethnic Armenian communities in the United States, Australia, France, the United Kingdom and many other countries have lobbied national governments to gain recognition of the "Armenian genocide" by Turkey in the early 20th century. Authorities in Turkey continue to deny that killings and the seizure of Armenian land during the Ottoman Empire constituted a genocide.

House Resolution 13 describes the Khojaly massacre in Azerbaijan as a “sobering reminder of the terrible carnage that can be inflicted in wartime and it exemplifies the enduring need for greater understanding, communication, and tolerance among people worldwide.”

The resolutions are set to have their first hearing Wednesday morning before the Veterans, Military and International Affairs Committee, which Takai chairs.

Read Webster's testimony on the resolutions here:


#2 Yervant1


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Posted 13 February 2014 - 10:18 AM


Wednesday, February 12th, 2014


Hawaii Rejects Azeri Lies


Key Committee Blocks Baku’s Bid to Secure Adoption of Anti-Armenian Measures
HONOLULU—The Hawaii legislature on Wednesday publicly debated and then rejected a pair of Azerbaijan-initiated anti-Armenian measures, dealing a high-profile setback to Baku’s well-funded effort to enlist U.S. state legislatures in its increasingly aggressive campaign against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, reported the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region.



Ani Martirosian

“We want to thank Aloha State legislators, long known for their commitment to tolerance and human rights, for their wisdom in blocking Baku’s efforts to manipulate Hawaii and take advantage of the good name of her citizens,” said Elen Asatryan. “Today’s vote sends a powerful signal that Azerbaijan’s corrupt and undemocratic President Ilham Aliyev – despite all the millions he’s spending on ‘caviar diplomacy’- doesn’t get a vote here in America and certainly doesn’t deserve the right to buy influence in the U.S. government.”


The Hawaii House of Representatives Committee on Veterans, Military, & International Affairs, & Culture and the Arts rejected the two anti-Armenian resolutions during their committee hearing earlier today at the State Capitol, despite the ardent efforts of Committee Chairman Mark Takei, who was an author of the bills. Both profoundly biased and factually flawed measures were reportedly introduced at the bequest of the Azerbaijani government, a major breach of diplomatic protocol, confirmed publicly by State Rep. Rida Cabanilla, who was quoted in “Civil Beat,” a Hawaii publication, as saying that: “The resolutions came from Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the United States.”

“Civil Beat” further reported that Hawaiians looking for the reasoning behind the introduction of such unlikely resolutions in the State of Hawaii may look trips taken to Baku last May by Reps. Cabanilla and Chairman Takai, who joined more than 300 others from the U.S. at the U.S.-Azerbaijan Convention, courtesy of the Republic of Azerbaijan which spent nearly $8,000 for the two legislators’ visit.

When he was questioned about the trip last summer, Chairman Takai said, “There’s nothing in the Legislature now that would directly benefit Azerbaijan, so it passes the ethics concern.” This contention was clearly unfounded, as the measures under consideration today clearly would have, if passed, directly benefited Azerbaijan.


Despite the resources expended on the measure by the Azerbaijani government, the most persuasive voices of the day belonged to three members of the local Armenian American community, including: Arpine Philian Mar, an 82 year-old retiree, Arthur Martirosian, and Ani Martirosian, an active community leader who was instrumental in organizing her fellow citizens to speak out on these measures.

Following the hearing, during which she had delivered a compelling, comprehensive, and persuasive argument before the Committee, Ani Martirosian said, “I’d like this to be an example for all Armenians – and other underrepresented groups – around the world that our voices do matter. We must stay vigilant to recognize the attempts made to falsify our history, and we need to then take peaceful and meaningful action to counter with the truth. Today was a win for not only us Armenians, but others who are in the minority. For the people, by the people – this is the way our legislative process should work. Let the truth prevail.”

They were joined by a self-identified neutral, Dr. Alexander Telnov, who spoke in a very balanced and forceful way in opposition of the resolutions. “The spirit of ‘aloha’ that we carry throughout the world is completely foreign to Azerbaijan,” argued Telnov, who went on to detail the high levels of corruption within the Aliyev regime.

Noting that the Azerbaijani government spends millions for political lobbying in the United States, while Armenia spends none, he went on to query, “Why do you need to spend so much money to prove your point? That’s because your point is not credible. That’s because the opinions Azerbaijan is trying to instill in the United States and other countries are distortions and untruths.”

At the beginning of the hearing, Chairman Takai appeared confident about the passage of both resolutions. However, after the Committee members took a break to privately discuss the pending legislation, Takai conceded that H.R. 13 would be deferred (not passed). The committee Chairman had unsuccessfully suggested to his fellow committee members that in light of the fact that Hawaii had adopted an Armenia-Hawaii friendship resolution in 2012 and an Armenian Genocide commemoration resolution in 2009, the pro-Azeri resolutions should also be adopted in order to be impartial. Moments later, the Chairman announced that they had also decided to defer H.R. 9.

In the days leading up to the Committee hearing, hundreds had submitted letters and testimony opposing both pieces of legislation, including the ANCA Western Region.

ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian issued an open letter to all U.S. state legislatures earlier this week urging them to take as stand against foreign interference in American civic life by corrupt Azerbaijani dictator Ilham Aliyev. “It is truly a tribute to our great American democratic tradition that even a regime as flagrantly corrupt as Ilham Aliyev’s is allowed to operate freely within our open society, ” explained Hamparian. “But that does not mean that American citizens need to remain silent in the face of meddling by foreign leaders who neither respect our rights nor share our values –especially when they try to export their intolerance to our shores.”

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.

#3 Yervant1


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Posted 13 February 2014 - 10:20 AM

Edited by Yervant1, 13 February 2014 - 10:21 AM.

#4 Yervant1


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Posted 15 February 2014 - 10:30 AM


Honolulu Civil Beat, Hawaii
Feb 13 2014

Despite testimony six-to-one in support, Hawaii Rep. Mark Takai had
to shelve two House resolutions today that he and Rep. Rida Cabanilla
introduced at the behest of the Azerbaijan ambassador.

Dozens of people from around the mainland submitted the same
boilerplate statement calling on the Veterans, Military and
International Affairs Committee, which Takai chairs, to pass House
Resolution 9.

The legislation urges President Obama to strengthen his
administration's efforts to facilitate a political settlement to
the decades-old Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. But
critics say the language in the reso rewrites the history between
the neighboring nations.

Roughly 20 people submitted testimony against the resolution, compared
to some 120 for it. There were 256 pages of testimony in all, quite a
bit for a mere resolution that doesn't carry the full weight of a law.

Regardless the interest, a majority of the committee couldn't get
behind it.

The committee deferred HR 9 and House Resolution 13, which recognizes
the 22nd anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy. The language in HR 13
drew similar opposition from Armenian-Americans and others who felt
it was rewriting history.


#5 Yervant1


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Posted 10 April 2014 - 10:26 AM


19:28 09/04/2014 >> REGION

A few days ago Azerbaijani websites excitedly reported good
news: On March 28 House of Representatives of the state of Hawaii
adopted a resolution, which "supports the territorial integrity of
Azerbaijan and international recognition of Karabakh as a territory
of Azerbaijani Republic". However, there was no reference to the
website of legislature of Hawaii that would prove "the adoption of
the resolution by the Parliament". There was no reference and could
not be any in those reports of Azerbaijani media, it is stated in the
article by Marine Grigoryan published in the newspaper Golos Armenii.

It is noted that the news was released with reference to the Press
Service of Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles, while
the resolution, as it is reported, was solemnly presented to Consul
General of Azerbaijan Nasimi Aghayev.

According to the article, since early 2014 the "caviar diplomacy"
of Baku has crushed in already 4 states of U.S.: On February and
March one after other anti-Armenian resolutions were rejected by
the House of Representatives of the state of Hawaii, South Dakota,
Wyoming and Tennessee.

"Four such sensitive blows with intervals of one or two weeks,
probably, were not only very painful for Azerbaijan but as well
put the careers of Azerbaijani ambassador to U.S. Elin Suleymanov
and Consul General of Los Angeles Nasimi Aghayev at risk. Perhaps,
those fears spurred the diplomats to resort to primitive lies and
deceit towards their unsuspecting fellows by presenting "Sensation"
of the adoption of the resolution in Hawaii. They strengthened it
with the photos of triumphant Consul and by the useless scrap of
paper with the signatures of several legislatures," the article reads.

Meanwhile, as the author states, "to reveal the deception of
the liars- diplomats, one can simply go to the website of
the legislature of Hawaii, where everything is presented
very clearly and is even available for the consumers
of Azerbaijani lies." For example, if you follow this link
you can clearly see that in the March 28 agenda of the House of
Representatives there was not even a hint about the hearing of
Azerbaijani resolution.

"However, on the agenda of 12 February there is a resolution submitted
by the chairman of Veterans Committee on Foreign Affairs, Culture
and Education Marco Takaya and the representative of the House Rida
Cabanilla. As it was reported by the newspaper Asbarez, these two
figures visited Baku in May of 2013 and immediately after that issued
two resolutions: HR13 - on "recognition of the 22th anniversary of
the tragedy in Khojalu" and HR9, calling on the U.S. administration
to "make an extra effort for political settlement of the Armenian-
Azerbaijani Nagorno Karabakh conflict." Needless to say that both
documents are not only full of anti-Armenian rhetoric but also grossly
distort the realities of the conflict," Golos Armenii reports.

On February 12 the resolutions were put on agenda
of hearings and both of them were rejected. One
can easily find out about that by following the links
There is no other mention of Azerbaijan in the website of Legislature
of the state of Hawaii, including allegedly adopted March 28

The photo of the document with the signatures of legislatures released
in the websites is nothing more than a certificate signed by several
members of the House of Representatives.

According to the regulations of U.S. legislatures, this document is
not included in the agenda for a vote and is not even included in
the record of the hearing as it is merely a personal initiative of
individual legislatures.

"This kind of "documents" can be adopted by dozens in a year, by
bribing 3-4 Representatives of the House in each state, and then
solemnly demonstrating the fruits of the "effective" work done by the
embassy and the Consulate General. Most likely, the adoption of such
certificates is all the "caviar diplomacy" of Azerbaijan is capable
of nowadays in U.S, as it is capitulated by the joint efforts of the
Armenian lobby organizations, the embassy of RA and the representation
of NKR in U.S. And in order to justify the embezzlement of millions of
petrodollars Suleymanov and Aghayev are forced to resort to blatant
lies, scattering smiles to the cameras hoping that the smug face of
the Consul General is able to replace the reference to a reliable
source," the author notes.

However, as the newspaper emphasizes, Baku's such kind of activities
in the legislatures of American states have also positive aspect
for Armenia.

"Initiation of resolutions by the bribed lawmakers gives an opportunity
to Armenian lobbyists and members of Armenian community to oppose
those steps in each state of U.S. The author of these lines personally
witnessed how in the state of Tennessee dozens of Armenians, former
refugees from Baku, previously not distinguished by active engagement
in political life of the state, together with the representatives
of ANCA (American Committee "Hay Dat" - Ed.) struggled against the
adoption of anti-Armenian resolution and forced its author to withdraw
the document from the agenda before the voting process.

Not less and perhaps more important is the fact that the discussion
of the draft resolutions gives Armenian side a chance to present
the true facts and realities about the events of the past as well
as current events. To see this, it is enough to get acquainted with
the protocol of hearings around the rejected resolution on "Khojalu
events" in the same state of Hawaii," the article reads.

Meanwhile, according to the article, the embassy of Azerbaijan has
already swung New Jersey, where positions of Armenian lobbyists
are traditionally very strong. Another anti-Armenian resolution
has been presented in the House of Representatives of the State (as
well as Missouri). It can be assumed that the Azerbaijanis want to
make use of Armenian organization's concentration on Kessab events,
however even in that case the representatives of "caviar diplomacy",
according to the observers, have little chance to succeed.

"Nevertheless, now the subordinates of Mammedyarov always have the
option of certificate with signatures of corrupt lawmakers as a spare
option, which in extreme cases can be presented as a resolution,
especially if the forced smile of poor consul is added to it," the
author concludes.


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