Councilmember Krekorian Condemns Remarks By Us Ambassador To Azerbaijan

Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian

Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian

Following Azerbaijan media reports that the United States had “apologized” for protests in Los Angeles by American citizens against Azeri aggression, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian formally demanded a response from the US Ambassador to that country.

After Azerbaijan attacked Armenian border villages last month, protests against the aggression took place around the world. In some places, including Los Angeles, Azeri nationalists initiated provocative actions to disrupt the exercise by Armenian-Americans and others of their constitutionally protected rights.

According to the Azeri media reports, United States Ambassador Lee Litzenberger disparaged Armenian-American citizens to the Azeri Foreign Ministry, blaming them for “provocation” as they exercised their First Amendment rights. These media reports also reported that the US Ambassador had claimed that local Los Angeles officials had also apologized – a claim that is utterly absurd and false. Especially troubling, the US Ambassador supposedly assured this foreign government “that an investigation will be carried out regarding this issue and appropriate measures will be taken.”

In his letter to the Ambassador, Councilmember Krekorian demanded clarification and/or retraction from the Ambassador, since there is little reason to assume that unsubstantiated reports from Azeri state-influenced media are factual.

Councilmember Krekorian wrote: “As an elected leader of the City of Los Angeles, I would be shocked and disturbed to learn that an ambassador of my country would comment upon or intervene in any way in an investigation by a local law enforcement agency within the United States, let alone to reach a conclusory characterization about such an investigation. Moreover, … I would be deeply concerned if the United States Department of State or one of its ambassadors believed that they (or any Federal agency) had the authority to ‘investigate’ occurrences that took place in Los Angeles that do not involve Federal law, let alone to take ‘appropriate measures.’ Finally, I would certainly hope that no ambassador of the United States of America would ever apologize to any foreign government for the exercise of constitutionally protected rights by Americans at home.”
Below is the full text of Councilmember Krekorian’s letter to is attached.
Ambassador Lee Litzenberger
Embassy of the United States of America 111 Azadlig Avenue
AZ1007 Baku, Azerbaijan

Re: Los Angeles Protests for Peace Dear Ambassador Litzenberger:

As you may already have heard, the Azeri news website News.az has reported a version of a conversation it claims you had with Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Khalaf Khalafov, regarding recent protests that took place in Los Angeles.

That news site described your purported comments as follows:
(1) You supposedly told Mr. Khalafov “there is irrefutable evidence that the recent provocation in Los Angeles was committed by aggressive Armenian demonstrators”;
(2) You supposedly expressed your “deep regret” over the incident;
(3) You supposedly asserted that “the leadership of the local law enforcement agencies of Los Angeles apologizes for the Armenian provocation there, as well as for the fact that it could not stop it”;
(4) You supposedly assured the Foreign Ministry “that an investigation will be carried out regarding this issue and appropriate measures will be taken”; and
(5) You supposedly stressed you “will raise the issues discussed at this meeting before Washington, including the issue of additional measures to ensure the security of Azerbaijan’s diplomatic missions in the US.”

I am quite sure that either the news site or the Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry’s statement on which it relies must be exaggerating or misstating your statements, so I am writing to invite you to clarify the record.

The resumption of aggression by Azerbaijan in the border region near Tavush has outraged many throughout the world, prompting demonstrations in Los Angeles and elsewhere demanding an end to the hostilities. Fortunately, such protests are a cherished part of American heritage and entirely protected by our Constitution. However, in some places, including Los Angeles, there have been counter-protests by Azeri nationalists that have resulted in violence. There have also been many instances of racism, hate crimes and violence directed at Armenians and Armenian institutions.

As an elected leader of the City of Los Angeles, I would be shocked and disturbed to learn that an ambassador of my country would comment upon or intervene in any way in an investigation by a local law enforcement agency within the United States, let alone to reach a conclusory characterization about such an investigation. Moreover, I would find it outrageously inappropriate for an ambassador of my country to take it upon himself to actually speak on behalf of a local law enforcement agency, especially the one that I and my colleagues oversee. I would be deeply concerned if the United States Department of State or one of its ambassadors believed that they (or any Federal agency) had the authority to “investigate” occurrences that took place in Los Angeles that do not involve Federal law, let alone to take “appropriate measures.” Finally, I would certainly hope that no ambassador of the United States of America would ever apologize to any foreign government for the exercise of constitutionally protected rights by Americans at home.

I would very much appreciate your response to this news report, and I would welcome your correction of anything that has been misinterpreted about your statements. Even more important, I ask for your confirmation that the United States Government is not directly or indirectly undertaking any role to influence this ongoing investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department or any steps that may be taken as a result of that investigation.

Very truly yours,
PAUL KREKORIAN
Councilmember, Second Council District


Source: News from Asbarez.Com | Councilmember Krekorian Condemns Remarks By Us Ambassador To Azerbaijan