TBILISI, DFWatch–Mostly young demonstrators marched through Tbilisi on Saturday, against what they see as a too tough drug policy.
Their slogan, ‘Beka is not a criminal’, is in support of a man who may be sentenced to up to 14 years in jail for possession of marijuana.
Demonstrators gathered outside Tbilisi State University bringing cauldrons, cans, drums, whistles and other objects for making noise, and walked down Chavchavadze Street to Rustaveli Avenue, shouting slogans and making noise, stopping in front of the old parliament building.
For about ten minutes, they made loud noise using the things they had brought with them, and music was played from loudspeakers.
Demonstrators say Beka Tsikarishvili is just one of the cases and that there are many in the same situation as him in Georgia. This shows that the government has a wrong drug policy, they say, and it is not right to jail someone for seven to 14 years just for using marijuana.
They also think it is not right that the law treats dealers and users of marijuana the same way.
“Beka is not the only one. This concerns all of us. Such cases take place very often and will happen in the future if something is not done,” says Levan, one of the youth participating in the demonstration.
His friend Giorgi adds that people should stop caring about themselves and start thinking of others, that they should come out with the youth and demand to protect their rights and help Beka and all the other Bekas in Georgia.
Beka Tsikarishvili was also at the rally and addressed the crowd outside the government office.
“A brutal drug policy causes hatred among innocent people,” he said. “Here and now we categorically demand to end the brutal drug policy.”
He also said that slavery is hidden under a cover of freedom.
Some of the messages seen on posters at Saturday’s rally were: “You will have to foresee us”, “We demand liberalization of the drug policy”, “The law is illegally harassing us”, and “We want the liberty which belongs to us”.
Another rally is planned on June 2, in front of the government office at 18:00, and the demand is to decriminalize marijuana.