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Appeal About Attack on Georgian Civil Society

December 28, 2009

To the President of Georgia
Diplomatic Corps Accredited in Georgia
Representatives of the International Organizations
Public Defender of Georgia

On December 15 2009, at 7:00 pm the office of the Inclusive Foundation, a well known Georgian LGBT organization, was raided by five armed people. They did not wear police uniforms. Besides the head of the foundation members of women’s club were in the office. Strangers warned them not to leave the office and stated they had come only for their “chief”. Several people led the head of the foundation into the next room. Then they called on the phone and by 8:00 pm number of strangers increased up to 12-13. According to the people who attended the raid, nobody was wearing police uniforms (only in the office some of them put on waistcoats of the policemen); they did not provide a search warrant, did not inform about their identity or agency they represented and did not explain the purpose of their intrusion.

According to the witness, the strangers reminded them that they needed witnesses for the search in the next room. The men confiscated cell phones of all those present in the office, led them into the next room and appointed several policemen for each person as a guard. Girls were locked in the room for several hours; strangers did not allow them to contact their families, and made degrading and humiliating remarks, such as ‘perverts’, ‘sick persons’, Satanists. They threatened to take photos of the women and disseminate them to reveal their sexual orientation. They tore off posters from the walls. They also threatened ‘to kill’ and ‘tear to pieces’ employees of the organization, Eka Agdgomelashvili and Tinatin Japaridze who categorically demanded them to show search warrants. The attackers replied cynically and said they would show the documents only to the concrete person. Paata Sabelashvili, the leader of the organization, was arrested as a result of the raid.

One of the attackers, who was particularly aggressive and homophobic introduced himself as a Giorgi Gegechkori, an operative officer of the Constitutional Security Department. However, on December 18, at the trial he was represented as an investigator Davit Khidesheli. Besides that, second person (later he turned out to be head of subdivision at the police department), who was particularly impolite, threatened Eka Agdgomleashvili with physical liquidation unless she stopped complaining (“shut up or I will kill you”; “make this woman silent or I will kill her”). In reply to the remark of the employee of the foundation “You are abusing your power” and “you will be punished for that”, he replied: “do whatever you want, you cannot sue me because I am the law and court myself”.

They searched bags of every girl who was in the office. Several bags were searched in the next room without presence of the owners. Only after this procedure they returned bags to the owners. Two women led the girls into the toilet (separately or two together), they made them take off and then searched. Simultaneously they called them “sick,” “perverts”. They did not draw up search protocols at all. After the procedure, one of the female policemen crossed herself and said “they made female body disgusting for me.”

The office and personnel of the Foundation have been oppressed since then. Strangers watch and follow the personnel. A car is always standing in front of the office and several people are standing at the entrance of the house of one of the employees who lives close to the office.

Despite the reason of raiding the foundation, it was logical continuation of the oppression against human rights organization in Georgia and aims to discredit them. We should pay attention to the TV-item spread by the Public Broadcasting about the NGO Human Rights Priority where the organization was blamed in extorting money from IDPs. TV-Company “Rustavi 2” spread information that GYLA sued Georgia at the Strasbourg Human Rights Court, etc. Before that, journalist for the newspaper “Batumelebi” was blackmailed but offenders are not punished yet. Consequently, there is danger that because of the profile of the organization “Inclusive”, the law enforcement bodies will manipulate with the topic of homosexuals and they will artificially increase aggression among radical groups of society.

It must be noted that, in similar situation, the government prefers to stay outside and protects orthodox interests at the expense of democratic principles. Beyond the borders of the country, the government pretends to be the victim of controversy between fundamentalists and civil society. Thus, there is real threat that leaders of NGOs will be purposefully marginalized through their criminalization and discrediting.

Bearing the above-mentioned in mind:

1. We protest degrading of personal dignity, rights and identity and we request punishment of those people who insulted and physically and psychologically assaulted the personnel of the “Inclusive” Foundation.

2. We request the government of Georgia to react on all similar facts of violence in accordance to the law, to find and punish participants of similar incidents.

3. We call upon the international organizations and diplomatic corps accredited in Georgia to monitor the imprisonment conditions of Paata Sabelashvili and appeal to the government of Georgia and law enforcement bodies to protect his rights. We also request them to monitor similar incidents and implementation of the responsibilities assumed by the government of Georgia to protect its citizens.

4. We request the information sources to act in accordance to the presumption of innocence and protect inviolability of the person; to avoid all kind of disinformation and unchecked information.

5. We request to stop persecution, chasing and psychological oppression of the personnel of the foundation;

6. We urge the Public Defender of Georgia to pay particular attention to the raid of the Inclusive Foundation and monitor defense of all rights of Paata Sabelashvili.

Inclusive Foundation
For additional information you can contact Eka Agdgomelashvili – 899 91 50 00