The Armenian authorities have granted political asylum to an Azerbaijani family that apparently fled Azerbaijan late last year.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that Shahin Mirzoyev, an activist and member of Azerbaijan’s ethnic Talysh minority, has requested “temporary asylum” for himself, his wife and children. “Armenian authorities reacted positively to the request of Shahin Mirzoyev,” the ministry said in a statement.
The statement claimed that the family fled Azerbaijan because of “gross violations of their rights” and Mirzoyev’s “persecution” on ethnic grounds. It did not specify when the family arrived in Armenia.
Mirzoyev referred to himself as an “activist of the Talysh national movement” and “opposition blogger” in a recent appeal for help that was posted on Talish.info. He said that his family left Azerbaijan for Georgia in early December and was denied any assistance by the Georgian government.
“My wife is seriously ill,” he wrote. “My children have a fever. We cannot to get medical aid … The Georgian side does not want to spoil relations with the Azerbaijani authorities because of one Talysh family.”
Mirzoyev claimed that they cannot return to Azerbaijan because “going back there would mean signing a death sentence for my family.” He did not elaborate.
The activist also posted a photograph of a woman lying in bed and two young boys sitting beside her and holding up handwritten English-language posters. “Do not kill our mother,” read one of them.
According to the Azerbaijani news agency Turan, Rafig Jalilov, head of the Talysh Cultural Center in Baku, confirmed that Mirzoyev is a senior member of his non-governmental organization.He insisted, however, that Mirzoyev was never persecuted by the Azerbaijani authorities for his activities or ethnic origin.
“His wife found herself in a severe condition due to doctors’ incompetence … As a result, his family asked for asylum in Georgia,” Jalilov told Turan.
Another Azerbaijani family likewise fled to Armenia via Georgia and was granted political asylum there about two years ago. One of its members, Javid Orujev, claimed to have been harassed by and forced to spy for Azerbaijani intelligence because of his wife Roya Mirzoyeva’s ethnic Armenian roots. The Armenian authorities subsequently helped Orujev, Mirzoyeva and their three children emigrate to another, undisclosed country.