Asylum for an Activist from Azerbaijan
Attorneys I.S. Law Firm have secured a grant of asylum in immigration court for a political activist from Azerbaijan who was systematically persecuted by the Azerbaijani government on account of her political views and was in removal proceedings in the United States.
In gathering evidence in support of this petition, our attorneys collaborated with distinguished oppositional activists and high-profile Azerbaijani political figures, one of whom was a witness at the hearing. We demonstrated to the satisfaction of the immigration court that the government of Azerbaijan has been systematically imprisoning, threatening and attacking dissidents, political opposition figures, and journalists based on their political opinion, and has attacked our client based on her political opinion. We have also shown that the Azerbaijani government uses its embassy in Washington, DC to spy on politically active Azerbaijani citizens in the United States with the goal of punishing them upon their return to Azerbaijan.
In order to be granted asylum, the applicant must prove that he/she qualifies as a refugee. According to the official definition, a refugee is a person who, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country; or who not having a nationality and being outside the country of his/her former habitual residence.., is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
In this particular case, our client suffered persecution at the hands of the Azerbaijani government because of her political opinion, her family’s political activism, membership in a leading opposition party, and ties to high-profile democratic figures in Azerbaijan. Our client was beaten and other members of her family were severely beaten, attacked, injured, and jailed on numerous occasions by the government of Azerbaijan because of the family’s political views, opinion, and political activities. Upon our client’s arrival to the United States, she applied for affirmative asylum with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); however, because her previous attorney did not sufficiently prepare for her USCIS interview, her asylum request was initially denied, and she was put in removal proceedings.
Attorneys at I.S. Law Firm proved that our client has been politically active over the past decade, fiercely campaigning for democracy in Azerbaijan alongside other members of her family, participating in protests against election fraud and demanding that the government release political prisoners. In retaliation, the Azerbaijani government attacked and threatened our client and her family. In October 2003, our client and her family were among the group of opposition party members and international observers gathered in front of the opposition party office in Baku waiting for the results of Azerbaijani presidential election to be announced. The peaceful observers were attacked and violently dispersed by the Azerbaijani police, which was witnessed by representatives of international human rights and news organizations. The 2003 Azerbaijani election, proclaimed fraudulent by independent monitors, brought to power Ilham Aliyev, the son of previous president Heydar Aliyev. In November 2005, in the wake of disputed parliamentary election in Azerbaijan, our client was attacked and threatened again. The Azerbaijani government also interfered with our client’s freedom of travel and with her family’s legitimate business, seeking to intimidate our client and make her stop her political activities.
As required for all asylum cases, we also demonstrated that our client had a well-founded fear of persecution if she was forced to return to her home country, evidenced by the deteriorating human rights situation and continued persecution of political activists in Azerbaijan. Importantly, we were able to show that after our client relocated to the United States, she continued her struggle against the totalitarian regime in Azerbaijan, working to raise awareness about the grave human rights situation in Azerbaijan among the American public and politicians. This would put her life in danger if she was to return to Azerbaijan because of Azerbaijani government’s continued surveillance of dissidents abroad. Attorneys at I.S. Law Firm also argued that our client would be in especially significant danger in Azerbaijan, since her entire family is politically active, and the Azerbaijani government habitually targets family members of prominent activists. Thus, we were able to obtain the grant of asylum for our client.
I.S. Law Firm applauds the attention and preparedness of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) counsel during the hearing. It was a pleasure to see that the DHS counsel was well prepared and well informed about the systematic persecution of dissidents, oppression of democracy, and crackdown on protesters by the current dictatorial regime in Azerbaijan. In the light of this information, the DHS counsel took a non-adversarial approach to the hearing, meaning that the DHS did not object to the grant of asylum to our client.
In order to obtain approval of our clients’ asylum petitions, attorneys at I.S. Law Firm gather subjective and objective evidence, country reports, complete the forms, write memorandums, thoroughly prepare the applicant for the questioning, and stand by the applicant’s side, supporting him or her throughout the entire process. We are proud of our success rates in asylum cases, both affirmative asylum cases through the USCIS and defensive asylum cases through the immigration courts.
PLEASE NOTE THAT CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. CASE RESULTS DESCRIBED BELOW DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE UNDERTAKEN BY I.S. LAW FIRM, PLLC.