Minorities, News

Erisimedi – a village on the Georgia-Azerbaijan border

by | May 6, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Erisimedi is a small village right on the Georgia-Azerbaijan border with a population of not more than a few hundred. It belongs to the Georgian municipality Sighnagi, but lacks a clear demarcation of the border with Azerbaijan, which has caused

Minorities, News

Georgians are split on minorities issues

by | May 6, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The latest survey of public attitudes, published by National Democratic Institute (NDI), shows that Georgians are split in their views on the need to protect minorities. When it comes to protection of gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities,

Minorities, News

Transsexuals excluded from debate about discrimination

by | May 5, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Transsexuals demonstrated outside a TV studio in Georgia on Saturday because they were not allowed to take part in a debate about a new anti-discrimination law. Locals in Gori, a town close to the capital, came to the studio building of Trialeti TV

Minorities, News

Muslims in Batumi hoping for permission to build new mosque

by | April 28, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--For more than a decade, Muslims in Batumi have failed to get permission to build a second mosque in the city. The one they have is not big enough to meet demand. Every Friday, several thousands of Muslims come to Orta Jame Mosque in Batumi,

Minorities, News

One murdered, prayer house burnt in Muslim village

by | April 26, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--In a Muslim village near Tbilisi, a man was recently stabbed to death, and three days later a prayer house was put on fire. Is there a connection? DF Watch went there to investigate. The village is called Mughanlo and lies about 30 minutes’ drive east

Minorities, News

Memorial to the Armenian genocide unveiled in Tbilisi

by | April 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A memorial to the Armenian genocide was unveiled in Tbilisi on Monday. The memorial is made of stone and stands in the yard of Surb Etchmiadzin Church in the capital. Levon Isakhanian, representative of the Armenian community in Georgia,

Minorities, Youth

School children in Tbilisi harassed due to teacher neglect

by | April 19, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A new study has found that children in Georgian schools are verbally and physically harassed because of their ethnicity, belief, appearance or for other reasons. The study is based on interviews with all pupils from 8th to 11th grade at six public

Minorities, News

What can be done to improve integration of minorities?

by | April 17, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--DFWatch organized a discussion about the problem minorities are experiencing with getting involved in politics and state affairs. A representative of a minority diaspora and a spokesperson for an opposition party participated in our discussion.

Minorities, News, Youth

Why do so few girls finish school in Duzagrama?

by | April 13, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Pariz Alakhverdiani, 17, is in 12th grade at the public school in Duzagrama, a small village in southeast Georgia populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis. Alakhverdiani wants to study at the Medical University in Tbilisi and has decided to become a dentist.

Minorities, News

Adjara changes its decision to allow new mosque in Batumi

by | April 8, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--In Georgia's southwestern Adjara region, authorities have changed their decision to allow the Muslim population to build a new mosque in Batumi, a city on the shores of the Black Sea. Tens of thousands of Muslims live in different villages and

Minorities, News

Bullying in schools is a persistent problem in Georgia

by | April 6, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A human rights group in Georgia warns of an alarming trend of intolerance of religious minorities in public schools. Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) studied eight schools in Tbilisi and found that the Ministry of Education has not

Minorities, News

Improved human rights in Georgia, but minorities are discriminated

by | April 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Discrimination of sexual, ethnic and religious minorities, child marriage, family violence, bullying in schools, people affected by hydro power development and mistreatment of prisoners. These are some of the human rights challenges in the Georgian

Minorities, News

Discussion: Ethnic minorities and language skills

by | March 31, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Representatives of NGOs working with minority issues took part in a discussion organized by DFWatch.net about how ethnic minorities often lack skills in Georgia's only official language - Georgian. Agit Mirzoev, Executive Director of Analytical

Minorities, News

Georgian PM wants constitutional block against same-sex marriage

by | March 28, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian prime minister wants to define a family as a union between a man and a woman. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili says he has asked the constitutional commission to look at his proposal. “Though according to the current legislation,

Minorities, News

EU criticizes Georgia for failing to protect human rights

by | March 28, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The EU criticizes Georgia for not having done enough in 2013 to protect freedom of speech and prevent violent outbreaks of islamophobia and homophobia. The new report is published by the European Commission and is part of the implementation of the

Minorities, News

Georgia to start funding religious minorities

by | March 27, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia will finance four traditional religious confessions besides the Orthodox Church. Non-traditional religions will not receive financing. Until now, the Orthodox Church has received financing from the state, the argument being

Minorities, News

LGBT group in Georgia cancels May 17 demonstration

by | March 27, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Identoba, an organization which protects the rights of sexual minorities in Georgia, has decided to not mark the international day against homophobia May 17. Last year, the organization announced it would organize a demonstration for the rights

Minorities, News

Armenians and Doukhobors in Gorelovka, Georgia

by | March 26, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Gorelovka is a small village in Samtskhe-Javakheti, a region to the south of Georgia populated by ethnic Armenians, Russian Doukhobors and Georgians who have been resettled from Adigeni and Khulo because of landslides. The village is small and,

Minorities, News

Georgian anti-gay activists warn of tougher line

by | March 25, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Anti-gay activists and clerics want to be more tough toward LGBT rights activists if the latter demonstrate for their rights on May 17, on the one-year anniversary of a violent attacks on them organized by Orthodox priests. Pressed with multiple

Minorities, News

Debate: Minorities and local government reform in Georgia

by | March 20, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--On March 14 , DFWatch.net organized a discussion about ethnic minorities’ participation problems in pre-election process. The non-parliamentary opposition and representatives of NGOs working with minority rights participated

Minorities, News

Jehova’s Witnesses accused of stoking separatism in Georgia

by | March 14, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Friday, about 100 Orthodox Christians demonstrated in Georgia against Jehovah’s Witnesses constructing a congregation center in their town. The Witnesses began building a Kingdom Hall in the western town of Khobi about a week ago. Today, opponents were

Minorities, News

Azerbaijani women in Marneuli

by | March 12, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--83 percent of residents in Marneuli, a city in southern Georgia, are Azerbaijanis. Nearby villages are inhabited by Azerbaijanis too. Lack of knowledge of the official language, deficit of jobs, almost nonexistent infrastructure - this is a short list of the problems that

Minorities, News

Georgian receives Women of Courage Award

by | March 5, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Rusudan Gotsiridze, Bishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia, has been given the International Women of Courage Award 2014. The award ceremony was held in Washington DC. Gotsiridze received the award because of her merits in promoting

Minorities, News

Glimpses of daily life in Iormughanlo, Georgia

by | February 25, 2014

Iormughanlo is a village at the river Iori and lies in the Kakheti region in the south eastern part of Georgia. The village has a population of not more than 2 000, according to the most recent census data, predominantly ethic Azeris. The majority of families in Iormughanlo have sheep as a livelihood. While walking in the streets of the village, drops of blood are visible from recently killed animals, especially on Fridays, the market day. On Friday morning, a large market is organized some way out of the village limits, on the right side of the highway. People mostly sell fruits and vegetables, meat and other products, but you can also buy clothes and household items. This man is a market guard. Even when everybody has left and the market is over, he is always at his wagon protecting the area from being robbed. He is expecting a print of a picture we took of him, to display at his wagon someday. Shortly after afternoon, the market is completely empty. Dogs are walking around looking for food. This homeless man says he always ...

Minorities, News

How can minority women get into politics in Georgia?

by | February 19, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Sabina Talibova is an ethnic Azerbaijanian living in Marneuli. Some time ago, she became involved in several non-governmental organizations which are working to engage women more in employment and politics. DF Watch talked to her about problems

Minorities, News

Georgia creates new agency for religious issues

by | February 19, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia is planning to create a new agency that will work on religious issues. Minister of Reconciliation and Equality Paata Zakareishvili on Tuesday explained that the new body will implement a recent initiative by the government

Minorities, News

Constitutional Court in Georgia lifts ban on homosexuals giving blood

by | February 11, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The constitutional court in Georgia has struck down a thirteen year old ban on homosexual men becoming blood donors. The court agreed with a complaint from five Georgian citizens and recognized several articles of an order issued by the labor, health

Minorities, News

January 1 not the first attack on Jehova’s Witnesses in Ozurgeti

by | February 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--When strangers attacked a car and a house where Jehova's Witnesses are meeting in Ozurgeti, Georgia, on January 1, it was not the first such attack. Two years ago, strangers broke the windows of Kingdom Hall in Ozurgeti. The perpetrators were

Minorities, News

Chechen refugees feel harassed by Georgian counterintelligence

by | January 27, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Some of the Chechens in Pankisi Gorge close to the Russian border say they are blackmailed and harassed by Georgian counterintelligence. Saikhan Muzayev, a former Russian and Arabic translator for the Refugee Ministry, said at a press

Minorities, News

Muslims in Georgia feel pressured by law enforcement

by | January 24, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims in Georgia say they are being pressured by law enforcement bodies. Clerics from the Muslims community January 22 met with the Public Defender. According to the Ombudsman’s office, the meeting dealt with problems they are experiencing and

Minorities, News

HRW highlights recent attacks on minorities in Georgia

by | January 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Human Rights Watch criticizes Georgia in its World Report 2014 for not having done enough to protect the rights of religious minorities and LGBT. When it comes to religious rights, the organization points out that the Muslim minority has experienced

Minorities, News

Georgian Muslims to have two muftis

by | January 16, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims in Georgia will from now on have two muftis instead of one. This was decided at a session of the Administration of Muslims of all Georgia on January 9. Jemal Paksadze, who used to be the Mufti of all Georgia, from now on will be mufti of

Minorities, News

New details may help find who attacked Jehova’s Witnesses

by | January 14, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--New details might help police find out who attacked Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ozurgeti two weeks ago. In the attack, which took place on January 1, strangers broke the windows of a car the Witnesses were sitting in and threw stones at the building where

Minorities, News

Nigerian king concerned about attack on own citizen in Georgia

by | January 11, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A man presenting himself as a king has appealed to the Georgian government for better protection of his fellow countrymen after a Nigerian was brutally attacked in Tbilisi. Richard Arize, presented by Rustavi 2 as a king of Igbo-Ukwu, a town in

Minorities, News

Georgian Patriarch: Glad gay marriage is not EU requirement

by | January 10, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Patriarch’s Christmas epistle continues to cause controversy in Georgia. Not only in vitro fertilization and the use of surrogate mothers, but also what he wrote about sexual minorities. "It’s a pity that minority groups, that have sharply

Minorities, News

Chechen refugees trying to find their place in Georgian society

by | January 5, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--For the last 14 years, Kariata Tsimirbulatova has lived with her husband and four children in Duisi, a village in a valley in the northeastern part of Georgia near the border to Chechnya called Pankisi Gorge. The members of her family have recently

Minorities, News

Jehovah’s Witnesses attacked in Ozurgeti

by | January 3, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--January 1, unknown persons attacked a gathering of Jehovah's Witnesses in Ozurgeti. According to local media in the Guria region, the assailants broke the windows of a car the Jehovah's Witnesses were sitting in and threw stones at the building where they

Minorities, News

Will local government reform encourage separatism in Georgia?

by | January 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A draft law that will reform local government is causing controversy in Georgia, as some think it may encourage separatism and jeopardize the country’s integrity. This issue is problematic because the Soviet government created three autonomous

Minorities, News

Language barrier prevents minorities from going into politics

by | December 30, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Participants at a round table discussion organized by DF Watch said lack of language skills is preventing ethnic minorities from engaging in politics in Georgia. The discussion was held on December 28, and the topic was what obstacles there are

Minorities, News

Group criticizes Georgia for handling of religious conflicts

by | December 23, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--After a year of religious conflict in three Georgian villages, neither Christians nor Muslims are fully satisfied with the way the problem was solved. The Christians do not exclude that conflict might erupt again, while the Muslims still have no

Minorities, News

Georgia introduces law against discrimination

by | December 18, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Ministry of Justice has prepared a draft law on anti-discrimination. The proposal aims at eliminating all forms of discrimination, Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani explained as she met human rights organizations, representatives of

Minorities, News

Increasing discrimination of religious minorities in Georgia

by | December 8, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--A human rights group claims there has been an increase in discrimination of religious minorities in Georgia in 2013. On November 15, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Kingdom Hall, located in Upper Etseri, Samegrelo, West Georgia, was shot at twice.

Minorities, News

Two fined for interrupting Hanukkah celebration in Tbilisi

by | December 6, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court has fined two persons who tore down posters announcing Hanukkah. Wednesday night, two people tore down the posters and damaged the tribune that had been prepared for the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. They were fined 100 lari (USD 60)

Minorities, News

Demonstration against minaret in Georgian village

by | November 29, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Orthodox clerics and members of a radical religious group Thursday demonstrated in the Georgian village Chela against the restoration of a minaret on the night of November 27. The day ended without incident, and the rally was dissolved peacefully.

Minorities, News

Minaret back up in Georgian village Chela

by | November 28, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The minaret that was taken down in a Georgian village was put back up at the mosque Wednesday night. According to the local newspaper Samkhretis Karibche (Sknews.ge), the local government in Adigeni issued a permission to restore the minaret in Chela

Minorities, News

Few Roma families take part in elections in Georgia

by | November 27, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Meliasanovs, a Roma family of nine, did not participate in the last presidential elections, because they are registered far from where they actually live. However, they don't believe that the elections would improve their hard social and financial

Minorities, News

Minorities play little role in Georgian politics

by | November 25, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--Representatives of two non-governmental organizations told DF Watch about problems which remain in involving minorities in the election processes and political parties not been actively interested in having contact with minorities. Alexandra

Minorities, News

Minaret conflict in Chela, Georgia, still unresolved

by | November 12, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--The conflict over a minaret that was dismantled in a small Georgian village is far from over. Locals are continuing their fight to have the minaret restored, and claim that the guarantee of freedom of religion in the Georgian Constitution supports

Minorities, News

Uncertainty about plans for new mosque in Batumi

by | October 24, 2013

TBILISI, DFWatch--In the center of Batumi stands the large Ortajame Mosque. It was built in the 1860s, and Muslims gather here for Friday prayers. The problem is, there isn't enough room for everybody inside, so many people are having to conduct their prayers outside.

Minorities, News

Respecting human rights in Georgia

by | October 24, 2013

I am writing this letter in response to the letter published in Kviris Palitra and Georgian Journal under the title “Respecting Georgian Traditions”. I am a Georgian citizen, an attorney, and the producer of the show "Georgian Legend," which introduced traditional Georgian singing and dance to millions of people around the world. As all who know me will attest, I love my adopted country. “Tradition,” as defined in the authoritative English Merriam-Webster dictionary, means “a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time.” By this definition Georgia has a tradition (“a way of behaving … for a long time”), during both Soviet and modern times, of torturing prisoners. Georgia had a tradition of kidnapping women for marriage. Traditions are not sacrosanct per se, merely because they are traditions. They deserve respect only if their intrinsic merits deserve respect. Some traditions disappear, hopefully like those mentioned above, good riddance! Some traditions evolve over time. Some traditions persevere because they deserve respect. Using “respecting our country’s traditions” as ...

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