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Together A Lifetime, Azeri Activists Now Apart And In Jail

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

Leyla and Arif Yunus met as young history students in the late 1970s, at a party hosted by one of their professors at Baku State University.

As the evening drew to a close, Arif offered to walk Leyla to the subway station. There was something about her he liked -- a lot. A week later, he appeared at her mother's doorstep, asking for Leyla's hand in marriage.

Dinara Yunusova, the couple's daughter, says her grandmother was startled by the abrupt proposal. "Usually in Azerbaijan, it's the elders who will come and ask for the hand of the daughter. But my dad came by himself," says Yunusova, 28. "My grandmother was shocked, but she said, 'It's her life.' My mother had already noticed him a few times at the university, even before the party, so I guess she liked him, too."

The couple was married soon afterward, at a small ceremony attended by close friends. Nine years later, Dinara was born.

Arif became a respected author and historian; Leyla, a prominent rights activist and outspoken government critic. Both shared a passionate conviction of the need for reconciliation between Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia.

To read the full story

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

Together A Lifetime, Azeri Activists Now Apart And In Jail

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