Web Portal on Human Rights in Georgia

August War Impact

28.04.2017
 
Natia Gogolashvili

On April 25, representatives of Human Rights Center met victims of the 2008 August War in the villages of Vedzisi and Tkviavi in Gori municipality. Human Rights Center defends rights of the war victims in front of the Strasbourg Court and The Hague International Criminal Court. At the same time, Human Rights Center advocates the victim status for those victimized during the war, who have not yet received the status, with the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia.

It is noteworthy that various crimes were committed during the 2008 August war: murder, killing with particular cruelty, devastation of the property, health damage, and more.
Tkviavi village attorney Giorgi Pavliashvili said 9 persons were killed in the village during the August war. One person is still missing. 

The war significantly affected the Tkviavi village resident E.Ch. Her husband was killed during the war and their house was burnt. However, the family received only compensation in the amount of 10 000 GEL [estimated for the families whose family members were killed] and the state did not assist the family to restore the burnt house. “They did not assist me with the house because they said it had a roof. But did my house was only a roof?! It was absolutely impossible to live in my house,” the victim E.Ch said.

“We were not warned to leave the territory. Davit Bakradze [that time speaker of the Parliament of Georgia] addressed us on TV and suggested to defend the villages with forks and knives and not to leave the territory. Indeed, we did not leave our village. But, on August 9, when our tanks were retreating, we also left the village. My husband did not go with me. Tkviavi was bombed on August 11. On August 10, my husband left the village but returned back soon to guard the house. On August 12 he was killed. Initially they took the tractor, and my husband was watching it hidden in the garden. He called me at 3:30 pm and said that robbers had come to take our Jeep but we had left the village by that car and they could not find it. They had full information about our property and knew the name of my husband. Three minutes after the incident he called me and sounded very alarmed. He promised to leave the village and suddenly cut the line. I kept on calling him but he never replied. We could not get news about him for two weeks. Finally I was told that he was taken hostage and they were demanding money. Then my son was warned not to pay anything to anybody because his father was already killed and buried. He was killed on August 12 and on August 17 the Russian soldiers buried him in our garden,” E.Ch recalled. 

The brother of the killed person told more details about the murder of G.K. because he was in Tkviavi village together with him. “Russian military vehicles entered the village, Ossetians were following them. They burnt several houses in the village and I witnessed everything. Then they broke into my house, took the tractor, started beating me but my brother rescued me or they would have killed me too. They were young boys. Later different people came and asked about the car. My brother and I were hiding in the neighbor’s garden. My brother was worried about the house and decided to go home. As soon as he went, two armed people approached me and pushed me into pig’s house kicking; they threatened with automatic gun. After that, my neighbor and I went to my brother’s house to look for him. The house was on fire, everything was in smoke. We were looking for his body but could not find the corpse. Finally we discovered him at the window; he was tortured before being killed; everything was smashed in the house,” G.K said.

Another resident of Tkviavi village B.M said his father and uncle were killed during the August war. On August 12 the brothers were shot on the balcony of their house. In that moment, B.M’s mother was also at home. “My mother was looking after two dead persons during 5 days. She tried to protect the corpses of the dead father and uncle from being spoilt and eaten by animals. I arrived in the village on August 17. My mother had asked five Russian soldiers to dig the graves. She died 2 years ago. She lived horrible 7 years since the war; the August war significantly affected her health. She received huge psychological trauma,” the victim B.M. 

Resident of Tirdznisi village N.T was hostage in the Tskhinvali detention setting during the August war. “My brother, mother and I stayed in the village during the war. The rest of our family members had gone to Tbilisi on August 7. Before the war, we lived ordinary life in the village. We were not going to leave the village at all. We hoped the tension will finish soon. On August 12, armed military formations entered the village, started intimidation and robbing of the village. Russians also arrived in the village. Our village got crowded with Russian people and looters were following them. I had a bakery and they robbed and destroyed everything. On August 12, when large-scaled looting started, the armed people beat my brother and the neighbor. Then they put us in the car and drove away. Having driven 500 meters, they pushed us out of the car. My brother and neighbor ran away but I was caught again and they took me to Tskhinvali. My brother was brutally beaten; his limbs and arm were broken,” N.T said.

According to N.T he and five more neighbors were in the Tskhinvali pre-trial detention setting. As he said, about 185 people were placed in each setting. Until the cell got overcrowded, they were beating the people during 3-4 days. “When a lot of people were brought to the setting, they stopped beating us. They used to take us to work – we had to clean the burnt houses. I did not but some of hostages hadd to bury dead people,” N.T recalled. He spent 16 days in the Tskhinvali detention setting until the Red Cross took him together with other hostages from Tskhinvali.

Lawyer of Human Rights Center Ana Gurieli said that in fact, the Government of Georgia does not have communication with the victims that results in series of problems.

“Our visit in the Gori municipality villages revealed extremely grave economic and social problems of the internally displaced persons. Conversation with the victims showed that bodies of both central and local governments carry out insufficient communication with the victims.
The citizens have meager information about the investigation, about concrete measures taken by the investigative bodies and they do not know whether they have victim status or not. Those, who know that they have the status, they do not know how they received the status. The feelings of the people are adequate to their economic and social conditions; useless process of the past years affected their attitude towards positive expectations. It is noteworthy that the main priority of the victims is to get the compensation that is absolutely logic considering their social state. The need of employment and social allowances are also very urgent issues,” Ana Gurieli said. 

The lawyer added that the victims have very little information about the ICC and investigation into the August war. Consequently, they have very low expectations from the investigation. 

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