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“I Am a Reporter not a Spy!” – Solidarity with “Arrested Press”


Tamta Beliashvili

On May 3, Human Rights House Tbilisi and other nongovernmental organizations held performance “I Am a Reporter not a Spy!” in Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi to celebrate the World Press Freedom Day.

The participants with bounded eyes and mouths sat on the benches in front of the Youth Palace, Tbilisi. Human rights defenders expressed solidarity to the “arrested press” and every journalist, who is persecuted in Georgia, with newspapers placed under the wire-trap. Simultaneously, the participants protested current difficult conditions of Georgian media and called upon the government to investigate all intimidation and oppression facts of journalists.

Besides Human Rights House Tbilisi member organizations - Article 42 of Constitution and Human Rights Center - Public Advocacy, Study Center for Elections and Political Technologies, Youth for Justice and Healthy World also participated in the performance. Journalists from various media organizations and active citizens, who learned about the planned event from social networks, also joined the performance.

Aleko Tskitishvili, editor-in-chief of the Human Rights Center’s online newspaper humanrights.ge said the nongovernmental organizations express their concern about last year facts. “Last year, photo-reporters were arrested under fabricated accusations. Media representatives were dispersed together with the participants of peaceful assembly on May 26 and several journalists were arrested for several hours. These and some other facts of intimidation and persecution of journalists were reflected in the Human Rights Center’s annual report as well as in the reports of other international organizations. This situation gives ground to our serious concern.”

With the May 3 performance, the organizers and participants wanted to underline the trend which is very evident in Georgia nowadays – journalists are persecuted and oppressed. Participants state that Georgian media is arrested in fact and they express solidarity with every journalist who is persecuted in the country. Simultaneously, they call upon the government to stop persecution of media and allow journalists to implement their professional activities in service of the truth.

“Today, we celebrate the World Press Freedom Day and simultaneously we appeal to civil society and other nongovernmental organizations to be more active and fight for the media freedom,” Nazi Janezashvili, executive director of the Article 42 of the Constitution said.

Other nongovernmental organizations also joined the demonstration besides the Human Rights House Tbilisi member organizations. Head of Public Advocacy Irina Putkaradze shares the opinion that Georgian press is restricted and intimidated today: “Lately, we have observed government’s increased influence on media. Media should impartially report ongoing events in the country. So, we call upon the government to stop persecution of media.”

One of the participants from the Article 42 of the Constitution Teona Kublashvili told the Human Rights Center that she also agrees with the allegation that media is not free in Georgia. “So, we demonstrate the forcible silence of media by our bounded mouths; the bounded eyes demonstrate the illusive blindness of media.”

Journalists from various media organizations and active citizens also joined the demonstration; they had learned about the planned action from social networks.

Human Rights House Tbilisi celebrated the Press Freedom Day last year too. The participants of the Flash Mob protested the oppression on Georgian printed media by holding newspapers upside down in front of the parliament.

On May 3, 1991 African journalists adopted Declaration in Namibian town of Windhoek where they called upon the authority to promote freedom of press in the country. On December 21, 1993 the UN General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day.

This day reminds the world community that freedom of expression is still blatantly breached in many states and very often journalists implement their professional activities at the expense of freedom and sometimes even at the expense of life.

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