Georgians Living in Gali Deprived of Fundamental Rights

Last week, Georgian Foreign Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, delivered a speech at the 22nd OSCE Ministerial Council held in Belgrade.

Delivering his speech in the plenary session of the Council, Kvirikashvili spoke about the challenges facing the OSCE area and the grave human rights and security situation in Georgia’s occupied regions. He emphasized the importance of international monitoring mechanisms in these territories.

Kvirikashvili focused on the Russian Federation’s disregard of the basic norms and principles of international law as proven by the violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He said that, by signing so-called “treaties” with the Sokhumi and Tskhinvali regimes, in breach of its international obligations, “the Russian Federation intends to fully integrate these regions into its military, social and financial institutions.”

“The population residing in the conflict zones are deprived of their civil, social and economic rights, including the right to freedom of movement, right to property, as well as recent violations of the right to study in one’s mother tongue in the Gali district of the Abkhazia region when, in eleven elementary schools, Georgian as a language of instruction was replaced with Russian,” the minister said.

Several civic organizations working for IDP issues, led by the Center for Reforms and Monitoring, assembled in front of the EU office of Tbilisi on December 3rd.

The peaceful demonstrators were protesting against the current situation in Gali region, calling it “an exact form of racism against Georgians on the ground.”

David Zakaraia, the leader of the organization, which has been operating in Georgia for several years, told Georgia Today that the fact is of crucial importance and the Georgian government should protect the rights of those living on the occupied territories. The protesters asked the EU countries, through the sending of an official letter, to help their voice be heard by the world.

“We kindly ask you for an adequate reaction to the racism politics and total injustice happening on the occupied territory of Abkhazia in order to save thousands of people from losing their lives and identity in their own country,” the letter reads.

Gali district is a part of Abkhazia, a region occupied by Russian troops. The district is smaller than the eponymous one in the de-jure subdivision of Georgia, as some of its former territory is now part of Tkvarcheli District, formed by de-facto Abkhaz authorities.

Despite the conflict of the 1990s and Russia’s occupation on the ground, an estimated number of Georgians still remain in the area facing and experiencing massive violation of their fundamental rights and insecurity.

The current de-facto leadership, led by Raul Khadjimba, claims Georgians living in Gali should be limited as the majority support the idea of a united Georgia. The central government of Georgia attempts to have influence in favor of the Georgians there; however, the social, political and military issues are fundamentally controlled by the Russian government.

Zviad Adzinbaia

10 December 2015 20:08