I Am An Armenian-American. My Head, If Decapitated, Is Valued At $100. Senator Dianne Feinstein Will Consider Legislation. My Open Letter To Senator Dianne Feinstein
By Vic Gerami
For five weeks, Armenians of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) were under attack of a genocidal war and ethnic cleansing. Azerbaijan and Turkey recruited ISIS, Syrian, Libya, and Pakistani jihadist mercenaries to slaughter ‘infidel Armenians’ and pay them a $100 bonus for every decapitated head. Azerbaijani forces were firing white phosphorus munitions to destroy entire villages, forests, and everything it landed on.
I wrote a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein and received an auto-reply a few days late. What was Senator Feinstein solution? “I will keep your thoughts in mind should any relevant legislation come before me in the Senate for consideration.”
Having given up on Senator Feinstein as I have on several other elected officials, organizations, and governing bodies, I decided to write this open letter to the Senator.
Dear Senator Feinstein,
Azerbaijan and Turkey unleashed a five-week genocidal war and ethnic cleansing on Armenians of Artsakh, during which I wrote you a letter asking for help as my Senator. Considering the circumstances, I will forgo formalities and get right to the point.
I am a gay Armenian-American, a Democrat, and a CA native who has supported and voted for you throughout my adult life. As an Armenian, I thought that you had a fair record on issues concerning more than 700,000 Armenian-Americans that live in CA. As a gay man, I admired you as the former mayor of San Francisco and your record on LGBTQ rights. As a Democrat, I was happy that we had a blue state, although your position on some issues makes me wonder if you are really a Democrat. But I don’t subscribe to the notion that elected officials can fix everything. Furthermore, as an activist journalist with a national political radio show, I am keenly aware of the challenges involved in a matter as complicated as Artsakh.
But I am appalled by your apathy and cavalier attitude about the humanitarian catastrophe that made over 100,000 people refugees in their own ancestral homeland. Armenians of Artsakh had to give up their land, their homes, their livelihood, and leave their ancestral homeland of millennias.
For a long time, I have wondered what happened to you, why we don’t hear from you, and why you have become such an establishment politician rather than a leader. But what triggered me to finally write you is your boilerplate response to the urgent letter I sent you regarding Artsakh. So, I would like to address your statements and express my deep disappointment in detail.
Senator Feinstein: Thank you for contacting me to express your views about Armenia and the recent violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh region. I appreciate the time you took to write, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.
Like you, I am horrified by the terrible violence committed against the Armenian people throughout history—from mass exterminations during the Armenian genocide at the beginning of the 20th century, to the violent pogroms against Armenians just a few decades ago. I share your desire to ensure that these dark chapters of history are never forgotten or repeated.
Senator Feinstein, What are you doing to ensure that these ‘dark chapters in history’ are not repeated? Because I have news for you Senator-It is being repeated right NOW, in REAL-TIME, and your silence has been deafening. On September 27, 2020, Azerbaijan and Turkey unleashed an unprovoked genocidal war on Artsakh and Armenia, recruiting ISIS, Syrian, Libya, and Pakistani jihadist mercenaries to kill Armenians. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
Over 700,000 Armenian-Americans live in CA and a lot of us voted for you throughout the years. But your lack of leadership, complete disregard for human life, and surd letter make you an utter disappointment. This is complete negligence.
Senator Feinstein: I am deeply troubled by the recent increase in tensions and violence in the region. I also condemn attacks at Armenian churches and schools in California and support a swift law enforcement response to hold those responsible accountable. I strongly support efforts by the United States and other nations to bring Armenia and Azerbaijan together for peaceful negotiations and to ensure compliance with international agreements.
First, it’s not ‘tension.’ Tension suggests that both sides instigated it. Azerbaijan launched a calculated and strategically engineered attack on Armenians living in Artsakh. With ample proof and peer journalists reporting evidence of coordination and collaboration between Azerbaijan and Turkey, the purchase of weapons from multiple other parties in advance, and the hiring of jihadist mercenaries from Syria, please don’t paint a picture almost exclusively from the unsubstantiated lens of the perpetrators, lacking any investigative support or objective analysis.
Your statement follows a pattern of victim-blaming and glazing over important parts of the accurate narrative. If you visit the house of a battered wife and her wife-beater husband, would you sit them down and tell them, ‘I would like both of you to put your fists down?’
Your boilerplate auto-blast letter is WORTHLESS and OFFENSIVE. What are you DOING to stop the ethnic cleansing of Armenians? While you wrote a ‘letter of concern’, spewed rhetoric and soundbites, Armenians were slaughtered. Azerbaijan & Turkey are paying mercenaries $2,000 a month to kill for them, plus $100 for every severed head. So again, what are you DOING to stop this humanitarian catastrophe NOW? Why didn’t you condemn Azerbaijan and Turkey for their war crimes? Your failure to properly categorize these crimes against humanity and condemn the two aggressor nations directly, speaks volumes and emboldens their dictators.
As far as negotiation, no thanks to you, several bodies and organizations have attempted to bring Azerbaijan to the table. If you had been paying any attention, you would know that Azerbaijan has broken three cease-fires and an agreement not to target civilians. Most have concluded that Azerbaijan and Turkey are NOT interested in peace, negotiations, or compromise. So, what do YOU propose Senator? Without any leadership in the White House or the State Department, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was forced to sign an ‘agreement’ by Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Russia, and in the absence of the two remaining OSCE Minsk Group members, the United States and France.
Senator Feinstein: Please know that I am closely monitoring developments in the region, and I will keep your thoughts in mind should any relevant legislation come before me in the Senate for consideration.
Frankly, based on your boilerplate reply, I don’t think that you or your staff were monitoring the situation at all. Furthermore, how could you say that you would keep my thoughts in your mind should any relevant legislation come before you in the Senate? Your statement is a blatant slap in the face, tone-deaf, and shows that you do NOT care at all. Let me say it again, Armenians were being slaughtered like animals by terrorists who were paid for their heads. But no worries, we’ll wait for legislation to pass through your desk sometime in the future so you can consider it.
Will all due respect, how dare you? Just read some of the decisive and substantial steps that your Congressional colleagues such as Congressman Adam Schiff, Congressman Frank Pallone, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Congressman Brad Sherman, Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard have taken and perhaps you would realize the absurdity of your letter. While you are at it, look online for pictures of Azerbaijani soldiers parading around the severed heads of captured Armenian soldiers. Watch videos of Azerbaijan firing white phosphorus munitions over Armenian villages and forests. Look at photos of civilians burned by the phosphorus.
Azerbaijani forces were firing white phosphorus munitions to destroy major forests. When a white phosphorus shell explodes, the chemical inside reacts with the air, creating a thick white cloud. When it meets flesh, it can maim and kill by burning to the bone. Feel free to check out photos of hundreds of civilians with horrendous burns on their bodies.
The least you could do is to condemn Azerbaijan and Turkey as over one-hundred bi-partisan Senators and Representatives have done, rather than repeat the same old ‘both sides’ narrative.
Over %75 of Armenians have fled Artsakh and the rest are in bomb shelters. But no worries, I’ll make sure to tell traumatized children, desperate mothers, and injured elderly that you would consider legislation should it come through your desk in the future. Would you tell Chum Mey to wait for legislation if you received a letter from him in Cambodia? Will you tell Leopoldo García Lucero the same if you knew of his situation in Chile? What if someone wrote you to say that Anne Frank and her family were hiding for their lives in the Netherlands and in imminent danger? Would you wait for legislation to hit your desk?
The great Elie Wiesel said, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”
As Congressman Adam Schiff has called, lasting peace will be achieved ONLY when the international community recognizes the Independent Republic of Artsakh. Perhaps you would like to join the caucus.