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In the period of a disorderly change of power, when parties, individuals and leaders were replaced, Azerbaijan lost many reputable representatives. Those who could, in order to avoid tragic events, urgently emigrated from the country.

This same prehistory is a description of the life of the father of our heroine Hasanali Sultan-bey Vekilov. The young man of the Beks dynasty, was born in 1887 in the village of Chiva Sharra-Deralejza. He received his primary education in the Yerevan Grammar School, and then graduated from the law faculty in Russia. After that, he returned to the Caucasus, lived in Tbilisi, where he met Maria, whom later he got married. Being a prominent figure in the times of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, in 1920, after the establishment of the Soviet regime in the Caucasus, he emigrated to Turkey. My wife refused to go with him.

But being active in life, one does not stop and continues to work for the sake of the Motherland. Once he meets Sophia, the Crimean Tatar. Bek, who gave up on his house, status, religion and documents, for which he could not continue to officially work as a lawyer, gave himself a second chance. With his wife they move to Paris, where in 1932 our heroine – Leila Vekilli- was born.

In 2 months` time the family returned to Turkey again. Here Leila, the only child in the family, grew up, studied at the Notre Dame French Gymnasium No. 1. Today these gymnasiums are considered to be a very prestigious place for learning.

"Where are you from?"

"I am from Azerbaijan," Leila replies, who has never been to neither Baku nor Azerbaijan, and has who lost all contacts with her relatives.

"My childhood has passed in stories about my homeland. My had many friends from Azerbaijan. And I also speak Russian. That was father`s wish,  he really liked the Russian language and Russian literature. Every Thursday Azerbaijani families gathered in our house, including grandmother Shirin Shafiyeva's cousin - prominent Turkish artist Ibrahim Safi. And long discussions began about what was happening in Azerbaijan. Even when they did not know what, they would find the topic for the conversation ... "


After graduating from the Lyceum, she goes to conquer the city, which gave her life. A student of the Sorbonne, the oldest and most famous higher educational institution in France, she graduated from the sociology department, but family, blood and memory still led her into politics. She devoted all his life to highlighting the problems of poor people who, through the will of history, have fallen into the midst of wars and coups.

Starting her career as an independent journalist, she studied the Muslim question. Very soon she became part of the Sipa-Press team, not only as a journalist, but also as a screenwriter. Sipa-Press is an agency represented in 178 countries around the world. She began to visit hot spots, travel the world, she writes, and later, when words were not enough, she took the camera.

Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, the war in Palestine, civil wars in Nicaragua and Algeria ... In Algeria, by the way, she experienced a serious car accident. Broken bones, a meeting with death, and there, in 1965, she meets with the great Che. The same Marxist revolutionist and politician Ernesto Che Guevara! Their meeting lasted 3 hours!

"He was a great idealist, not all his dreams could come true - that I understand now, when I'm 60".


After another 5 years in France, she had a chance to talk to Nazim Hikmet, the founder of Turkish revolutionary poetry.

Leyla Vekilli was the chief editor of the journal DEFI, which broadcast military events through the eyes of ordinary people. In her team, there were barely 10 foreign journalists from around the world, not counting the implementation team, the administration and others.

In addition, she became one of the founders of the Turkish film festival in France.

Almost at the age of 80, she received a letter from Samed Vekilov with photos of her father and uncle. She cried for a few days, admiring the photos, because she herself was looking for her relatives during all her life. In the course of her searches, she even reached India, but it was her namesake. Almost losing hope, she finally found a family - the descendants themselves found her.

At the age of 79 visited Baku for the first time.

"Can a woman dream about anything bigger?" - Leila-khanum, who left this world on November 26 last year, used to say. Her daughter Denise was 23 years old when she passed away in a car accident. Her only son Chingiz lives in France today.

Leyla-khanum is a representative of the ancient Vekilov family, and her legacy is the legacy of an international military journalist, screenwriter, director who is not known in Azerbaijan.

We express special gratitude for the creation of the material to Samed Vekilov.

Text: Arzu Jaid