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Human Rights Center continues monitoring of the villages alongside the occupation line (with Photo Reportage)

25.04.2019

Lado Bitchashvili, Shida Kartli

“The steps taken so far are not enough and do not meet the needs of the villages alongside the occupation line. The state shall have more active policy to resolve the problems of the local population,” Ucha Nanuashvili, project manager at Human Rights Center, evaluated the situation in the villages close to the occupation line in Kareli municipality.

Human Rights Center started monitoring from Atotsi village, which has the status of mountainous area under the Law of Georgia on the Development of Mountainous Region but the locals said it could not change their life for much better. They still have problems with drinking and irrigation water. Considering the current situation, social benefits envisaged under the Law of Mountainous Regions could not reduce migration. Agricultural plots of one part of the villagers are now on the occupied territory. Local Merab Zanadze said that it was first time this year when they started cultivation of the land close to the occupation line. 

“Since the members of the Anti-Occupation Movement patrol alongside the occupation line and monitor the area, we feel safer and started cultivation of our plots. In the past years, we could not approach our plots because of unsafe situation as the military officers used to arrive from the occupied territory,” Zarnadze said. 

Residents of Atotsi village told the monitoring group of Human Rights Center that there are many problems in their village. Although boring-wells were done, they still have problems with the drinking water. 

The road from Atotsi village to the occupation line is in poor conditions and in bad weather cars cannot move there. HRC monitoring group managed to approach the occupation line by tractor. The Anti-Occupation Movement has been patrolling in the village for several months already. They set up tents in the field and observe the movement of occupants. As the members of the Movement said, often the occupation regime formations enter the Georgia-controlled territory. 

“Often the military officers of the occupation regime arrive in the Georgia-controlled territory, we video-document those facts and publish in social networks. The result of our activity is that since we started patrolling here, nobody was kidnapped from Atotsi village. The so-called demarcation process is also stopped; they just installed poles in the area,” Mikheil Baliashvili from the Anti-Occupation Movement said. 

HRC representative Ucha Nanuashvili examined the situation alongside the occupation line, namely those places where iron poles are installed. He said, the monitoring revealed that the state shall take effective steps to resolve the security problems in these villages. 

“The purpose of the monitoring is to obtain updated information from the villages alongside the occupation line. Problems of safety are still urgent and recently we observed some incidents too. Citizens do not feel themselves protected. In this light, the State is responsible to create all conditions to protect rights and safety of locals; and they need to take radical measures for that. For example, more police checkpoints shall be opened in the villages close to the occupation line. Besides that, police officers should patrol more often. There are settlements, where there are no checkpoints and it creates serious problems for locals. In order to enable people to feel safer, we need more checkpoints close to settlements and not far from them, like we have now. There are many social-economic problems too: no roads, infrastructural problems, problems with drinking and irrigation water that make life in these villages unbearable for the local people. Consequently, they are compelled to leave villages and unfortunately this tendency continues. You can find very few young people in these villages. It is a serious problem and the state shall be aware of it,” Ucha Nanuashvili said. 

After Atotsi village, HRC monitoring group went to another village adjacent to the occupation line – Tchvrinisi. As locals said, in the past years, they were often captured on the Georgia-controlled territory; the representatives of the occupation regime used to take them to the occupied territory, took their photos and judged them for illegal crossing of the so-called border; having paid the fine, they were released. The locals said, people permanently abandon the village because of poor social-economic conditions. Big part of the forest and pastures in the Tchvrinisi village is now on the occupied territory. So, locals cannot use the firewood and pastures that further deteriorated their economic conditions. In addition to that, the village could not get the status of mountainous village for what locals cannot enjoy the benefits envisaged under the law. 

“Very little was done here. For example, this village could not receive the status of mountainous village because it cannot meet one of the criteria determined by the law. We need to adopt special law, which will improve social-economic conditions in the villages adjacent to the occupation line. Many settlements are without the status and it should be compensated with special programs which will be oriented to address the needs of the people living in the conflict affected villages,” Ucha Nanuashvili said. 

Human Rights Center continues monitoring of the situation in the villages adjacent to the occupation line in the frame of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee supported project. In the frame of the project, in February 2019, HRC published special report “Zone of Barbed Wires”, which describes the situation alongside the occupation line. 


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