Gay rights rally canceled in Tbilisi following pressure from far-right groups

by | May 17, 2018

TBILISI, DFWatch--Organizers have called off a gay rights rally in Tbilisi out of security concerns. The rally should have been held in front of the government building in Tbilisi to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). "Considering all existing


Integration of ethnic Azeris starts with language

by | March 24, 2018

The Constitution of Georgia stipulates that the state language of country is Georgian. The status of the official language creates grounds for, on the one hand, the social isolation and exclusion from economic and political spheres of people who do not speak Georgian and, on the other hand, the banning on the use of a minority language in administrative domains.


Rally for transgender rights thwarted by egg-throwing ‘family values’ activists

by | March 9, 2018

TBILISI, DFWatch--Anti-gay activists thwarted a demonstration for transgender rights in Tbilisi Thursday. Police detained one person for throwing a raw egg at the group of LGBTQ protesters who had gathered outside the House of Justice to demand smoother procedures


Integration of ethnic Azeris starts with language: challenges in quality education and employment

by | February 27, 2018

In Soviet times, the great majority of the population of Georgia spoke Russian, which served as the language of inter-ethnic communication. 66 year old Bayram Abbasov, resident of Telaveri village of Bolnisi district, describes that since Russian was the common language, they had little or no knowledge of Georgian. “We did not feel disenfranchised if we did not know Georgian. Education at our school was provided only in Russian. Our teachers did not speak Georgian. As a result, we did not receive adequate Georgian language educational opportunities. After independence, Georgian became the only official language and Russian is no longer accepted for communication. The decline of Russian as the language of communication and poor command of the Georgian language has been a severe obstacle to quality education, employability and thereby our integration into the Georgian society.” A number of development challenges caused by the lack of knowledge of Georgian are pervasive in the today’s Georgian society. This is especially true for the Azeri communities living compactly in areas bordering their kin-states, with which they have closer ties than with the rest ...


Either school or hijab – “my daughters will not go to school without hijab!”

by | October 18, 2017

“I want to learn and become a teacher. If I do not study, I know in future I will have hard life. I was not allowed into the school because I am wearing a hijab. I do not know what will happen now.


South Ossetia declares Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘extremists’

by | October 16, 2017

TBILISI, DFWatch--The supreme court in the breakaway region South Ossetia has ruled that Jehovah’s Witnesses is an extremist organization and banned its activities. When the ruling comes into force in a few days, Jehovah's Witnesses members will face up to 10 years


Ethnic Armenians clash with police in south of Georgia

by | October 2, 2017

TBILISI, DFWatch--Ethnic Armenians clashed with police in a village in the south of Georgia on Saturday after locals attempted to place a religious stone in the yard of Kumurdo temple. The tense situation in the village Kumurdo calmed down on Sunday but the brief street


Rally in Tbilisi to demand ‘illegal’ immigrants kicked out

by | July 15, 2017

TBILISI, DFWatch--Nationalist groups in Georgia mobilized supporters Friday for an anti-immigration rally in the center of Tbilisi. Activists carrying flags and slogans for nationalist causes demanded ‘illegal’ immigrants kicked out of the country and called on authorities to bring


Constitutional Court overturns ban on gay men donating blood – again

by | July 13, 2017

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Constitutional Court has overturned a ban on donation of blood by men who have had sex with other men. The lawsuit to lift the ban was filed by LGBT rights activists Gocha Gabodze and Levan Berianidze. The ban on donating blood for 'a man who has had a sexual


Gay pride film screening canceled in Tbilisi after bomb threat

by | May 20, 2017

TBILISI, DFWatch--The screening of a gay pride film in a Tbilisi park had to be canceled Friday evening after someone called in a bomb threat. LGBT people, rights activists and others, mainly youth, had gathered in Mziuri Park for a screening of the British historical comedy


Four years after violence, Tbilisi’s LGBT activists meet under tight security

by | May 18, 2017

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four years after a mob of thousands of people violently attacked them, Georgia’s LGBT community needed strict security to observe The International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) on Wednesday. Several


Batumi City Hall turns down request to build second mosque

by | May 13, 2017

TBILISI, DFWatch--The city hall in Georgia's second largest city Batumi has rejected an application for permission to build a second mosque in the 150,000 strong city. In the largely Muslim city there has been a several decades long conflict about whether to allow a second mosque.


Too young to tie the knot

by | March 30, 2017

IORMUGHANLO, DFWatch--Although Georgia has brought in a more restrictive marriage law, the problems of child marriage and arranged engagements persist, especially in areas with a minority population. A study carried out by the United Nations Population


Four transgender women attacked at Tbilisi nightclub

by | February 8, 2017

TBILISI, DFWatch--Four transgender women are being treated for cuts after an attack at a nightclub in downtown Tbilisi, the capital of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The incident occurred at 7am Monday on Elbakidze Street, near Rustaveli, one of the main metro stations in the city.


In pictures: Sunday prayer in Batumi mosque

by | January 16, 2017

BATUMI, DFWatch--One Sunday in December, Muslims are cramming into the Orta Jame mosque in Batumi. Despite a three decades long effort to get permission to build a second mosque, they still have only one mosque to go to despite the city’s sizable Muslim population.

Minorities, News

Culture house in Pankisi may close following ‘intentional’ fire

by | January 6, 2017

TBILISI, DFWatch--A culture house in the Pankisi Gorge in the northern part of Kakheti may close after a fire that staff say was deliberately started. The fire on Tuesday didn’t cause much damage, but a spokesperson for the organization which runs the center


Fire at Pankisi culture center was ‘intentionally set’

by | January 4, 2017

TBILISI, DFWatch--A fire that broke out at a culture house in the Pankisi Gorge was intentionally started, a spokesperson for the center told a local radio station. The building is located in Duisi, the largest village of Pankisi, a mountainous area of Georgia inhabited predominantly


Catholics and Protestants welcome Christmas several places in Georgia

by | December 26, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The arrival of Christmas was observed Saturday night at several churches in Georgia with Midnight Mass at the Catholic Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church in Tbilisi and in the Protestant Holy Trinity Church in Batumi. The ceremony in Batumi


Christians begin open air prayer on disputed ruins in Mokhe

by | December 23, 2016

ADIGENI, DFWatch--A dispute about the ruins of a mosque in the village Mokhe in the south of Georgia has deteriorated further after Christians began conducting prayer on the site. Muslims began holding Friday prayers on the ruins two months ago and did not stop


Compromise it took two years to plan failed to solve mosque dispute

by | December 5, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims in Mokhe in southern Georgia do not accept a compromise suggested by a government commission and continue to pray on the ruins of a mosque in the village. Local Muslims and Orthodox Christians have disagreed for two years


Another transgender woman attacked in Tbilisi

by | November 28, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A transgender woman was attacked in Tbilisi on November 25. The attack happened late at night on Tamar Mepe Avenue. The target of the attack, Nata, had her nose broken and suffered other facial injuries. She left the hospital on Saturday.


Transgender Zizi dies in hospital after brutal attack

by | November 24, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A transgender woman who was attacked and severely injured on October 14 died at the hospital Tuesday night. The lawyer for the Women’ Initiative Supportive Group informed journalists that Zizi (32) had passed away. The attacker cut her throat


Transgender Day of Remembrance observed in two cities in Georgia

by | November 21, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The International Transgender Day of Remembrance was observed in two cities in Georgia on Sunday. In Kutaisi and Tbilisi, small gatherings commemorated transgender people who have been murdered as a result of transphobia.


Murdered transgender women remembered in Tbilisi

by | November 11, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Friends and activists gathered Thursday to remember the transgender woman Sabi Beriani, who was brutally murdered in Tbilisi two years ago. November 10 has become a national day of remembrance for transgender victims of violence,


Commission suggests making mosque ruins cultural heritage site

by | November 1, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A commission tasked with settling a dispute between Christians and Muslims over the ruins of a mosque in the south of Georgia delivered its recommendations on Thursday, but it is uncertain if this will help solve the two year old conflict.


Muslims conduct prayer on ruins of mosque in Mokhe

by | October 14, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims in the village Mokhe in the south of Georgia on Thursday conducted a prayer on the ruins of a mosque which the local government in 2014 declared that it wanted to turn into a culture house. The plans by local Orthodox Christians to appropriate


After waiting nine years, Radio Marneuli prepares to finally go on air

by | September 26, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--In Marneuli, a predominantly ethnic Azerbaijani town in the south of Georgia, the community radio is the only media outlet which is critical of the local government and trying to be balanced, unbiased and objective. The people behind Radio Marneuli went through many difficulties until they finally


Muslims in Kobuleti win symbolic victory in discrimination lawsuit

by | September 22, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--In Batumi, the City Court on Monday ruled partly in favor of the Muslim community in a conflict about a planned religious boarding school called a madrasa. The court case, which has lasted two years, deals with a conflict among locals in the town Kobuleti,


Georgian police accused of hate speech in lawsuit at Strasbourg court

by | September 16, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The beating of four Muslims by Georgian police may be brought up before the European Court of Human Rights after a human rights group in Georgia on Thursday filed a lawsuit at the Strasbourg court. The four were detained by police during a village


Georgian Muslims celebrate Kurban Bayram

by | September 12, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Muslims in Georgia, as well as around the World, celebrate Eid al-Adha, known as Kurban Bayram, major religious celebration from 12 to 15 September.


Muslims in Batumi buy land plot for city’s second mosque

by | September 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims in Batumi took one step closer to building a second mosque in the city by purchasing a plot of land on Wednesday. The initiative group for constructing a mosque in Batumi on September 7 purchased a property on Abashidze Street


In pictures: Cross-border music festival One Caucasus

by | September 1, 2016

Tserakvi, DFWatch - Festival brings South Georgia’s multi-ethnic community together with visitors from Armenia and Azerbaijan for music, art, sport, and activism. The festival was held for the third time with more guests and artists performing.


Can Caucasus become one? Festival opens where three countries meet

by | August 26, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The One Caucasus Festival kicked off in Georgia on Thursday, bringing together tourists and young people from all over the country, from different ethnic backgrounds, in order to enjoy music performances by local and foreign artists. One Caucasus

Minorities, News

Jehovah’s Witnesses recorded 51 cases of discrimination in 2015

by | August 18, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--On November 23 last year, shots were fired at a building used by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Vazisubani, a district in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. When bullets slammed into the building again one week later, a lawyer representing the religious community wondered

Minorities, Youth

New cafe offers youth a place to meet in Pankisi

by | August 12, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A new café in Pankisi Gorge will offer young people a place to gather. Locals say they cannot remember ever having had a place for young people to get together. The café opened Wednesday in the village Duisi, the central village in Pankisi Gorge,


Growing tension between Christians and Muslims in Adigeni

by | August 1, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--There is growing tension between the Christian and Muslim communities in the small village Adigeni, west of Akhaltsikhe. The Samtskhe–Javakheti region, where Adigeni village is located, was historically known as Meskheti, after the Muslim Meskhs.


Nigerian student accuses Georgian bank of discrimination

by | July 29, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Nigerian national, Solomon Adebayo Okeleye accused Bank of Georgia of racial discrimination for limiting his and other Nigerian students’ right to use payment cards.


Catholics win discrimination lawsuit in Georgia

by | July 25, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Catholics in Rustavi, 20km south of the Georgian capital, have won a court’s backing that they were discriminated against after failing to get a construction permit to build a church there. The Catholic community in Rustavi applied for permission


In pictures: Pankisi valley celebrates Eid al-Fitr

by | July 8, 2016

Pankisi Valley, DFWatch - Eid al-Fitr, or the Feast of Breaking the Fast, is a major Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. This year, Eid al-Fitr was celebrated by Muslims worldwide on 6 July. In Pankisi valley, Georgia’s utmost


Sabi murder case may go to the Supreme Court as prosecutor appeals

by | July 7, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Prosecutor General’s Office on Wednesday appealed a ruling in the Appeals Court to acquit the defendant in the murder of transgender woman Sabi Beriani. If approved, the case could go to the Supreme Court.


Georgians support gay rights, but want gay rights rallies banned

by | June 6, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Over half of Georgians think the state should protect the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and other sexual minorities, but four out of five want it to be illegal to demonstrate for LGBTI rights, according to a new survey by Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG).


Two more cases of homophobic violence in Tbilisi

by | May 24, 2016

TBilisi, DFWatch - Two cases of likely homophobic violence were reported in Tbilisi on Saturday. Koba Bitsadze, the executive director of LGBT organisation Temida,


Civil society and countering violent extremism in Georgia

by | May 20, 2016

Georgia’s State Agency for Religious Issues is accusing NGOs of fomenting radicalisation and terrorism in the country. Others, however, consider civil society vital in any attempt to prevent it.


Kist Salafi community joins debate on religion and radicalisation in Pankisi valley

by | May 18, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - A Salafi imam from Pankisi valley met with Georgian public in order to explain the community’s views on religion, the role of the state, the role of media, sources of radicalism, and gender equality.


Stairs painted in rainbow colors in western Georgia, then cleaned by municipality

by | May 18, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Stairs of a theatre in Ozurgeti, administrative center of Guria, Western Georgia, was painted in rainbow colors on May 17, International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), Guria news reported.

Minorities, Society

17 May marked with rallies, guerrilla tactics, arrests, and prayers [updated]

by | May 17, 2016

The International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) marked internationally on 17 May once again sheds light on existing tensions between the LGBTQI community, the authorities, and the Church. Activists arrested for vandalism Levan Berianidze, the executive director of LGBT Georgia posted information around 5 a.m. saying that a group of activists were detained for making stencils by the police. ‘As I have been informed the police was violent and brutal — activists were physically attacked, dragged along on ground and the police vocabulary was extremely aggressive!’ Mr Berianidze wrote. Ten activists were detained. According to the information provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, seven of them were detained by undercover police for attempting to apply a stencil saying ‘All love is equal’ on the wall belonging to the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Three activists who were detained for painting a zebra crossing in rainbow colours were already released. The other seven are awaiting trial. Stencils, which were in rainbow colours, have been covered by the paint soon after the activists were detained. A small group of feminist and LGBTQI activists rallied in front of ...

Minorities, Society

Ombudsman call on public agencies ‘to do their best’ to prevent hate-motivated violence

by | May 17, 2016

The Public Defender of Georgia released a statement on International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), May 17, in which he deplores that “no effective measures have been taken for raising public awareness or establishing the culture of tolerance in the country.” “A timely, efficient and accountable investigation of hate crimes is still a problem. Three years have passed, however, nobody has been held responsible for the criminal acts committed on 17 May, 2013,” the statement reads. Ucha Nanuashvili, the Public Defender, states his pity to the fact that LGBTI rights activists have no opportunity to celebrate IDAHOT in the open air “due to lack of safeguards to be protected from possible threats of violence, they refrain from a public appearance. It is worrying that homophobic attitudes in the society threaten realization of a constitutional right.” “Given all the above, I call on the public agencies to do their best to prevent hate-motivated violence and manifestation of homophobic actions, as well as to promote unconditional implementation of constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms of LGBT persons. “Public Defender’s authorized representatives will be observing developments in ...


Georgia has become a more dangerous place for gays: Rights group

by | May 12, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The human rights of gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities are being less protected in Georgia, according to the organization ILGA, which monitors the situation internationally. International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex


Agency for Religious Issues: Civil society fosters Islamic terrorism

by | May 10, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - NGO and Muslim activists slam the State Agency for Religious Issues for accusing the civil society of fostering Islamic terrorism and radicalism by pointing out structural violence on behalf of the state and the Georgian Orthodox Church.


Ethnic and religious minorities affected by population decline: Census

by | May 4, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The 2014 census sheds light on issues related to ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities in Georgia. The size of all ethnic minorities fell drastically. While Georgia has lost 15% (658 thousand) of its population since the 2002 census, the number


Three cases of homophobic violence reported last month

by | May 3, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian media reported about three cases of homophobic violence which took place last month in Tbilisi. The Facebook user, Jemal Beridze wrote on 23 April that he was assaulted by three unknown attackers for wearing an earring.


In pictures: Kist Cultural Evening in Tbilisi

by | April 26, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Cultural activists from Pankisi valley stress the importance of strong Chechen–Georgian relations and the need of challenging the existing negative stereotypes.


Tbilisi City Hall refuses to guarantee security for members of Armenian Genocide rally

by | April 25, 2016

Members of Tbilisi’s Armenian community gathered in front of an Armenian church in Avlabari district following the authorities’ refusal to secure the annual rally in front of the Turkish Embassy demanding recognition of the Armenian Genocide.


In pictures: Tbilisi Armenians celebrate Palm Sunday

by | April 24, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Although the Armenian Apostolic Church follows a different liturgical calendar, many Georgian Armenians mark religious holidays on the same days as the Georgian Orthodox. Armenians in Armenia already celebrated Palm Sunday (Tsaghkazard in


In pictures: Georgian Jews prepare for Passover

by | April 23, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Passover, also known by its Hebrew name, Pesach, is a major religious holiday celebrated by Jews across the world. It commemorates the liberation of Jews by God from the slavery in Egypt and the

Minorities, News

Family feud linked to Pankisi arson case

by | April 19, 2016

The victim’s family demands an urgent and comprehensive investigation into a suspected arson case, which will otherwise be solved through the application of traditional law. A family house in Pankisi valley was burnt


Batumi Muslims continue demanding the right to build a new mosque

by | April 17, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - On 15 April, after the weekly Friday prayer, Acharan Muslims organised a peaceful rally demanding construction permit for a new mosque in Batumi, Batumelebi (‘Batumians’) reported. The protesters marched to the government buildi


MP’s call for formal recognition of Armenian Genocide reignites debate

by | April 14, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A call to formally recognise the Armenian Genocide further strains interethnic relations in the context of recent hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, upcoming annual genocide commemorations, and impending parliamentary elections.


Suspect arrested for fatal stabbing in Tbilisi suburb

by | April 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Georgia arrested a person Thursday accused of murdering 22 year old Pikrat Akhmedov on December 28 in Ponichala, a predominantly Azeri suburb of Tbilisi. The Ministry of Internal Affairs informed said police from Isani-Samgori

Minorities, News

One Armenian and one Azerbaijani MP concerned by Karabakh escalation

by | April 6, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two parliamentarians from the governing Georgian Dream coalition - one of Armenian, the other of Azerbaijani origin - express concern over the military situation in Nagorno-Karabakh after the recent escalation in hostilities. “We call

Minorities, News

Fighters recruited among Georgia’s minorities for Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

by | April 6, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The escalation of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has complicated relations between the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities in Georgia. A small group of Georgian citizens plan to go to fight in case the conflict continues.

Minorities, News

CEC approves referendum bid about same-sex marriage

by | March 29, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Central Election Commission (CEC) has approved a proposal to hold a referendum about whether to allow same sex marriage in Georgia. The proposal, which was submitted by a group of seven people, will not automatically

In brief, Minorities

Georgian PM takes part in Armenian Easter celebrations

by | March 28, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili visited the newly renovated Cathedral of Saint George in Tbilisi’s Old Town, in order to join Armenian Easter celebrations. Adherents of the Armenian Apostolic Church are almost exclusively ethnic


In pictures: Georgian Catholics mark Easter

by | March 27, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - This year, a number of Christian minorities in Georgia, including the Catholics, Armenians, and Protestants observe Easter, the most important Christian holiday, more than one month before Orthodox Christians. Before Easter, Catholics observe a forty-day long fasting period known as the Great Lent. The last week immediately before Easter is known as the Holy Week, which includes Holy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper, Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion, and Holy Saturday, when the faithful gather for an all-night vigil by the symbolic Lord’s tomb awaiting His resurrection. On Holy Saturday morning, some believers bring baskets with a sampling of Easter foods for a priest to bless. This custom is mostly associated with Georgia’s Polish community, among whom the custom is known as święconka. According to the most recent data, less than one percent of the population in Georgia are Catholics, about 10 percent are Muslims, and four percent Armenian Christians. More than 83 percent are adherents of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The majority of Georgia’s Catholics live in the southern district of Samtskhe–Javakheti, although there’s a small Catholic community in Tbilisi ...

Minorities, News

Public hearing process begins for constitutional ban on same-sex marriage

by | March 26, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A parliamentary commission has launched a public debate about a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The first meeting was held on Friday in Telavi, in the eastern Kakheti


Pankisi imams won’t endorse early marriages

by | March 25, 2016

The issue of early marriages highlights existing religious divisions in Pankisi valley and competing views on the community’s relation with the Georgian state. In a conversation with local Radio WAY (‘We’ in Chechen), member of Pankisi’s Council of Elders Khaso Khangoshvili declared that early marriages won’t be endorsed by Pankisi’s ‘traditional’ imams any more, Kakheti Information Centre (ICK) reported. ‘We decided that imams of the traditional mosque won’t solemnise early marriages any more. We took into account a couple of factors. Firstly, having a family is a burden too heavy for a girl younger than 18 who is still a school pupil. She should be able to finish her studies. Secondly, according to our tradition, the role of woman in the family is fairly important and it’s too big of a responsibility for a minor. And finally — our country’s legislation already forbids early marriages’, Mr Khangoshvili explained in a comment for InterPressNews. The majority of approximately 10 thousand Kists who inhabit Pankisi valley profess Islam. One part of the community, usually the older generation, identifies as ‘traditional’ Sufi Muslims, while the ...


In pictures: Nowruz celebrations in Marneuli

by | March 21, 2016

MARNEULI, DFWatch--Hundreds of people celebrated the coming of spring in the city of Marneuli, populated predominantly by ethnic Azerbaijanis. Nowruz (Novruz bayramı in Azerbaijani) is a major holiday of Persian and Zoroastrian origins, celebrated nowadays


LGBT rights activists protest against politicization of the definition of marriage

by | March 18, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian Dream MP slurs Identoba’s activists who stage a protest against proposed constitutional changes in the definition of marriage. A group of activists from NGO Identoba (‘Identity’) gathered today in front of the Parliament


In pictures: Yazidi cemetery in Tbilisi

by | March 16, 2016

The only Yazidi cemetery in Tbilisi is located on a hill overlooking the city in Upper Chughureti district. Until less than a year ago, the area around the cemetery used to be a site of illegal garbage disposal. It was finally rehabilitated in June 2015.


Armenian-language radio gains ground in Georgia

by | March 15, 2016

Director of Armenian-language radio Aliq Media, Arsen Kharatyan discusses challenges facing minority-language media in Georgia and the anti-Armenian sentiment in the country. DF Watch: Can you tell us about the history of the radio?


Life of Muslim Meskh repatriates at South Ossetian boundary line

by | March 11, 2016

Tsitelubani, DFWatch - The Iskanderov family members tell the story of life on the move, Meskh activism in Georgia, and challenges of life at the ABL. When DF Watch first knocked on Salim Iskanderov’s door, he was suspicious.


Man attacks Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kutaisi

by | March 11, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A man attacked a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kutaisi, western Georgia, on Thursday. The inebriated attacker beat him and tore book and, leaflets and smashed the JW stand. The incident took place on Thursday morning near

Minorities, News

Free Democrats support constitutional ban on gay marriage

by | March 10, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Free Democrats, an opposition party which until 2014 was a member of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, supports a Constitutional amendment that will define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Four members


Lecture on homophobia disrupted at Free University in Tbilisi

by | March 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A public lecture about homophobia was called off at the Free University in Tbilisi as result of a protest by a radical religious group that claimed the lecture was propaganda. Identoba, an organization working to defend the rights of sexual and

Minorities, News

GD coalition agrees on constitutional block against gay marriage

by | March 8, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Leaders of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) coalition on Monday agreed to support a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The constitutional amendment was discussed at a session


Batumi Muslims rally demanding permit to construct a mosque

by | March 5, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Batumi Muslims continue to rally for permission to build a new mosque in the city. The only existing mosque, called Ortajame, is not large enough and people have to pray on the street. Several hundred Muslims gathered outside


CoE criticises Georgia’s record on religious minorities and LGBT rights

by | March 3, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A new report published by the Council of Europe (CoE) highlights persisting issues of hate speech, racism, xenophobia, direct violence, and systemic discrimination in Georgia. On Tuesday, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance


Christians and Muslims in Adigeni agree to share cemetery

by | March 2, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims and Christians have reached agreement about a cemetery in a village Adigeni, in the south of Georgia, after a tense standoff. The communities agreed to have one common cemetery, which will be separated by a line. Jambul Abuladze,


MIA opens investigation into Christian-Muslim cemetery conflict

by | March 1, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has launched an investigation into the religious conflict in Adigeni in southern Georgia, where Muslims and Christians disagree about whether to have a separate graveyard for Muslims. The investigation


Christians and Muslims in Adigeni exchange insults in cemetery row

by | February 29, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Disagreement over a cemetery led to exchange of insults between Muslims and Christians in a village in southern Georgia on Monday. Samkhretis Karibche, a local online newspaper, reported that the locals verbally insulted each other.


Tbilisi’s Azerbaijani activists call for recognition of the ‘Khojaly Genocide’

by | February 29, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian Azerbaijani activists marked the anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy and called for its recognition as a genocide. On 25 February, a conference on the Khojaly (Xocalı) genocide was held in Tbilisi. The event was organised


Georgia’s Vainakh community commemorates victims of Stalin’s deportations

by | February 23, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Kist, Chechen, Ingush activists and Georgian sympathisers commemorated victims of 1944 deportations with screening of a Chechen film depicting details of the tragedy.

Minorities, News

Protesters succeed in preventing LGBT conference at TSU

by | February 22, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A conference about sexual minorities had to be moved to another location after Tbilisi State University (TSU) refused to let it be held on February 22 following protests by extreme traditionalists. The protest was staged by a group which has often


Neighbours Struggle to Deal with Religious Tension in Tbilisi’s Muslim Settlement

by | February 22, 2016

Soghanlughi, DFWatch - Global Shia–Sunni conflict found its way into a small Azerbaijani community on the outskirts of Tbilisi.What started as a local tension in the predominantly Muslim settlement of Soghanlughi (Soğanlıq in Azerbaijani), which is a part of Ponichala district in the southeast of Tbilisi, escalated into a conflict informed by events in the Middle East, proving increasingly divisive for the community.


Transgender-themed film screening commemorates activist’s death

by | February 19, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Film starring late transgender activist Bianka Shigurova is a powerful social commentary on transphobia in Georgia. Short film The Gospel of Anasyrma was screened yesterday in headquarters of


Georgia ranked 23rdin Europe for LGBT rights legislation

by | February 12, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--Rainbow Europe’s LGBTI rights ranking praises positive developments in Georgia despite major setbacks. Georgia was placed in the middle of a ranking of European countries which assessed each country’s legislation regarding


Two mosques given heritage protection in southern Georgia

by | February 12, 2016

ADIGENI, DFWatch--Two mosques in the south of Georgia were Monday granted cultural heritage status. We went to the Samtskhe-Javakheti region to see how religious minorities are living there. One of the mosques designated as cultural heritage lies in the middle of the village Adigeni.


Different versions of murder tell of divide in mixed Shia Sunni village

by | February 10, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A picture of a young man hangs in the yard of the Shia mosque in Ponichala, a suburb of Tbilisi known as Soghanlughi, or Soğanlıq in Azeri language. A note is attached to it, saying: ‘Your blood will annihilate Wahhabism and wash it off this land’.


LGBT organisations distance themselves from same-sex marriage initiative

by | February 10, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - LGBT rights organisations condemn Giorgi Tatishvili’s initiative for same-sex marriages as a provocation and accuse pro-Russian political and radical religious forces of interference. On 27 January, Giorgi Tatishvili, an activist


Kist man claims ethnically motivated assault by Akhmeta police

by | February 6, 2016

Tbilisi, DFWatch - 24-years-old Aslan Tsutsashvili from Pankisi valley accuses Akhmeta police of physical assault on ethnic grounds. The incident allegedly


Muslims in Batumi present 12,000 signatures in support of new mosque

by | February 5, 2016

BATUMI, DFWatch--Muslims gathered at the Orta Jame mosque in Batumi on Thursday and presented over 12,000 signatures in support of constructing a new mosque. Orta Jame is the only mosque in Batumi, Georgia’s second largest city, and it has been overcrowded

Minorities, News

Transgender woman found dead in Tbilisi

by | February 5, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A transgender woman was found dead in her apartment in Tbilisi on Thursday. She had apparently suffocated due to a gas leak. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) confirmed the death of Bianka Shigurova and said an investigation has been

Minorities, News

Georgia may amend Constitution to bar same-sex marriage

by | February 2, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A controversy is brewing in Georgia over whether it should be written into the Constitution that a marriage is union between a man and a woman. The idea has been around at least since former Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili suggested it in March


Council of Europe report highlights marginalization of minorities

by | January 28, 2016

TBILISI, DFWatch--A new report by the Council of Europe (CoE) criticizes Georgia for not having done enough to protect minorities and prevent inter-faith tension. The report deals with the protection of minority rights in Georgia and assesses the legislative steps taken


Petition for new mosque in Batumi collects 5,000 signatures in one day

by | December 27, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Supporters of a second mosque in Batumi began collecting signatures Friday. The city on Georgia’s Black Sea coast is largely Muslim but the only mosque has been overcrowded for decades. Signatures were collected at a corner of the Orta Jame


Shots fired at Jehovah’s Witnesses house in Tbilisi – again

by | December 3, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--For a second time in one week, gunshots have been fired at a congregation hall used by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tbilisi. Monday morning, someone fired shots at the Kingdom Hall building in Vazisubani, a suburb in the Georgian capital.


Jehovah’s Witnesses house in Tbilisi fired at

by | November 26, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A house used by Jehovah’s Witnesses was fired at in Tbilisi on Monday night. Witnesses say they heard sounds of shots at about 23:00. At least 15 bullets were fired at the building. No-one was injured. Representatives of the Kingdom Hall


Day of remembrance for transgender people observed in Tbilisi

by | November 11, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two dozen activists gathered in Tbilisi Tuesday evening to observe a new national day of remembrance for transgender people, exactly one year after the murder of a transgender woman. The memorial event was held


International ‘pro-family’ congress to coincide with Day Against Homophobia

by | November 4, 2015

A major ‘family values’ conference will be held in Tbilisi on the 17 May amidst fears that it might be yet another attempt at silencing LGBT rights activism Georgia was chosen as the site for the tenth World Congress of Families, Christian News Wire reported.


All defendants acquitted in 2013 anti-gay rights attack case

by | October 23, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court on Friday acquitted four people for organizing a violent anti-gay rights rally in 2013. The four, who also included clergy in the Georgian Orthodox Church, were on trial for urging protesters who disrupted a peaceful rally to mark the


New Armenian church opens in Javakheti

by | October 16, 2015

Javakheti’s Armenian community celebrated the opening of a new church in the village of Didi Aragiali. A ceremony of opening a new church in the village of Didi Aragiali of Ninotsminda municipality inhabited by ethnic Armenian majority was held on 13 October, news portal jnews.ge reports.


Georgia’s religious minorities file lawsuit with Constitutional Court

by | October 15, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Eight religious organizations in Georgia have filed a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court, demanding to get rid of legislation that provide beneficial tax terms for the Orthodox Church. Georgia’s Tax Code, as well as an agreement between


DF Talk: Being transgender in Georgia

by | October 1, 2015

Natia Gvianishvili, director of NGO Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group and Nika Ghviniashvili, manager of NGO LGBT Georgia Resource Centre talk about transgenderness and the issues faced by transgender people in Georgia. What is transgenderness? Natia Gvianishvili:


Two Nigerians beaten in Tbilisi, two suspects detained

by | September 29, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Police in Georgia Sunday detained two Georgian for beating two Nigerians in Tbilisi. The attacked happened on September 19 when one Georgian citizen and his two Nigerian friends were walking on Rustaveli Avenue in the capital.


Georgian MP wants ‘sexual orientation’ deleted from anti-discrimination law

by | September 22, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A conservative MP from the ruling Georgian Dream coalition wants to make changes to the anti-discrimination law passed by parliament last year which he himself voted for at every hearing. Soso Jachvliani, an armwrestler, actor and film director,


Radio Liberty criticized for publishing homophobic letter

by | September 19, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Groups rallied outside the office of Radio Liberty in Tbilisi Friday evening against a homophobic and xenophobic letter written by a sexologist and published on the radio station’s website. The controversial letter was written by Archil Bakradze,


NGO slams Khulo officials’ Armenophobic document

by | September 9, 2015

Local fraction of Georgian Dream alleges Mr Saakashvili’s “Armenian origin” in a fresh display of anti-Armenian sentiment. NGO platform No to Phobia issued a statement condemning the use of Armenophobic


Participatory budgeting gathers momentum in Marneuli

by | September 1, 2015

Tserakvi, DFWatch - A pilot project on participatory budgeting brings the population of Marneuli district closer to the decision-making process and brings democratic participation to a new level. One Caucasus Festival ended on Saturday, but the organizers took steps to secure its pro-democratic overtone in the long run.


One Caucasus Festival kicks off near Marneuli

by | August 28, 2015

Tserakvi, DFWatch - Festival brings south Georgia’s multi-ethnic community together with visitors from Armenia and Azerbaijan for music, art, sport, and activism. One Caucasus Festival kicked off yesterday in Tserakvi in Marneuli district, turning the tiny village into a lively melting pot of local and international guests. The festival will last for three days. While it certainly attracts many visitors for its musical programme, including artists from the South Caucasus, Poland, and Senegal, there is a strong family-friendly dimension to the festival, such as sport, dance, and art activities for children and teenagers, which proves very popular among the local community. The festival also includes participatory budget workshops aimed at increasing local participation and activism in the district. DF Watch talked to the festival’s cofounder and coordinator in Georgia Lado Mextiyev who explained the festival’s history and its raison d’être. ‘The idea for the festival was born in 2012 while working on our previous project “Art Zone” in Kakheti, which was aimed at spreading the Polish culture abroad. Within the project’s framework, we conducted meetings with representatives of intelligentsia from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. ...


Youth of multiple ethnic backgrounds join forces for One Caucasus Festival

by | August 27, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Ethnic Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian activists from Marneuli district take part in preparations for the One Caucasus Festival to be held on 27–29 August in the village of Tserakvi.


Combating transphobia through grassroots activism

by | August 17, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--While transphobia remains a societal and legal issue in Georgia, NGO activists try to raise awareness of the problem and exercise pressure on the authorities. As some in Georgia are still


Petition calls for tougher punishment in transgender murder case

by | August 15, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Groups in Georgia on Friday launched a petition demanding to punish the person who was recently acquitted of murdering a transgender woman in Tbilisi on the grounds that he was acting in self-defense. The organization Women’s


Court rules murderer of transgender woman acted in self-defense

by | August 8, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court on Friday unexpectedly acquitted a man of premeditated murder and sentenced him instead to four years in prison for beating another victim the same evening. Levan Kochlashvili was on trial for having physically


Georgia’s Yazidis honour the victims of the Sinjar Massacre

by | August 4, 2015

  Georgia’s Yazidi community marked the first anniversary of the Sinjar massacre and prayed for peace in the Yazidi temple in Tbilisi. Georgia’s Yazidi community gathered on 3 August in the Yazidi temple in the Varketili


Akhalkalaki media: Tbilisi should not fear Armenian separatism

by | July 24, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Georgia should not fear separatism in Samtskhe-Javakheti, writes jnews, an Akhalkalaki-based news website. In a meeting, organized by the Go Group Media back in June, journalists


LGBT rights activist assaulted allegedly for his appearance

by | July 18, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Interior Ministry launched criminal investigation into physical attack on employee of the NGO working in the field of protecting rights of sexual minorities in Georgia. Levan Berianidze, of NGO Identoba,


ECHR ruling is vital for all minority movements in Georgia

by | July 14, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - The European Court of Human Rights ruling in the case Identoba and others vs Georgia can be considered a landmark decision, as it stated that hate crimes, committed against individuals based on their sexual orientation is a violation of the European Convention on Human rights.


LGBT* community in Georgia has bigger concerns than same sex marriages

by | July 5, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Same sex marriage legislation in the U.S. is a landmark decision, but LGBT* people in Georgia have bigger problems than not being allowed to get married. On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriages country wide


Georgian parliamentarian criticizes U.S. Supreme Court same-sex ruling

by | June 28, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The deputy speaker of the Georgian parliament, Manana Kobakhidze, is criticized for recent remarks about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. “Even if we are left all alone on earth, if every one of our friends or partners abandons us, I will not


U.S. State Dep criticizes Georgia for failure to protect gays

by | June 27, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch -The U.S. State Department criticizes Georgia in a new report about human rights published on Friday. Among a whole a number of problems highlighted in the report, it pays particular attention to the violation of the rights of gays and other sexual minorities.


The Sayat Nova Project: Music Defying Borders in the Caucasus

by | June 23, 2015

A group of ethnomusicologists known as the Sayat Nova Project has been documenting the musical heritage of the South Caucasus, trying to de-emphasise national divisions, explore the shared heritage, and pay attention to the underrepresented forms of musical expression.


Yazidi temple, third in the world, opened in Tbilisi

by | June 19, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch – on Tuesday, Yazidis celebrated the opening of their first temple and a cultural center in Tbilisi. More than 2000 guests attended the opening ceremony of the temple in uptown Varketili district,  built on the donation by the state.


Batsbi: A Silent Death of a Minority Language

by | June 18, 2015

The Batsbi language, a minority language related to Chechen, has been driven to the brink of extinction. Traditionally spoken in Zemo Alvani, Akhmeta Region, Kakheti, it has already lost its role as a community language and without institutional support it continues to decline at a rapid pace.


Pankisi residents want moderate Islam lessons to counter radicalism

by | June 17, 2015

PANKISI, DFWatch--Pankisi residents suggest to counter radical Islam by providing moderate Islam lessons for the young generation. Recently, four people were detained for recruiting new ISIS members in Pankisi Gorge. Journalists on a media tour here organized


Javakheti people excited over year-long visa-free stay comeback

by | June 12, 2015

Samtskhe-Javakheti Armenians applaud the comeback of the year-long visa-free stay permit in Georgia, as those who hold Armenian or Russian passport no longer need a residency permit to stay in the country.  As DFWatch has reported


Zezvaoba – a traditional horse race between Kists and Georgians

by | June 2, 2015

ALVANI, DFWatch--The last Sunday of May is a day of celebration in the Tush villages Kvemo Alvani and Zemo Alvani in Kakheti. Zezvaoba is the festival to honour the warrior Zezva Gaprindauli, who lead the Tush alongside the Georgian army against Persians at the Bakhtrioni


NGOs criticize Georgia for not protecting minorities

by | May 29, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Georgia criticize the government for not doing enough to eliminate discrimination of religious minorities, and underline that over the last two years, the country has seen a number of conflicts on a religious


PDO calls for gender change in documents of trans-individuals

by | May 29, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - The Public Defender's Office (PDO) addressed the Ministry of Justice on May 18 proposing to allow trans-people to change their gender records in official documents. According to the PDO, there are provisions in the Georgian law that hint


Anti-homophobia day marked in secrecy in Tbilisi

by | May 17, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--When groups in Tbilisi wanted to mark the international day against homophobia May 17, they had to organize it in tightly-controlled secrecy and gather in silence. Time and location was secret, and everyone who showed up, including journalists


“This street is taken” – Tbilisi gay rights campaigners prepare for May 17

by | May 12, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--“This street is taken - there’s no place for homophobia and transphobia here!” This is the slogan of another online campaign to prepare for the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), May 17. Behind the campaign stands


Gay rights activists in Georgia are confined to the Internet

by | May 8, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Two years after a violent mob attacked them, gay rights activists in Georgia are confining their protest to the Internet as they observe the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). No-one has been prosecuted for the


Asureti – a German village in Georgia

by | May 2, 2015

ASURETI, DFWatch--In the 1940s, there were over 20,000 Germans living in Georgia. Today almost none are left. Stalin deported them in 1941-42, and barely anyone came back. Now, Germans are rediscovering this part of their past. Manfred Tikhonov (67) moved to Asureti


Locals in Terjola threaten to start protests against Jehovah’s Witnesses

by | April 27, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Jehovah’s Witnesses in Georgia claim that they are being discriminated against on religious grounds in Terjola, western Georgia. The conflict started about a year ago. Locals Orthodox Christians are against the construction of a new Kingdom Hall


Armenians rallied at Turkish embassy in Tbilisi

by | April 24, 2015

Tbilisi, DFWatch - Ethnic Armenians in Georgia on Friday gathered at the embassy of Turkey in Tbilisi demanding to recognize almost all-out extermination of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire in early 20th century as a Genocide.


A gay man from Tbilisi: ‘I haven’t told my mother yet’

by | April 15, 2015

A country in which the Church is a powerful presence, which strongly advocates for traditional values, probably would not be the first place of choice for LGBTQ people. But what if it is your homeland?


The Armenians in Tsalka

by | April 14, 2015

TSALKA, DFWatch--Tsalka is a cluster of villages in the south of Georgia. It is home to ethnic Armenians, Greeks, Azerbaijani and Georgians; most of whom are eco-migrants from the Adjara region. Levon Akopian, an employee of the local government


Homophobia in Georgia: tolerance is a myth

by | April 3, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgians like to talk about tolerance as a part of the national psyche. But the ability to accept and live alongside people who are different from yourself seems to end when it comes to gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities. According to NDI,


Tsalka – a Greek ghost town in Georgia

by | April 2, 2015

TSALKA, DFWatch--Tsalka in southern Georgia used to be home to more than twenty thousand Greeks, but today there are only 1,500 left. ”My parents, grandparents and great grandparents, they all were born in Georgia. This is our home. Sadly,


Georgia has done nothing to protect sexual minorities: Ombudsman

by | April 1, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia has taken no real steps toward protecting the rights of sexual minorities, according to a new report by the Ombudsman. The report, which was published on April 1, says there is an increase not only in homophobic attitudes but also crimes motivated


Batumi synagogue back to Jewish community after 86 years

by | March 27, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s State Agency on Religious Issues on Thursday decided to transfer ownership of the Batumi synagogue to the Jewish community. The Jewish community has been requesting ownership and usage rights to the oldest synagogue in the city,


Preventing child brides in Kvemo Kartli

by | March 25, 2015

Marneuli, DFWatch--“The man thinks that she is still a child, she doesn’t know anything, and that is a good thing for her,” says Samira Bayramova, a women's rights activist in Marneuli working to prevent young girls from becoming child brides. “Mothers-in-law


Adjara government finds solution to overcrowded mosque

by | March 25, 2015

BATUMI, DFWatch--The local government in Batumi, Georgia, is buying two buildings for local Muslims, to try to solve the decades-long problem with an overcrowded mosque. There is only one mosque in Batumi, and it is unable to accommodate all the


How community leaders view a child marriage in Pankisi, Georgia

by | March 17, 2015

PANKISI, DFWatch--About a month ago, a 13 year old girl was married to a 23 year old man in Pankisi Gorge with approval from the girl’s parents. This has caused concern in the Council of Women and the Council of Elders, two mediation bodies which play an important


Sexuality conference goes ahead without incident

by | March 11, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--A conference about sexuality went ahead without interruption in Tbilisi on Wednesday, despite an announced protest by conservatives. The conference was organized by Identoba, a group which works against discrimination on the basis of sexual


Meskhetians are denied residency permit in Georgia

by | March 11, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Meskhetians who are being repatriated to Georgia are facing obstacles when trying to obtain a residency permit. Now human rights groups are defending their cases in the courts. Iunis Arifov has been living in Akhaltsikhe for the last eight years.


No signs that Mokhe commission has done anything yet

by | March 9, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The conflict between Christians and Muslims continues in a village in southern Georgia. A commission created in December to solve the dispute appears to have done nothing so far. Muslims in Mokhe demonstrated in February against the appointment


Activists rally in Tbilisi to demand women’s quotas in politics

by | March 9, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Women comprise 53 percent of the Georgian population but are heavily underrepresented in politics, say activists from Georgian Women’s Movement (GWM), a non-governmental organization working to promote women’s rights. On March 8,


Women’s representation in Georgia unchanged for over a decade

by | March 8, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The percentage of women in local government has remained unchanged for the last fourteen years, according to campaigners. There are currently 11 percent women in city and municipal assemblies. In the previous period, there were 10 percent


Georgia doubles funding for religious minorities

by | February 24, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--The government in Georgia plans to spend 3.5 million laris on traditional religious groups and dedicate a new square to the idea of tolerance. As reported by DF Watch, there have been growing friction in Georgian society in recent


Islam expert doesn’t see any rise in islamophobia in Georgia

by | February 23, 2015

It is harder to be a Muslim anywhere, when international media headlines are dominated by terrorist groups, such as ISIS or Boko Haram. In Georgia, one out of ten citizens is a Muslim. What do we know about Islam in Georgia? Is Islamophobia on the rise here as well?


Quota system in Georgian universities helps ethnic minorities, but is easy to abuse

by | January 30, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch- The possibility to study Georgian intensively for one year and then to continue studies in any Georgian university seems like a great opportunity for students coming from ethnic minority background. How helpful is the integration program


Muslims in northeast Georgia demonstrate against Charlie Hebdo

by | January 20, 2015

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims in a valley northeast in Georgia demonstrated Monday against the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo for publishing a caricature depicting Prophet Mohammad on January 14. People in the village Duisi, in Pankisi Gorge, believe the cartoon


Weak ruble and new immigration law impacting Armenians in Georgia’s south

by | January 8, 2015

It is a hard winter for ethnic Armenians living in Georgia’s southern Samtskhe-Javakheti region. The fall of the ruble has led to less money being sent home from relatives who have found jobs in Russia, and Georgia’s new immigration law is forcing people


Armenians in Akhalkalaki struggle to learn Georgian

by | December 26, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Armenians from Samtskhe-Javakheti have a dilemma: They feel isolated from Georgian society because they don't speak the state language, but at the same time they don't have enough motivation to learn it. Shushana Shirinian, a journalist from


Government members attend Catholic Midnight Mass in Tbilisi

by | December 25, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Several government members attended Midnight Mass at the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church in Tbilisi last night. The ceremony started at 23:30 and Giuseppe Pasotto, Apostolic Administrator of the Caucasus, conducted the prayer.


Georgia doubles state funding of four religious communities

by | December 24, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian government is doubling the funding of four religious denominations operating in the country, apart of the Georgian Patriarchate, the head of the State Agency for Religious Issues said on Wednesday. The four denominations


Ombudsman to study progress of Mokhe commission

by | December 16, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia's Public Defender is considering checking the progress of a new commission tasked with studying a conflict around a mosque in Mokhe, a village in southern Georgia. Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili says he thinks people's trust


Controversial bilingual education program to be changed

by | December 14, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The current bilingual education program does not serve its purpose, according to Armenians in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia. A specialist from the Ministry of Education and Science agrees with the critique and says that the current program


Georgian talk show host makes fun of Jehovah’s Witnesses

by | November 27, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A well-known TV host in the republic of Georgia was Wednesday evening criticized for making discriminating statements about Jehovah’s Witnesses while on air. One of the guests on Nanuka’s Show, which is aired on Rustavi 2, a TV channel in the former


Pankisi’s Council of Elders and what they do

by | November 25, 2014

DUISI, DFWatch--Despite its reputation, Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge is now a quite peaceful place, according to the Council of Elders, an informal body which arbitrates conflicts in the area. The council has a long history here. Its role is to mediate and decide

Minorities, News

Georgian opera singer postpones gay rights charity concert

by | November 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Fans of Tamar Iveri will have to wait another two months to see her singing in a charity concert in Tbilisi. A few Georgian media outlets announced that she just gave birth to twins, thus the planned concert was moved to December 10. Also the head

Minorities, Youth

Pankisi youth choose radical Islam over grim reality

by | November 21, 2014

DUISI, DFWatch--The people in Pankisi Gorge have been under increasing scrutiny for the last few months, as fighters from this region have become high-ranking commanders in the forces of the Islamic State. Pankisi is merely a 34 square kilometers cut into the Greater


Killed transgender woman remembered with a minute’s silence in Tbilisi

by | November 21, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--LGBT activists on Thursday marked Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) in Tbilisi. The demonstration took place at the House of Justice to protest against the fact that transgender people aren’t allowed to register their true gender in ID cards.

Minorities, Youth

Students demand decision about Kobuleti madrasa

by | November 12, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Students at a Muslim school demonstrated outside the government house in Batumi a few days ago, demanding that the the Kobuleti Boarding School issue be solved soon. Also university students joined the rally. They claim that the local government


Pankisi women challenge traditional law

by | November 11, 2014

DUISI. DFWatch--Centuries-old mountain traditions and customs still regulate daily life in Pankisi, a valley in the northeast of Georgia populated by Kists and Chechens. Now the old ways are challenged by a new women’s council. Traditionally, the highest decision


Ethnic clash in Akhmeta, eastern Georgia

by | November 11, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A street fight with ethnic overtones in eastern Georgia on Sunday led to people being hospitalized and several people were detained. The scuffle took place in the town Akhmeta, between local Georgians and Kist, who are a subgroup of Chechens


Georgian bishop says the Mokhe building was never a mosque

by | October 25, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--An archbishop in Georgia claims the disputed building in Mokhe was formerly a church, and that allowing it to be used by Muslims is unacceptable. The conflict in the village Mokhe near Adigeni started last week when workers came to start dismantling


School children stay home in Mokhe as politicians explain conflict

by | October 23, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Politicians Thursday began making sense of the conflict in Mokhe the day before, while local Muslims spent the whole night at the police station where people are being held who were detained. The scuffle began as Muslims tried to stop the


Mosque conflict continues in southern Georgian town

by | October 23, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Conflict continued Wednesday in the small Georgian village Mokhe, as an old mosque was dismantled from morning. Muslims tried to protest, but the Orthodox Christians opposed them and there came to a scuffle, during which 14 people were detained.


Muslims in south of Georgia plan petition to dismiss mufti

by | October 21, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims in south Georgia are planning to start a petition to dismiss the country’s mufti, who they claim is illegitimate and gave them false promises. A few days ago, there was a conflict in the village Mokhe, where an old mosque is going


Locals demonstrate for and against turning mosque into culture center

by | October 20, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Muslims in Mokhe, a village in the south of Georgia, protested on Saturday, because they don't want to give up an old mosque and turn it into a culture center. The Orthodox population rallied against them demanding to construct a new culture center

In brief, Minorities, Youth

Update: Two teens captured for vandalizing a church in Tbilisi

by | October 16, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The police on Thursday arrested two youngsters for suspicion of vandalizing a church just during a religious holiday. The detainees are two teens of 17 and 15 years old. The latter has a prior conviction. While searching the homes of the suspects,

Minorities, News

Human rights court faults Georgia for its treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses

by | October 12, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The European Court of Human Rights last week found that Georgia has violated the human rights of the Jehovah’s Witnesses community in the country. The violations the court looked at date 14 years back in time, but the group is still being attacked

Minorities, Society, Youth

Deadly ‘bridenapping’ in Kakheti

by | October 8, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--When a young man was murdered last weekend in Kazlar, an Azeri village 40km east of Tbilisi, it could have been one among many stories of violence and homicides in rural Georgia, but the circumstances of this case makes it stand out. 21 year


Kobuleti, where Muslims are not welcome

by | October 4, 2014

KOBULETI, DFWatch--In the past couple of years, Muslims in Georgia have experienced more and more animosity directed toward them. In 2012, Muslims were opposed when they tried to open a mosque in Nigvziani; in 2013 villagers in Samtatskharo were not allowed to perform

Minorities, News

Religious minorities in Georgia shortchanged due to prejudice

by | October 2, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--In the last few years, Georgia has had a surge in discrimination against religious minorities. A new report reveals that also a silent, invisible day-to-day form of discrimination is prevalent within government institutions and among public servants.

Minorities, News

Georgian man stabs sister for not wearing hijab

by | October 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A man from Pankisi Gorge stabbed his sister in the chest with a knife for refusing to wear a hijab. The brother, 35, inflicted 7 wounds on his 33 year old sister, a former police officer. Georgia's Pankisi Gorge is located in the northeast

Minorities, News

Discussion: Reasons for instances of religious intolerance

by | September 15, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A few days ago, in a town on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, local Orthodox Christians hung a pig’s head on the entrance to a Muslim madrasa school which was to be opened in few days, insulting the religious feelings of Muslims. What are the reasons

Minorities, News

Turkish religious official visiting Georgia

by | September 13, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Turkish public official who is visiting Georgia says he hopes there will be built new mosques in Batumi and Akhaltsikhe. Mehmet Görmez,President of the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey, arrived on Friday on his first visit to Georgia

Minorities, News

Georgian Orthodox Church issues statement on madrasa incident

by | September 12, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Patriarchate of Georgia claims that a boarding school for Muslim kids was built against the will of a majority of the local population in Kobuleti, a small town on Black Sea coast. For the last few days, locals have tried to oppose the opening of the

Minorities, News

Investigation into protest against Muslim school

by | September 11, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Interior Ministry has launched an investigation into an incident in a small town about a pig head being placed on the door of a Muslim religious school called a madrasa. The incident happened in Kobuleti as locals were protesting against

Minorities, News

Locals slaughtered pig outside planned madrasa in Georgia

by | September 10, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Locals in the small Georgian town Kobuleti on the Black Sea coast are protesting against the construction of a madrasa, a religious educational facility for Muslims. As a sign of protest people killed a pig and placed its head at the entrance

Minorities, News

Yazidi refugees in Georgia awaiting decision

by | September 10, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--More than 50 Yazidis have fled from Iraq to Georgia and applied for political asylum here. DF Watch September 3 organized a discussion about the situation. Dimitry Pirbar, head of the Religious Council of Yazidis in Georgia, said he had been to Iraq


50 Yazidis from Iraq ask for asylum in Georgia

by | September 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Kurdish Yazidis who fled from Iraq are seeking asylum in Georgia. Agit Mirzoev, the head of House of Yazidis in Georgia, told DF Watch that about 50 Yazidis have come to Georgia and asked the government for asylum. He said another group is expected

Minorities, News

Religious summer camp brings children together across confessions

by | August 28, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A ten-day summer camp was organized in mid-August for about one hundred Georgian Muslim and Christian children. The camp is aimed at making friends, train and educate, as well as breaking down prejudices about religion. Giorgi Jaiani, 15, came

Minorities, News

How Georgians view minorities: Protect minority groups but not gays

by | August 26, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--63 percent of Georgians think it is important to protect the rights of minorities, but they don’t want such protection extended to sexual minorities. National Democratic Institute (NDI) on Monday published the results of its newest survey of public


Mosque issue in Batumi remains unresolved

by | August 19, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Years have passed without a solution to the need for a new mosque in Batumi. The governments keep promising Muslims that they will make a decision, but according to Muslims, both the central and the local government are attempting to delay

Minorities, News

Yazidis in Tbilisi call on the world to stop ISIS

by | August 14, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--'Stop ISIS' was the slogan of a rally organized by the Yazidi community in Tbilisi as a show of solidarity with their besieged countrymen in Iraq, who suffer from ruthless savagery by the terrorists from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Minorities, News

Georgian government official gives details about UN committee’s work

by | August 4, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A government official in Georgia has provided details about the internal work of a United Nations committee tasked with overseeing the human rights situation in member countries. Levan Isakhanyan, Head of the Department of Legal Affairs, Relations

Minorities, Youth

Waiting for new school building in Lambalo

by | July 30, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--For seven years, children in the small predominantly Azeri village Lambalo in Georgia have had to attend school classes in old barns. In 2006, a group of experts announced that the old school in Lambalo had been sold and it was closed. The school

Minorities, News

Georgian government promises to solve Batumi mosque issue

by | July 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian government has promised once more to find a solution so Muslims in Batumi can have a place to pray. The only mosque in the city is too small to fit all the Muslims coming to pray. For decades, Muslims have been asking for permission

Minorities, News

Ombudsman asks for effective investigation of Armenian church attack

by | July 22, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian ombudsman addresses law enforcement bodies to properly and effectively investigate the attack on priests at an Armenian church on July 19. On Saturday, about 50 people attacked Surb Etchmiadzin Church in Tbilisi. The Armenian Diocese

Minorities, News

Priests attacked at Armenian church in Tbilisi

by | July 20, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--About 50 people physically attacked priests at an Armenian Church in Tbilisi on Saturday. The Armenian Orthodox Church says the attack was motivated by religious and ethnic prejudice, but Georgia's Ministry of Internal Affairs

Minorities, News

Georgian opera singer plans charity concert for gay rights

by | July 17, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian opera singer plans a charity concert dedicated to gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities. Tamar Iveri’s announcement in Tbilisi on Thursday comes after she was denied to perform by Opera Australia and La Monnaie of Brussels

Minorities, News

Naturalized Chechen still being denied to leave Georgia

by | July 15, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A Chechen refugee continues to claim that he is being harassed by government bodies and that he is not allowed to cross the Georgian border. Non-governmental organizations and the Ombudsman appeal to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to stop violating his

Minorities, News

British citizen tells of racial discrimination in Tbilisi

by | July 10, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--A British citizen says he has been subjected to racial discrimination in Tbilisi. Dancer Aaron Shikamaru Charles has lived in Georgia for two years. His wife, Nutsa Eristavi, is Georgian and the artist couple carry out joint projects here. Aaron says

Minorities, News

New report details obstacles for minorities in Georgia

by | July 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--There are many obstacles to integrating minorities in Georgia, according to a new report published on Thursday by the Ministry of Reconciliation and Civil Equality. Problems include access to information and education, not knowing the

Minorities, News

How well did Georgia’s local election include minorities?

by | July 1, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--On June 23, DF Watch invited members of three non-governmental organizations working with minority issues to discuss how well ethnic minorities were able to participate in the June 15 local election. Our point of departure was the fact that

Minorities, News

Jehova’s Witnesses still under pressure in Georgia

by | June 29, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Jehovah’s Witnesses in Georgia continue to be under pressure as another community denies the establishment of a prayer house. This time, it is locals in Terjola, a town in Imereti, western Georgia, who refuse to allow another community

Minorities, Youth

Language exams prepare Azeri-Georgian youth for university

by | June 23, 2014

TBILISI, DFWatch--Tural is a 19 years old high school graduate who plans to go on to university and study IT. The problem is, the teaching language at university is Georgian, which he doesn’t know well enough. Like many of his peers, Tiral chose to study

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