Don’t Give Farrah Khan the Price of Truth

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Saturday, October 23rd, the Orange County Democratic Party (DPOC) plans to honor several elected officials at a gala titled “Celebrating Truth and Justice”.

There is nothing unusual about a local political party honoring its own elected officials. What is unusual about this year’s gala is the DPOC’s decision to honor mayor Irvine Farrah Khan with a “Truth” award.

Earlier this year, in his official capacity as Mayor of Irvine, Khan participated in a virtual event hosted by the Azerbaijani Consulate General in Los Angeles in which she surprisingly described Azerbaijan as a “secular democracy”. Yet the respected nonprofit Liberty house classifies the country in the category of “consolidated authoritarian regime” and assesses it as “not free” with regard to access to political rights and civil liberties. Even Cuba and Iran rank higher than Azerbaijan when it comes to individual freedoms.

In his speech at the event, Mayor Khan went on to say that Azerbaijan is a place where different religious populations “live in peace, side by side, something that we continue to work on in the United States” . This suggestion that the United States should look to Azerbaijan as a model for the peaceful coexistence of diverse populations is laughable.

When objections to this DPOC award were raised, the Azerbaijani government removed Mayor Khan’s video address from his Facebook page and deleted his remarks from their YouTube video of the event. But having his remarks erased from the Internet is not a retraction of those remarks. It is simply an effort to hide them.

Last year, Mayor Kahn actively opposed a city council resolution that would have condemned the gross human rights violations and war crimes committed by the Azerbaijani and Turkish governments against the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh (also known under the name Artsakh), while a similar resolution was adopted by the Departmental Supervisory Council without opposition. At the time, Khan argued that condemning human rights violations is not a municipal issue. Still, she found it acceptable to travel to Azerbaijan using her official title and posting messages on the Azerbaijani government’s official social media as mayor of Irvine.

Mayor Khan’s continued involvement in efforts by Azerbaijan – one of the most authoritarian and corrupt regimes in the world – to hide its blatant human rights record not only betrays the fundamental tenets of the Democratic Party, but serves also to embolden a regime which, to date, torture Armenian prisoners of war and civilian captives, deploys terrorist mercenaries, dehumanizes the indigenous Armenian population of the region and rules with an iron fist over its own population. Here in Orange County, it sends a clear signal to idealistic young American voters to abandon their ideals and embrace hypocrisy as standard operating procedure in politics.

In the meantime, it should be an easy decision for the Orange County Democratic Party. Going forward with this award would be a betrayal of the very principles of truth and justice they seek to honor, as well as the commitment to democracy and human rights enshrined in the platform of the Democratic Party of California.

There are many Democrats worthy of receiving this award. Mayor Khan is not one of them.

Timothy Jemal is an elected director representing the South Orange County Community College District (SOCCCD).

Carolyn Inmon is an elected director representing the South Orange County Community College District (SOCCCD).

SOCCCCD is made up of Saddleback College, Irvine Valley College, and Tustin’s Advanced Technology & Education Park. SOCCCD serves more than 40,000 students per year with rigorous academic courses preparing for transfer to four-year colleges and universities, the acquisition of basic skills, vocational technical training, strong workforce development programs and high performance sports

The opinions expressed in community opinion pieces are the property of the authors and not of Voice of OC.

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