Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association writes that the police used disproportionate force as it dispersed a May Day rally in Tbilisi. (DFWatch photo.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA) claims that the police used disproportionate force against participants of a peaceful demonstration on May 1.

The demonstration, organized by the youth group Laboratoria 1918 to mark the International Worker’s Day, was supposed to be peaceful, but in the end it was dispersed by police.

Over 15 demonstrators were arrested by the police, and some were beaten, including minors and girls.

At this stage all detainees have been released.

GYLA claims the police used disproportionate force.

“Material released shows alleged interference with journalistic reporting, which may serve as grounds for holding law enforcements officers involved liable,” GYLA writes in a statement.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs explained at a briefing in the evening 1 May that during the demonstration, students violated the public order, refused to walk on sidewalks and that one private car and one police car were damaged.

The next day, on May 2, the Ministry of Internal Affairs released the footage from street surveillance cameras which shows how participants damaged private property by spray painting slogans on city walls and damaging police and private cars.

The students who protested do not refuse that they spray painted the walls, but claim that police abused their powers while dispersing the rally and detaining some of the participants. They also say that the number of protesters was too high and it wasn’t possible to walk on the sidewalks, and that’s why the roads were blocked.

Transparency International Georgia calls on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to investigate these issues: Did the demonstration cause a serious interruption of car traffic in the streets? Did police interfere in the work of journalists? Did the police exceed its power, and how adequate were the sanctions against students?

“We would like to highlight that the right to assembly and manifestation is guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia and the European Convention of Human Rights. Everyone has the rights to a peaceful assembly indoors as well as outdoors, without a prior permission,” GYLA writes.

The organizations calls for a probe and appropriate further actions.