Hadrut’s Henrikh Mirzoyan: Azerbaijani Soldiers Executed 83-Year-Old “Symbol of Kindness”
During the 2020 Karabakh war, 83-year-old Henrikh Mirzoyan would walk the seven kilometers from the Artsakh town of Hadrut to his house in the village of Norashen to feed his two cows.
On the morning of October 4, 2020, Henrikh Mirzoyan walked to Norashen but never returned. Azerbaijani troops shot the man, execution style, on the balcony of his house on October 9.
Henrikh Mirzoyan was born in 1937 in the Hadrut village of Norashen. At the age of twelve, he was sent to Baku to study at a vocational school. He was a plumber by profession. In 1989 he returned to Norashen with his wife to avoid the pogroms in Baku. His wife died a year later.
In 1995, Mirzoyan met Zinaida Javadyan in Hadrut. Her first husband died during the 1990s Artsakh war. The two married in 1995 and had a daughter, Heghineh. Javadyan had a son, Shahen, and a daughter from her first husband. The daughter, aged eleven, died in a 1994 car accident.
Henrikh Mirzoyan and Zinaida Javadyan lived in Hadrut with their children, but Henrikh spent most of the day at their house in Norashen. Prior to the war, he’d walk to Norashen ever evening to feed the cows, returning the next morning.
When the Azerbaijanis attacked on September 27, 2020, Hadrut residents sheltered in their basements. Shahen volunteered for the front.
"He went every morning, returning the same evening. He left on the fourth and didn’t return. I figured it had rained and he was waiting for it to stop. I waited and waited. I went all over, asking if anyone had seen him. On the fifth, most had left. Only five or six women were left. The mayor said a van had arrived and we had to leave. We said our kids are fighting. ‘Where should we go?’ My husband never returned that day and they forced us into the van,” Zinaida Javadyan recounts.
There was no news from Henrikh Mirzoyan. He didn’t have a cell phone. Relatives contacted the Red Cross for news. The family had to wait until December 2020.
On December 20, a search team found Henrikh Mirzoyan’s body on the balcony of his Norashen house. He had been shot in the chest. They sent a photo to Shahen for verification.
"He asked me for his passport before leaving. He said he might be killed, and they’d need it to identify the body. He had a premonition something might happen. He put the passport in his breast pocket and left. That’s the last we saw of him. And that’s how they identified him, with the passport,” says Zinaida Javadyan, pointing to her little grandson Armen playing in the center of the room.
Henrikh Mirzoyan was buried in Stepanakert on January 10, 2021.
Although a plumber by profession, Henrikh Mirzoyan was also a famous musician in the Hadrut region, playing the duduk, zurna and clarinet. He was self-taught and played at various events in the Hadrut region. Javadyan says her husband loved to make people happy with his music.
Henrikh Mirzoyan also made tonir ovens for villages in the region
"He was a gifted man. He was 83 years old but was so healthy that he said he would live more than one hundred years. He was never sick. You’d think he was sixty. He walked seven kilometers every day. His legs were strong,” says Zinaida Javadyan.
Henrikh Mirzoyan was a very caring person. Shahen calls him a symbol of kindness. During the war, he’d ask the Hadrut mayor for bread and then take it to the village.
"He’d give his last morsel of food to others. He’d spare nothing. He went to the village to feed the animals. He cared so much for them,” says Javadyan.
Although his name was Henrikh in the passport, his parents called him Surik since he was a child. In Hadrut and Norashen, he was known as Grandpa Surik.
"When they came to draft him into the army, they asked for Henrikh. His mom only knew him as Surik. She replied that there’s no Henrikh here,” Javadyan jokes.
"My husband was such a fun-loving person. He spread joy wherever he went. All Hadrut loved him.”
Azerbaijani troops killed three other Norashen residents during the 2020 war.
Illustration: Shushan Gevorgyan
Video editing: Ani Sargsyan
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