HUMAN RIGHTS IN GEORGIA
THE INDEPENDENT SOCIETY "HUMAN RIGHTS IN GEORGIA" Monthly bulletin #3 (29) 2001
HUMAN RIGHTS INFORMATION AND DOCUMENTATION CENTER – HUMAN RIGHTS LIBRARY
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality "
Article 15. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
fact of racial discrimination in Tbilisi
Members of the opposition party severely beaten
Georgian diplomat in prison
What is to come with Avchala colony
Amnesty International Tbilisi Initiative Group is active
Institute of Liberty against bosses of energy
Border Guard Arrested for three months
Health Condition of Asanidze gets worse
Giga Bokeria protests
Police Officer released
Religious intolerance in Georgia
Will Georgia protect religious freedom?
Priest's 'trail of terror' continues
Names of the Persons who kidnapped two Spanish businessmen are known
Prisoners on Hunger Strike
100 prisoners on strike in Ksani and Avchala Colonies
Ministry of State Security sues "Rustavi 2" for defamation
"Hot Line" for abused children
Water shortage affected colonies in Rustavi
Kutaisi isolator – Dreadful picture
And Still: Are human rights violated in Georgia?
Call for Proposals
On The 5th of March Nigerian citizen Tony Rizana who temporarily resides in Georgia addressed Independent Society "Human Rights in Georgia". According to him, on the 4th of March at night unknown individuals from Rizana's neighborhood have severely beaten his friend Ernest Joku. Joku is in hospital at this time undergoing medical treatment. The reason why he was beaten apparently was racial issue. Tony Rizana informed about the fact Varketili Police. According to police the investigation proceedings had been launched.
Independent Society "Human Rights In Georgia" is seriously concerned about increased facts of racial discrimination in Georgia and calls Georgian authorities to force law enforcement bodies investigate the case. In past issues of our bulletin we were informing our reader audience about facts of racial discrimination by Georgian police officers themselves against visiting foreign citizens that leaves less hope for their affirmative action to corect the situation.
On March 3 roughly at 8.30 p.m. at metro station Rustaveli members of opposition party "Georgian Helsinki Union" Rezo Kemularia and Vaso Darsalia were severely beaten. On the 4th of March they were placed in Neuro Surgical divison of Republican Hospital. Due to darkness victims of attack do not remember neither faces of attackers nor the moment of attack. According to them fact is linked with their political activities.
According to head of Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights Protection Elene Tevdoradze, inspite of petitions of citizens, due to the ongoing pressure from American side the question of pardoning Georgian diplomat Giorgi Makharadze won't be in agenda. For car accident that took place in Washington D.C. in 1996 causing the death of 16 years old girl, Advisor of Georgian ambassador in the U.S. Giorgi Makharadze was going to serve 21 years in prison. however later, after his extradition to Georgia according to the law Georgian Court changed verdict , and reduced it to 10 years. According to Tevdoradze the U.S. insists Makharadze to serve whole sentence even though his poor health conditions. Since his extradition to Georgia on 30th of July, Makharadze is still in Republican Prison Hospital. According to head of Penitentiary Department, former diplomat will stay there until full recovery. Doctors of Makharadze argue that he is seriously ill, he has heart troubles and suffers from high blood pressure and nervouses.
22 juvenile prisoners who were removed from Avchala Colony by Penitentiary Department will be placed in recently emptied Khoni Colony. According to Zurab Mskhvilidze, head of Penitentiary Department, it was originally intended to locate juveniles in new colony but due to financial problems they couldn't make it happen - Juveniles simply could not be kept locked in because of shortage of the money for their maintenance. They were replaced a week ago by 110 prisoners from Khoni colony, mainly former police officers who committed different crimes and serving sentences in jail. Mskhvilidze also mentioned that it is planned in future to sell khoni colony building and spend that money on improvement of penitentiary system.
On the 8th of March Amnesty International Tbilisi Initiative Group arranged a silent demonstration at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University within the Campaign Against Torture which aimed to raise public awareness in facts torture and violence against women. Students joined the demonstration soon. Mass media also got involved.
At the beginning little clash between members of Tbilisi Amnesty International initiative group and University guard took place. Guards tried to seize the event and cut up the line that said "Torture Free Zone". After meeting with the university administration the demonstration went on, but with the condition not to unfold the line. It is likely that University authorities are afraid of student activity and their involvement in political issues and they are doing "good job" so far in keeping them off.
The demonstration was recorded by TV companies "Rustavi 2", "Kavkasia", "Metskhre Arkhi" and so on… The representatives of agencies "Gea", "Iveria Express" and other were also present.
Journalists emphasized that seizure of peaceful demonstration and attempts to undermine such activities violates fundamental principles of democracy and is serious violation of human rights.
According to member of NGO - Institute of Liberty Mr.Givi Targamadze,"representatives of National Electro Energetic Regulation Commission have to resign or electro energy as such will end its existence". Targamadze is against raising tariff on energy and claims that "Georgian Energetic Mafia should be held responsible for tariff raise – they simply want to get more money".
According to Targamadze, journalist investigations revealed facts of corruption among the energy officials. Nowadays the debts in energy sphere equals to 800 million Georgian Lari that is the money unpaid by the consumers because of the rising costs.
Tbilisi Isani-Samgori court ordered three months of plenimilary imprisonment for Private Zaza Sakhvadze. Allegedly, at the border point "Red Bridge" Sakhvadze killed citizen of Georgia, Pizul Khuseinov. Sakhvadze pleeds not guilty and claims that he fired only when trespasser tried to take away his machine gun.
Guliko Asanidze - spouse of former boss of Batumi Tobacco factory, complains about worse health condition of her husband. According to her, Asanidze suffers from nervouses and insomnia in prison. Head of Batumi Security Isolator permitted relatives of Asanidze to visit him almost every day.
As a reminder, according to the Supreme court decision Asanidze had to be released but somehow it didn't happen. It is hard to say who has Supreme Power in the country if Court's decisions are ignored.
According to Giga Bokeria - representative of NGO "Institute of Liberty", Since our country joined Council of Europe our government thinks it can do everything they desire with its mandate.
Georgian Government structures interfere in the sphere of freedom of speech whenever and how hey wish. As the example, Bokeria named the fact when one of the parties began collecting signatures for impeachment procedures against President, Ministry of Security openly declared that they won't let it happen. Fortunately they were not arrested but were forbidden to continue collecting such signatures.
Mtatsminda-Krtsanisi court released Police Officer Revaz Bzishvili who was originally sentenced two years of imprisonment for the excession of duty. In November 1999 at Baratashvili Bridge victim David Vashakmadze was brutally beaten by police officers and died as a result. One of the participants of this brutal act was Bzishvili.
On Saturday, March 10, in Mtskheta, Basili mkalavishvili -defrocked priest and his group with the help from Ministry of Interior seized the truck that carried Bibles and religious literature belonging to the Bible society. Mkalavishvili group and representatives of the Ministry of Interior burned the literature. This is one more example of religious intolerance towards newly established religious groups in the country.
"We have burned, we are burning, we will burn!" - announced Mikheil Nikoleishvili,- member of the Gldani diocese after participating in a raid on a publishing house where literature for Jehovah's Witnesses was being printed. An elderly woman who joined in the raid, was ardently screaming: "Yes—I burned their literature, and I'll burn it again!" In that instance 5,000 pieces of Bible literature, mainly religious brochures went up into flames on the street by publishing house.
Vasili Mkalavishvili, former Orthodox priest and self-appointed leader of the mob, proudly added: "I am very satisfied, for today we have saved 5,000 Orthodox souls, and did not allow these apostles of the Antichrist, these representatives of the sect of the Jehovists to spiritually poison Georgian people."
A person could easily lose count of how many actions took place in recent months in Georgia against religious freedom. Through invasions in meetings where families gather to worship peacefully, even in private homes, the mobs have punched, dragged, kicked and bruised people whose only "crime" was their choice of different faith. Other Protestant groups have experienced similar attacks, including against American Baptists who were visiting Georgia last week of March.
United States Congressman Christopher Smith, Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe responded to the reports: "A person, whether he or she be a Jehovah's Witness, or any other minority faith, should never, ever be singled out and subjected to harassment, beatings, and abuse because of that. . . . We've been following the worsening developments in Georgia against minority faiths, and Jehovah's Witnesses in particular. . . . The glide path here is a negative one. That mobs are being incited to, not only burn literature, which is totally contrary to the Helsinki accords—it reminds some of us of the book burnings that happened during the Nazi years. . . . These mob attacks where police looking askance as people are attacked, beaten, even in courtrooms. And I've seen video evidence of that. It's very, very troubling. . . . Jehovah's Witnesses are being targeted in a very, very cruel way."
Georgian supreme Court issued the statement concerning the fact that says: "The Supreme Court condemns such acts and other expressions of religious extremism and intolerance. The Supreme Court appeals to law enforcement structures to take appropriate measures against those who believe themselves to be above the law and because of their religious motives make their own "justice". Such acts are not only illegal, but they also create a serious danger for the public and the State."
When Priest Basili Mkalavishvili and a mob of his followers seized several thousands of Bible-based brochures from a printery located in the Samto Chemical building in Tbilisi and burnt them publicly outside the building, as reported by Rustavi 2 TV, police stood by and watched, making no attempt to intervene. Only after the literature was completely burned police called fire department.
Same evening, during a live television broadcast Mkalavishvili repeated his violent threats against Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses and other religious minorities.
This latest act in Mkalavishvili's ongoing campaign of terror comes on the heels of a published Supreme Court addition to its February 22, 2001 ruling about Jehovah's Witnesses. The Court stated:
"This man has acted with complete impunity from the Police and the Prosecutor's Office for a year and a half so far," said Mamuka Chabashvili, lawyer for Jehovah's Witnesses. "We hope that they will take the latest words of the Supreme Court seriously."
Georgian law enforcement bodies have information about persons who kidnapped two Spanish businessmen on the 30th of November, 2000. According to the Minister of State Security Vakhtang Kutateladze his Ministry together with the Ministry of Interior have information they work with. Kidnapped are alive. Minister is certain that soon they will be released. He advises brother of the kidnapped to seize negotiations on ransom.
20 prisoners went on hungry strike. According to the ministry of Justice 20 prisoners were moved to other prison purely for their security reasons, but according to prisoners it has nothing to do with the truth. Lawyer Ia Gabedava who represents one of the prisoners - Gocha Kapanadze, calls the act illegal. According to her, Zurab Mskviladze, Head of Penitentiary department is going to place ex-representatives of law enforcement bodies with criminals which will undoubtedly result in violent acts against them.
Approximately 100 prisoners are on strike in Ksani and Avchala Colonies demanding the revision of their cases. Most of them are "Mkhedrioni" members and participated in battles for territorial integrity of Georgia. They believe that pardon that took place within the frameworks of so-called "National Reconciliation" and released "Zviadists"- ex-president Gamsakhurdia supporters, has to spread on them too.
Rusudan Beridze, Deputy Head Secretary of the Security Council in issues of Human Rights is against such decision from Commission on Pardon. Beridze declares that employment of such pressure is unacceptable and may cause further complications.
The Ministry of State Security filed a complaint to the Attorney General's Office against TV Company Rustavi 2. In the program "60 minutes" journalists blamed the representatives of the Ministry in trade with arms and drugs in Pankisi Valley.
Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Security Giorgi Baramidze does not exclude the possibility of linkage of several persons with this business. According to him, some of the reasons might be low salaries and poor state budget funding.
Youth Civil Service, affiliated with the City Mayor's Office in Tbilisi, plans to launch "Hot Line" in nearest future. According to the staff members of the service, cases of violations of children's rights became very frequent lately. It served as a reason for launching "Hot Line". The purpose of the project is response to the abuses of children's rights and punishment of the offenders. It is also planned to give free legal consultations to the children whose rights were abused.
Difficulties with water supply in Rustavi affected local colonies as well. As President of NGO "Commonwealth of Prisoners" Ms. Lali Aptsiauri declared on March 15, colonies are supplied with water of awful quality. There are facts of finding frog legs, worms and leaches in the water. The situation is so grave, that family members bring bottles of water to prisoners from home. Temporary Head of #2 Rustavi Colony Lado Imedashvili ordered to begin cleaning water tanks however it is impossible without decent supplies of Chlorine that is necessary to do it, but nether city nor colony have enough financial resources. If sanitary measures aren't taken in time they will have to deal with endangered health conditions of the prisoners.
Kutaisi isolator dark for a week was inlighted also for a week by Representative of the President Temur Shashiasvili after the visit of Lali Aptsiauri head of NGO "Commonwealth of Prisoners". President Representative in order to avoid complications restored the supply of electric power to isolator. But the debt (60. 000 GEL) gives no grounds for "light" future. Debt for water supply (100. 000 GEL) makes picture more grave. Food supply is poor also. According to officials 235. 000 GEL has to transfer to colony these days, but prisoners have 2 days bread stored only. Similar situation is common to other colonies of Western Georgia as well.
36 prisoners going on striking in Ksani colony demend to meed with persons involved in human rights protection – Elene Tevdoradze, Nana Devdariani and Rusudan Beridze. Their health condition is utterly difficult.
On the 15th of March in Geneva, UN Subsidiary Body will discuss the report of Georgian Government on activities carried out by Georgia to meet the requirements of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Rusudan Beridze - Secretary of Security Council in the field of human rights protection commented about the event. She mentioned that Georgia had sent it's report a year ago and after it's discussion expert recommendations and assessments will follow. Georgia has accessed the convention in 1999.
Mrs. Rusuidan Beridze will head Georgian delegation. The delegation also includes the deputy head of human rights protection service Alexander Nandashvili, Georgian Ambassador to Switzerland Amiran Kavadze and Special Envoy in International Organization Alexander Kavsadze.
Information Office of the Council of Europe - Tbilisi is pleased to inform that the Directorate General of Political Affairs of the Council of Europe calls for new Inter-Ethnic projects under the Confidence–building Measures Programme which aims at providing moral and financial support for civil society projects and its main objective is to promote relations between persons belonging to different ethnic groups within a specific country or between two or more neighbouring countries.
Please note that the deadline for the receipt of applications at the Information Office of the Council of Europe-Tbilisi for financing within the framework of the Confidence-building Measures Programme will be 10 May 2001 for projects beginning as of November 2001.
Projects can be submitted by NGOs, local and regional authorities, media and educational establishments. The projects within the framework of the above –mentioned program consist mainly of seminars, training courses, television and radio programmes, the duration of which can not exceed 12 months. The starting date should not be before November 2001 nor after April 2002. In addition to their inter-ethnic character, projects should be relevant to one or more of the various fields of the Organization's intergovernmental work programme, including human and minority rights, democracy, democratic citizenship, media, education, culture, social cohesion, youth, local democracy and transfrontier co-operation.
This year, preference will be given to projects which fit within one or more of the following categories:
· Projects relevant to one or more countries of the Caucasus and South East Europe
· Projects promoting the integration of Roma communities
· Projects promoting Council of Europe legal standards, particularly in the field of the promotion of human and minority rights
· Projects linked to structures set up within or related to the Council of Europe (e.g. Information Offices, Local Democracy Agencies, International NGOs enjoying consultative status with the Council of Europe)
The enclosed information document (Presentation and Guidelines for Applicants) explains the rationale of the programme and the eligibility criteria. Projects should be submitted in accordance with the model application form to be found on page 11 of the attached document.
Completed Application forms (both hard copy as well as its electronic version), are to be submitted to the Information Office of the Council of Europe, Tbilisi. No projects will be accepted after the above deadline.
For further information, please contact:
Information Office of the Council of Europe, Tbilisi;
Contact Person: Nino Kutateladze
Address: 3 Kikodze St, 380007, Georgia
Tel: (9 9532) 98 3215;
Fax: (9 9532) 98 3246;
IN GEORGIA" # 2 (28), 2001
This is monthly bulletin "Human Rights in Georgia"
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