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Government Has Crossed the Line

24.12.2007
The report of the Human Rights Watch, “Crossing the Line’, that deals with the events of November 7 in Tbilisi, caused various reactions in Georgia.
The report of 102 pages gives detailed information about the dispersal of peaceful demonstrators and TV Company “Imedi”; the materials were provided by eye-witnesses of the dispersal. It is the most scrupulous report of November 7 events so far.

“The results of our survey showed that Georgian Government had crossed the line when policemen were chasing and beating peaceful demonstrators; threatened and assaulted journalists. Special Operation on November 7 was not a legitimate source to establish public order in the capital. They seriously damaged the reputation of Georgia in the field of human rights,’ said Holly Carter, director of the European and Central Asia Division of the Human Rights Watch.
The report significantly opposes the estimation of the Georgian government in which the latter claims that Georgia is the most democratic country among post-soviet republics.

“Georgian government applied to excessive power on November 7 when they blatantly dispersed protesters in the capital and broke into the office of the private TV Company “Imedi”, states the report of the Human Rights Watch.
The report turned out completely unexpected for the Georgian Authority. Eka Tkeshelashvili, the Justice Minister of Georgia, seemed a bit confused during the first briefing. She refused to comment on the report and requested time to look through it. However, during initial brief comments, the Minister stated that having issued similar report in this particular situation will damage the reputation of the organization. “I am surprised why they did not foresee how it could influence on their image. Despite my deep respect to the USA and President Bush’s Administration, I should rather say that Human Rights Watch was too biased”, said Eka Tkeshelashvili during her interview in the “Imedi TV” talk-show “Ghia Eteri” (Open Air).

Opposition leaders and human rights organizations also have diverse position about the report.
Tina Khidasheli, member of the Republic Party, pointed out that it is not the only case when the Human Rights Watch prepares critical report on Georgia. Thus it is a bit strange for her why the previous one had caused such an acute reaction from authority members.

Tina Khidasheli: “Reports of the human rights organizations are important when they are immediate. If the government is changed, the report will lose its effectiveness. The new government might be better than the previous one. The report is valuable when the violations of the authority are discussed until the government is changed and improvement of the situation as well as unbiased investigation can be still demanded. Thus I think this report was timely and impartial.”
Khidasheli thinks that Georgia’s reputation has been damaged in the international society long before.

“The authority did its best to lose credibility in the international society.”
Non-governmental organization Human Rights Center agrees the estimation made by the Human Rights Watch, Soso Papuashvili, the lawyer for the center stated:
“The report of the Human Rights Watch published on December 20 2007, “Crossing the Line”, is a complete and unbiased assessment of the events of November 7 in Georgia. The report provides facts of the harassment against demonstrators based on personal interviews with victims and investigation as well as lawful analyze of the government’s activities on November 7 in order to disperse the demonstration. The report also discusses the establishment of the governmental control on Georgian broadcasting sources.

The estimations of the Human Rights Watch and the facts provided in the report fully coincide with the facts and estimations given in the report of the Human Rights Center “One Week of Violence”.
We hope that the Georgian authority will comply with the recommendations given in both reports.”

Nona Suvariani, Tbilisi 

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