Letter to the Editor:
It is with a heavy heart we have to write to the council requesting the revocation of Burbank’s Friendship City Resolution with the city of Hadrut in Artsakh.
As you are aware by now, the unprovoked war by Azerbaijan and Turkey against Artsakh in September 2020 has resulted in the illegal occupation of city of Hadrut-Artsakh by Azerbaijan forces and forced the Armenian population of Artsakh to abandon their ancestral lands and homes to save their lives. Sadly, as it stands now and for the foreseeable future, the illegal Azeri occupation will to continue to scatter and displace Hadrut’s Armenian population from their land.
In view of the “ethnic cleansing” policy of the Azerbaijani government, where none of the pre-war inhabitants is allowed to live in Hadrut, Burbank’s Friendship City with Hadrut is now deemed irrelevant and no longer serves its original purposes and should be revoked. The concept of a “Friendship City” signifies friendship with the people of that city and not the structures or buildings of that city and the continued friendship city status with Hadrut will be a mockery of the friendship city concept and embolden the Azerbaijani Government and its illegally occupying forces.
The Azerbaijani Government and forces committed countless human rights violations and war crimes, not only in Artsakh as a whole but specifically in Hadrut, from bombing civilians to using cluster bombs banned by the Geneva Convention. Sadly, the City of Hadrut was also identified as the site of the prisoner of war executions of two unarmed Armenian soldiers who were executed mercilessly by Azerbaijani occupying forces even though they surrendered peacefully and their hands were shackled behind their backs. The BBC has covered this specific crime and their experts identified Hadrut as the location of this flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention regarding prisoners of war, you can read the whole story at this link https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54645254
The city of Burbank does not and should not tolerate any human rights violations or war crimes and the continued Friendship City status with Hadrut must be revoked to send a clear signal to Azerbaijan and any other country that Friendship City with Burbank is a privilege and not a right or commodity you can attain by military occupation.
We would also ask the City of Burbank to issue a resolution recognizing Artsakh as an independent state. The people of Artsakh deserve their freedom, the basic human right of self-determination and living free from occupation and fear of annihilation and conquest by Azerbaijan and Turkey.
We would like to remind the council that neighboring cities of Glendale, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Montebello and Highland have already issued such resolutions recognizing Artsakh as an independent state. Also, the following counties, Orange County, Fresno County and Clark County. The state of California also recognized Artsakh back in May 2014.
The following U.S. States have also recognized Artsakh: Nevada (2020), Georgia (2016), Hawaii (2016), Louisiana (2013), Maine (2013), Massachusetts (2012), Michigan (2017), Rhode Island (2012) and Colorado (2019).
By taking the above two actions, the City of Burbank will send a loud and clear message that Burbank will not tolerate human rights violations and will always support people’s right for self-determination, basic dignity and freedom from military occupation.
The City should also assure the displaced Armenian residents of Hadrut that the City of Burbank supports them and stands by them in all shapes and forms.
Editor’s Note: This was also sent to the Burbank City Council