The Protestors were restricted from holding an Action in Adjara by the Police - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

The Protestors were restricted from holding an Action in Adjara by the Police

07 July, 2016

On the 22nd of July, the protest action in front of the Government of Autonomous Republic of Adjara was interrupted by the police indicating towards the violation of the citizens’ right to freedom of expression.  The police and the other representatives of the institution in civilian clothes (later revealing their ties to the Ministry of Internal Affairs), interdicted the citizens from pitching tents, as well as confiscated the mattresses protestors were using for sitting on the lawn. The representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs took one, out of many citizens who were included in the actions in front of the Assembly of Adjara first and moved to the Governmental building later protesting against the proprietorship in Gonio, to the police station. Afterwards, the police took two more protestors into custody for pitching the tents at the action place. Similarly, the police demolished the tents of the activists near the Assembly of Adjara building, too.

The activists were protesting the illegal deprivation up to 300 hundred families of their lands in Gonio, during the governance of previous authorities in 2010. During these years, every trial of citizens of restoration of their properties ended up unsuccessfully. The Property Restoration Commission of the Batumi City Hall started the administrative proceedings on November 17, 2014 with the aim of studying the subject. Despite the fact that according to the law, the term of proceedings is defined by three months, the Assembly have not made their decision yet. As promised by the Assembly before, the resolution was about to be reached on June 21. 

After the interruption of the protest action, the Chairman of the Adjara Autonomous Republic – Archil Khabadze stated to the journalists that the government had certain proposals to the citizens concerning the lands in Gonio but the protestors refused to accept the terms. We do emphasize that despite having a lot of time and resources to do so, there was no proposal made by the government of Adjara Autonomous Republic to the citizens of Gonio during this process.  

Restricting the activists from their right of freedom of expression by the police has obvious signs of violation of law:

Some representatives of the law-enforcement bodies were not wearing the uniforms, they did not introduce themselves to the citizens and it was difficult to identify their status at the protest venue.

Representatives of the law-enforcement bodies have no right to perform against the protestors while they are trying to pitch the tents and create relevant atmosphere for the organized protest. The participants of the action did not obstruct the rooadway or the entrance of the building. Neither did they preclude the employees of the administration from their work or violate public order.

We urge the Ministry of Internal Affairs to start the departmental investigation immediately, examine possible violation of law by the police and act accordingly. The judge of Batumi City Court confirmed that a protestor arrested by the police was not involved in any of the administrative violation of law and dismissed him from the court room. The trial for the other two protestors, also being arrested by the police, was held today, however, additional hearing was appointed aiming to interrogate the witnesses. We also call for the relevant institutions to ensure that the right of citizens to gather and manifest is properly protected. Also, the Property Restoration Commission of the Batumi Assembly is obliged to come up with the relevant resolution to the issue, discussion of which has been circuited for four years, in the shortest terms possible. We think that the lack of political willingness will aggravate current situation and create a risk of transferring the protests from the administrative institutions to the streets.