Tribunal questions refugee’s persecution claim, New Zealand
Feb 12 2005

Tribunal questions refugee’s persecution claim
12 February 2005

The asylum seeker who says she will be persecuted and possibly killed
if she is forced to return to Azerbaijan was a “vague, hesitant and
mobile” witness, the Refugee Status Appeals Authority says.

Gulnara Taghiyeva, who will be deported by the Immigration Service
as soon as travel documents are available, says she faces a violent
future on her return because she is a Christian.

However, in a damning written decision on Taghiyeva’s application
to stay in New Zealand, the tribunal questions her commitment to
Christianity and casts doubt on claims she was severely beaten or
persecuted as a Christian living in the predominantly Muslim country.

Taghiyeva appeared in the Christchurch District Court yesterday
looking frail and tired, eyes red from crying, after two nights in
Christchurch police cells.

A judge released her on bail, unopposed by the Immigration Service,
to live with friends in Papanui while travel documents are secured
for her deportation.

The 44-year-old was taken into police custody on Wednesday morning
after the Associate Immigration Minister threw out a last-ditch effort
for refugee status.

Asked how good it was to be released on bail, Taghiyeva broke down
in tears and whispered “Hallelujah Jesus”.

Taghiyeva clutched her Bible, surrounded by her Christian supporters,
too overwhelmed to speak, except to thank God for her release.

Taghiyeva told the authority she had divorced her Muslim husband in
1986 after five years marriage, during which time they had a daughter
who was physically and intellectually disabled.

Later that year she entered into a relationship with an Armenian man.

Her parents did not approve and her father beat her, kicked her out
of home and “took” her daughter from her.

After she converted to Christianity, Taghiyeva said Azerbaijan police
detained her twice, punched her, used pliers to pinch her skin,
extinguished cigarettes in her mouth and urinated on her.

But the authority said it did not believe Taghiyeva’s story and said
she would be safe if she returned home.

Taghiyeva was a “vague, hesitant and mobile” witness who made
inconsistent statements including:

Her original application for refugee status made no reference to two
detentions by the police or mistreatment by authorities. She answered
“No” to questions on being detained or arrested or mistreated.

She said she was baptised as a Christian but could not remember the
exact date of such a significant event.

Taghiyeva said she went to Turkey and Iran looking to escape
persecution, but each time returned to Azerbaijan because it was
either too expensive or people would not help her. The authority
found her returning to the country “inconsistent with her claim to
be in fear of persecution”.

The authority said while it was accepted Taghiyeva was Christian
“this (was) not a significant aspect of her life”.

“She has never had any problems as a result of this. She manifests
her faith in a very modest way (prayers to Jesus) and is quite content
not to attend church.”

The authority said Azerbaijan had a relatively safe human rights
record and Taghiyeva would not be harmed.

“While there may be isolated incidents of persecution, they are
not of such frequency that it could be said that Taghiyeva has a
well-founded fear of being persecuted. The authority does not doubt
(that baptism happened) but it does find that Christianity is not
particularly important to her.”


From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress