Boundless mission field for Georgian Ombudsman05.08.2009 | 23:14
There's no time for trifling with a war at the door. However it's a good time to improve the human rights situation in Georgia with new People's Defender Georgy Tugushi taking office (see photo). He is already hailes with complaints of political prisoners, aggrieved oppositionists, discriminated Armenians. Will Tugushi have enough strength (and most importantly - will) to oppose numerous violations of human rights in Georgia?
Over a hundred people in Georgia are imprisoned for nonconformity, as stated by Ex Political Prisoners For Human Rights NGO leader Nana Kakabadze, VZGLYAD reports. Many were arrested and incarcerated for their participation in opposition rallies. As Kakabadze remarked, even reputable rights defending organizations consider them political prisoners.
And the authorities believe there are none of those in Georgia.
According to Kakabadze officially there are 19 thousand prisoners in Georgia, and allegedly - over 25 thousand. With former authorities there were nearly 7 thousand prisoners in jails and colonies. In no time their number increased when Mikheil Saakashvili, moved up to the presidential position by the Rose Revolution declared war on corruption. First victims were people who supported his predecessor and minor bribetakers. Is there anyone who doesn't know the laws Caucasians follow? "You give it to me, I give it to you, third is a crowd", - this is customary business practice. And suddenly all this turns out illegal. Exception is made only to confidants of the authorities. These fortunate souls are respectfully labeled "elite corruptionists" in terms of Georgian experts.
Political prisoners are a minority among the convicts. But Kakabadze's words that their number increases are confirmed by representatives of the Conservative Party of Georgia. "The main causes of arrests of oppositionists were illegal bearing of arms or storage and acquisition of drugs", - the party's leader Zviad Dzidziguri stated at a briefing recently. By way of example he referred to activist Georgy Akhalkatsi who has already been summoned to "a talk" by the police officers three times without any specific charges brought against him. Conservatives called on the international organizations and the diplomatic corps to put pressure on the government in order to stop political persecution of opponents.
Nino Burdzhanadze too appeals to international structures. Amiran Bitszdze, her relative and a supporter was recently abducted and beaten by unknown people. The leadership of Democratic Movement - United Georgia urges presence of an international human rights defender.
Both conservatives and Burdzhanadze's supporters ignored a lower-level rights defending instance - Georgian Ombudsman's administration. And there is a reason why. On July 31 Georgy Tugushi was elected ombudsman to take up his duties on September 16. Before that his predecessor Sozar Subari is in office not being able to influence the situation though.
Samtskhe-Javakheti Armenians addressed the Ombudsman of Georgia up front. They congratulated him on being elected expressing hope he would be able to solve problems of their community and help to release Vaagn Chakhalyan, a political prisoner, as soon as possible. The leader of an Armenian organization was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment "for storage of arms, resistance to authorities and organization of mass disorder". The proceedings were carried out with numerous violations and now his case is reconsidered in the cassation committee.
An open letter of Armenian villagers to the Armenian government shows how important peace in Javakhetia for Georgia is. They are concerned with oppression by ethnic Georgians and Azerbaijani in Georgia. "Anti-Armenian manifestations are especially evident in five Armenian villages of Marneuli district - Khozhorni, Chanakhi, Akhkerpi, Damia, Brdadzor that before 1930 were virtually part of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia", - the letter reads. Villagers ask "to solve economic and social problems of local Armenians and reinforce the Armenian factor in the region". The letter also contains a demand to "consider Armenian population of our villages and their inherent geographical appurtenance to the country of Lori in the process of Armenian-Georgian border demarcation". Tbilisi can take these requests as another infringement on the country's "territorial integrity". But who has made Georgian Armenians want to break away from Georgia?
Rights defender Tugushi will have a wide field of activity in Georgia. However the new ombudsman has already stated that the work of his predecessor, Sozar Subari, who scolded the authorities, was too "politicized". He is not going to have a direct conflict with the government judging by his statements in parliament.
"I have different considerations here, and we discussed that with Subari a number of times. I often told there was certain bias in his reports", - Tugushi told the deputies, Civil.ge reports. When asked to specify he added: "I told him he could avoid being aggressive on some issues, he could make a more accurate legal analysis of some issues. That's it".