When I moved to California in 2006, I thought I left behind the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and the horrors of my youth. However, in May, with this conflict and the delicate international affairs surrounding it, the state Assembly passed Assembly Joint Resolution 32. I was stunned.
This vote serves to exacerbate ethnic tensions and does nothing to bring conciliation to the variety of communities trying to co-exist in their new home in America. Now, as I watch the sectarian violence in Iraq, I can't help but speak out on the need for the international community to be impartial and to allow sovereign nations to handle their own conflicts.
I am a member of the Azerbaijani community in California, and I was personally affected by the conflict that is addressed in AJR 32, which seeks recognition of "independence" for the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
Before 1988, my family was one of the hundreds living in a region of Armenia called Amasiya that mainly consisted of ethnic Azerbaijanis. My family had a long history in the region and was respected in the community. We lived a very peaceful life. Our people never imagined the day when we would be forced to abandon our homes and lose our livelihoods. But the Armenians, whom we called neighbors for many years, suddenly became aggressive and hostile, demanding that we leave our homes and everything we had ever known.
I was very little, about a year old, when the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict took place; it was early 1988, and thousands of Azerbaijanis were forced out of their villages. I remember my grandmother telling me stories about how our family and friends were subject to mass beatings and brutal aggression by local Armenians. It was a terrible period, when thousands of Azerbaijani women, children and elderly had to flee, often to remote and undeveloped regions of Azerbaijan.
The worst fate fell on those who were living in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and seven adjacent regions. With the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia occupied these regions and installed a "republic." In this conflict, 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and about a million became refugees as a result of the brutal occupation and ethnic cleansing by Armenia.
Now heavily influenced by the Armenian lobby, California legislators, through AJR 32, are considering recognizing this region as a "republic" rather than as part of Azerbaijan, a step that would contradict the will of much of the international community and official U.S. foreign policy.
The Armenian lobby is trying to make the world forget about the illegal military occupation and have the fake regime in Nagorno-Karabakh recognized by one of the largest states in the United States.
So far, it's working. AJR 32 was approved by the Assembly on a 72-1 vote and is now before the Senate Rules Committee.
I strongly hope that the Senate does not fall victim to the lies and deceit of the Armenian lobby and allows foreign conflicts to remain foreign. It is my sincere hope that the United States, and especially California, will look for ways to promote peace, rather than pick sides on issues abroad. The Legislature should focus on more important issues at home - my new home - where I value peace and freedom.
Elnur Aydinov is a medical budget analyst who lives in Tarzana.