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Rima Grigoryan

Hayk Makiyan

The Mirzoyans of Artsakh: Azerbaijani Troops Killed Father, Took Daughter Captive

On October 27, 2020, Azerbaijani troops captured the Shekher village of Artsakh’s Martuni district after six days of fighting.

The last Armenian defense units, under the cover of artillery fire, left the village in the afternoon of that day with the support of artillery. 

Two Armenians remained in the village, cut off from any escape. One of them, 79-year-old Hmayak Mirzoyan, was bedridden. The other was 46-year-old Gayaneh, his daughter and sole caregiver.

Gayaneh Mirzoyan, who would go to the nearest spring daily for water, never returned home that fateful day.

The woman was released by her captors, who had sent her to Azerbaijan, on December 12, 2020.

She then relocated to Tzaghkadzor, a resort town in Armenia, where a section of the sports complex housed two hundred other Armenians displaced by the war.

Anahit Hayrapetyan, who oversees the building at the complex, says that when Gayaneh first moved in, she was afraid of the water and refused to bathe. Hayrapetyan says the woman equated water with the torture she suffered while in captivity.

Gayaneh was reluctant to talk about what happened in Shekher. Suffice it to say, Azerbaijani troops took her captive at the spring. She doesn’t know what fate befell her father.

The section of Shekher where the Mirzoyans lived was isolated from the rest of the village. Azerbaijani military units had entered the village as early as October 22.

Gayaneh Mirzoyan was released by her captors, who had sent her to Azerbaijan, on December 12, 2020.

 She learnt that her father had been registered as missing.

Shekher Mayor Mkhitar Mangasaryan tells Hetq that that he twice personally ordered Hmayak and Gayaneh Mirzoyan to evacuate with the others. They stayed behind.

 "After our final exit from the village, I found out that they didn't leave,” Mangasaryan says.

Gayaneh says she couldn’t leave given her father’s health.  

A 2021 report published by the Artsakh Human Rights Defender states that on December 20, 2020, the remains of Hmayak Mirzoyan were taken out of the Shekher and that the village mayor identified the body.

Mangasaryan says he saw Hmayak Mirzoyan's body in a photograph, recognized him by his clothes and, since the remains were found in Mirzoyan's house, confirmed his identity.

To identify her father's remains, Gayaneh donated blood for a DNA test earlier this year. There was no match. 

Psychologists have been working with Gayaneh since she arrived in Tzaghkadzor. She’s gradually learning to confront the trauma of captivity.

Gayaneh has since moved back to Artsakh. 

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