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Saakashvili aims at refugees28.07.2011 | 21:52
Tbilisi authorities are planning the third wave of evictions for refugees born in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. There is information that Tbilisi mayor Gigi Gugulava and his team want to send off even those who were given homes in 2008. NGOs handling issues of forcibly displaced people are ready to counteract arbitrariness of the authorities. Today a large-scale protest action "I am a refugee" will take place in front of the building of parliament in Rustaveli avenue.
Refugee evictions have been on for a year in Tbilisi already. Last summer emigrants from Abkhazia and South Ossetia were literally forced out of places where they lived. We wrote about nearly 200,000 forcibly displaced persons from two Transcaucasian republics now living in Georgia. These people mainly occupied deserted buildings like a hospital in Isani district. Driving people out to remote regions of the country, the authorities of Tbilisi promised to provide "decent compensations". Yet, as it turned out, homes where people were brought to have no electricity and water supply. The nearest shop is seven kilometers away.
Despite protests of evictees and addresses to president Mikheil Saakashvili, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II and even the stronghold of democracy - the United States, Tbilisi authorities keep abusing discretion. Besides, Koba Subeliani, head of the Ministry for Resettlement, that faced a class action suit in the court of Tbilisi confirmed by one thousand and five hundred written notes of refugees, has not been dismissed from the post. Yet, these were his cynical words that so much had been done for displaced people from Abkhazia and South Ossetia last year, that in the past it would have been viewed as the impossible. "It's fantastic that 600 homes have been given to refugees. - the Georgian minister said. - This is a resolved problem, and we must think of other things now" . It was Subeliani who promised that construction works would be continued and as a result all refugees would be given shelters. Yet, it is still unknown what kind of homes the minister referred to.
As experts remark, Tbilisi's situation with evictions is bitter and full of conflicts. Lidia Grafova, head of the All-Russian forum of migrant organizations, believes that deterioration of living conditions of refugees is inacceptable. "It is a violation, of international law too", - she adds. Arnold Stepanyan, chair of Multinational Georgia public movement says that Georgia has no reasonable person that would confirm efficiency of measures taken with regard to evictees. "These people have nothing left. They are not only refugees, they are totally miserable people. I don't think it's right to evict citizens from their temporary residences and throw them onto the street. I am sure if these people were relatives of people in the city administration they would not face that. This is absolutely evident that officials don't care about people. Unfortunately, the inhuman approach toward citizens has become normal in many spheres", - he emphasized.
According to Stepanyan, one should be insane to reflect on positive results in the refugee issue - like Koba Subeliani did. "I can say that even the Interior ministry has made more progress solving the refugee issue than the ministry in charge of these people has", - he added.
What's the reason for this inhuman approach to people seeking refuge in the Georgian capital? Some experts believe that the authorities have some definite ideas to use buildings presently occupied by refugees. Why not: it's all in line with the policy of privatization, hunt for Eurobonds and investments that Saakashvili pursues to pay out the immense external debt. Mikheil Nikolayevich, look out not to lose the last support inside the country.
The most curious thing is that Tbilisi authorities want to evict even those whom they gave homes three years ago. As David Malazonia, a member of the Movement for Resistance that protests against eviction of refugees, said, presently Saakashvili is after hospital 8 in Sanzon where refugees from Abkhazia and South Ossetia now live. Yet, non-governmental organizations don't want to just stand and watch people being evicted. According to Manuchar Sigua from the Civil Movement of Refugees, "I am refugee" action will be held in front of the building of parliament today in order to stop forcible evictions. This will be the first serious warning for Saakashvili.