Ingrid & Anders

Newsletter No 6

Dear Members of the Armenian community in the United Kingdom,
Thank you for your continued support of ANC UK in our efforts to influence and guide UK policy on the issue of Artsakh. Over the past few weeks, we have worked on a variety of issues from helping our POWs to addressing the UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan’s comments on Twitter and other social media, and lobbying for amendments to the Trade Bill. 
We will continue to represent the interests of the Armenian community in the UK political arena to ensure that the voice of Armenians in the UK remains strong. This newsletter will provide a brief update on the actions we have taken since the beginning of the New Year. 

Our campaign: Act to Help POWs

Hundreds of prisoners of war continue to be held captive by the Azeris over two months after the war ended. 
Our campaign “Release all POW’s now and stop the inhumane treatment of those held captive by Azerbaijan and allow Artsakh and Armenia to collect their dead” continues to be of importance. We have refreshed the letter to ensure that it contains the most up to date information. 
Many of you have already written letters to your MPs to raise this issue, and if you haven’t done so yet, we urge you to click on the link below and send a letter today – it won’t take more than a couple of minutes of your time. You can also edit the letter to add a personal message about why this issue is important to you.
Condemn Azerbaijan for not releasing the hundreds of POWs and the inhumane treatment of those held captive by Azerbaijan by writing to your MP today. 
Write to your MP now!
Tim Loughton MP, chairman of Armenia APPG contributes to the debate on the Trade Bill

Our actions on your behalf

Since the beginning of the New Year, we have continued to raise our concerns with the government and raise awareness of the situation on the ground through media coverage and events. Here are the actions we have taken on your behalf:
1. As set out in a previous newsletter, an important amendment to the Trade Bill relevant to Armenia was introduced by the House of Lords, but did not pass in the House of Commons. The Trade Bill was introduced into the Commons in 2019, to provide the foundation for future trade agreements post-Brexit. 
ANC UK collaborated with Lord Alton organised a campaign and came together with our allies to issue a joint statement on our support for the Genocide and Human Rights Amendments to the Trade Bill. The Armenian, Cypriot and Kurdish organisation urged their communities to implore our MPs to vote for the amendments. A sample letter was sent to our communities asking them to write to their MPs. As a result of our joint efforts, six MPs changed their original votes and voted in line with our position. 
Following the process of Ping-Pong between the Houses of Parliament, the Bill returned for a second time to the House of Lords for further debate; and then back to the House of Commons for a further vote on amendments. You can watch the debate on the Parliament TV Website. In summary, the following changes happened:
  • the Lords amendments which proposed the inclusion of greater Parliamentary scrutiny of any trade agreements were voted down;
  • the Lords amendments on human rights and genocide were further amended. As a result, select committees in Parliament, rather than the courts, would now have the ability to compile a report on genocide in a prospective trade partner country and, if the Government is unable to counter such a report, they will have to bring a motion to debate in Parliament;
  • the Bill will now return to the House of Lords on 23 February for further discussion.
2. We wrote a letter to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs to express our concern about a tweet posted by the UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan, James Sharp, and its contradiction of official British foreign policy towards Nagorno-Karabakh. The strongly-worded letter requested a response as to whether the UK Government supports Azerbaijan’s invasion and occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh.
3. As the Secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Armenia, chaired by Tim Loughton MP, ANC UK is preparing a report to present at the next APPG meeting which will take place on 8 of March, detailing the current situation in Armenia and Artsakh with the aim of putting further pressure on the UK government to act. The APPG will also hear directly from Arman Tatoyan, the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia, who will present on the human rights abuses in Artsakh. 
In addition, the following developments took place: 
4. ANC International Criticized Armenia’s Foreign Minister for Remarks on Turkey. The Armenian National Committee-International on Thursday issued a statement criticizing Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ara Aivazyan, who in remarks on  Wednesday said that Turkey no longer had a reason to keep its borders closed.” The ANC International also voiced concern about the dangers such a policy might pose not only to the security of Armenia but also the unresolved issues stemming from Turkey’s continued denial of
the Armenian Genocide.

Next steps

We will continue on supporting the APPG for Armenia to keep raising the issue of Artsakh in the Parliament and put pressure on the government to take appropriate action. 
We will also provide direct support to Tim Loughton MP in the drafting and promotion of the private members’ bill on the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, which he mentioned during our latest event.
We will continue to take action on your behalf to raise awareness, influence and guide UK policy and represent the collective British Armenian viewpoint on the issue of Artsakh. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

How you can help:

1. Participate in our campaign by writing to your MP to raise awareness about what is happening to POWs. ANC has templates on our website. It’s just a click of a button.
Write to your MP now!
2. Write to your MP using a personal message, with a compelling story about why the issue matters to you, asking them for a meeting. If you secure a meeting, ANC UK will be happy to brief you ahead of this and provide you with any necessary materials.
3. The committee has so far worked on volunteer capacity and we would like to raise funds to employ full-time staff in the near future and need our community to assist us in this. Please consider donating to ANC UK and help us continue our work. With everything that we’ve all been through and all that lies ahead, we need your faith, your friendship, and financial generosity more than ever before.

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