Mahammud Mirzaliyev, a soft-spoken farmer clearly unaccustomed to the media limelight, stood in his ruined home village and patiently told his story to one journalist after another.
He used to live in this village, Jojug Marjanli, until it was engulfed by the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the early 1990s. The village changed hands multiple times, and by the time a ceasefire was signed in 1994, it was back under Azerbaijani control but in ruins and mined. Azerbaijan’s government said it was unable to demine the village and render it safe to return because Armenian forces, which controlled a strategic hilltop about three kilometers away, would fire at demining experts if they tried. Mirzaliyev thus became one of the hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis (numbers are disputed) displaced from their homes as a result of that war.
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