Every year on June 20, the United Nations marks World Refugee Day. This day represents a global call for action, promoting engagement in local and governmental levels to raise awareness to the world community about the plight of millions of forcibly displaced people who find refuge and protection in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and many other countries.

A case in point is the long-lasting Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the South Caucasus region, where some 16 percent of Azerbaijan has been occupied by neighboring Armenia. This violent conflict caused nearly 1 million humiliated and abused ethnic Azeri, Kurdish and other refugees from Armenia to flee their homes. This action by Armenian armed forces against Azerbaijani civilians was the largest campaign of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in the region.

There are many other similar cases around the world, where similar injustices have occurred. To help all these refugees and to at least minimize the occurrences of such injustices in the future, I call on elected officials to exert pressure on perpetrator nations by:

(1) Requiring compliance with all relevant U.N. Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

2) Conditioning any U.S. military, security, economic and technical aid only after the State Department has certified that perpetrator nations have ceased occupation and have withdrawn their occupying forces from the victim nations.

3) Stopping all direct U.S. aid to such criminal separatist authorities as those in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Kanan Mammadov