Interpreting the Past
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This photo story is about the young IDPs who are trying to interpret and remember their personal stories from the war. 


Interpreting the Past


Toghrul and Nurana are a newly married couple. Both of them are IDPs from Karabakh. 

Toghrul was born in Nuvadi, a village in the Meghri rayon. His father worked as a doctor there. In 1990, Toghrul`s father was sent to Shusha for an assignment, and Toghrul and his mother went along. Toghrul was just 30 days old.

In 1991, the war arrived in Shusha, and living there became dangerous. Toghrul and his then pregnant mother had to start living in the hospital where his father was working.Toghrul`s elder brother stayed with his grandma in Nuvadi.


Nurana`s relatives were living in Shusha at this time, while she and her family were living in Fuzuli. The last time they went to Shusha was August 1991. They took a flight from Fuzuli to Agdam, then a taxi from Agdam to Shusha. On their way to Shusha, Armenian soldiers stopped the car. When they saw women and children in the car they let them go, but after that they blocked the road. 



Brothers Ahmed and Elnur Mukhtar


Ahmed and Elnur Mukhtar are brothers who were displaced from Agdam after the occupation. They came to Barda and lived there for 4 years.

Elnur was born in Maqsudlu in the Agdam region in 1989. After the war his family lived in Barda. They moved to Baku in 1997, and Elnur eventually studied film directing at the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Art. He now works as a freelance photographer and filmmaker.

Ahmed also was born in Maqsudlu. After moving to Baku and finishing school, Ahmed studied journalism at Baku State University. Ahmed was teaching photography classes at the Baku School of Journalism (a non-governmental organization established in 2005) until it was closed by the Azerbaijani government. Now, Ahmed works as a freelance photographer. Ahmed told us the story of how he and his brother became IDPs:

Emin" "The conflict can only be resolved when both sides use democratic solutions."


Emin Aslan was born in Lachin rayon in Azerbaijan, which was occupied on May 1992. Emin lives and works in Tbilisi for the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

Emin and his family were living in the lower part of Lachin while his uncles and grandparents were living in upper Lachin, surrounded by the mountains.  Emin remembers that when the shooting started, they turned their lights off and hid at home. One day when the shootings increased,  his uncle brought them to upper Lachin because the mountains were safer.

Emin remembers that when they left their house they walked near the walls because it was dark there and safer. When they was walking, Emin's elder sister began kissing the walls. When her mother asked why she was doing this, she answered that she wanted to say goodbye to this place that she may never see again. Shortly after they arrived at their grandmother’s house, a missile hit the house and they decided to leave Lachin. They came to Yevlakh and lived there for 4 months.

They they moved to Baku and started to live in a dormitory for refugees and IDPs. Emin and his sister were studying at a school for IDPs that provided less than adequate education. Their family thought that this would prevent the two from entering university, but both his sister and Emin were able to study International Law at Baku State University.

Emin's says that people who experienced and suffered from the war want to be sure that it doesn't happen again. People who want war, he says, haven't seen the difficulties it causes, haven't suffered from it; that it’s only when you don’t know war that it seems like an easy solution. For Emin, the conflict can only be resolved when both sides use democratic solutions.


Nurlan - still like a foreigner.


After escaping from Fizuli, Nurlan’s family moved to Baku. Having lived in Baku since 1993, and finishing both school and university there,  Nurlan still feels like a foreigner. He says that from the very beginning, attitudes toward the IDPs in Baku were not good; native residents of Baku thought that IDPs were polluting the city.

“...people from the rural areas are very different from city dwellers. A rural person moving to Baku brings his own understandings about life, his own culture and traditions. This is a terrible demographic tragedy. Our family, my relatives, and thousands of people moved from one place to another just for one reason -- to exist!”

According to the State Committee for Refugees and IDPs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, after the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan 700,000 IDPs from Nagorno Karabakh came to live in Azerbaijan. They were placed in 62 cities and rayons throughout the country. Among them were children who have grown up in extraordinary circumstances.



This material may contain terms, which are not favored by all the parties of the dispute/conflict. Terms used in a material belong to the author and not Chai-Khana. 

Chai Khana
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