Society

Parliament in Georgia considers how to react to May 17 violence

by | Jun 18, 2013
police line and crowd ii 2013-05-17

Almost thirty people were injured on May 17, 2013, as Orthodox Christian activists broke up a small gay rights demonstration. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–The human rights committee in parliament is preparing a resolution about the May 17 events, when thousands of Orthodox Christians disrupted a protest by a few tens of LGBT activists.

The resolution was a response to an appeal addressed to the speaker of parliament and signed by more than 12 000 people who demand an adequate reaction to the violence.

On Monday, the committee reviewed the draft with little debate.

“We have prepared a draft which indicates all the major aspects of what happened there and what events took place that day,” said committee chair Eka Beselia on Monday. “The major part of the conclusion is dedicated to the fact that freedom of expression should be protected.”

The draft resolution might still be modified. Beselia noted that they may write that May 16 was a mourning day for the soldiers who died in Afghanistan a few days earlier.

The same day Monday Beselia also noted that the committee’s conclusions ‘don’t go beyond the evaluations by the patriarch of Georgia’.

Her statement has caused concern among the people who wrote the appeal. They now call for the legislative body to follow the recommendations by the public defender and human rights groups.

The reason for their concern is that ‘such statements put Georgia’s top cleric above the constitution and universal human rights, which puts the country in danger of [becoming a] theocracy’.

The signatories of the new appeal also protest that at yesterday’s committee session, the victims of May 17 or NGO representatives were not invited. This excluded groups who monitored events on that day. On the other hand, Rati Maisuradze and Giorgi Gabedava from the National Front were invited to the session, an organization which has been holding rallies against ‘gay propaganda’.

The two claimed Monday that among the 12 000 signatures they have discovered their own names, which they say shows that the list is a fraud. Beselia controversially said a group would check if the signatures have been falsified or not.

Members of the initiative group, which issued another appeal today, say Gabedava or Maisuradze are not on the list and that this is easy to check. They said questioning the authenticity of the list only drags out the process of adequately reacting to the May 17 violence.

So far only a few people have been charged with violations conducted on May 17, including two clerics, but no one has been punished yet. The government claims the investigation isn’t finished.



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