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The Religious Extremism Continues

July 25, 2005

The Religious Extremism Continues

At first look, it appears that the discrimination of people on the basis of religion has not occurred since the new government came to power. The facts, however, about the hidden problems from the side of the government, speak differently.  The facts showing an increase in discrimination of the religious minorities has grown with the number of complaints increasing from three last year to 12 in the first three months of 2005 in the Public Defenders Office. In spite of the many efforts by Public Defender and his representatives, the majority of the complaints was left without response by the police and Office of Public Prosecutor showing, all too well, the apathy and impartial action of some leaders of law enforcement bodies.

On 29 June 2005 in Kutaisi, an incident took place involving Goderdzi Kvaratskhelia, Khvicha Norakidze and Teimuraz Chogovadze who were threatened with the seizure of property and torching the house were working on despite the building having been legally purchased. The new owners, it must be said, were “Jehovah’s Witnesses” who called the patrol police for help but were left without any response. Instead the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” were apprehended and taken to the office of the Kutaisi Internal Affairs Police Department where their ID cards and driving licenses were confiscated and where they were also subjected to verbal offence. Further offenses were made to those left at home. This type of action towards the representatives of this religious minority has continued almost every day with the congregation having gathered in their yard with the encouragement of a local Orthodox priest.

The arrival of the representatives of the Public Defender’s office in order to obtain more information of the situation became one more reason for provocation with some members of the local community throwing bricks at the house. 

At this time the repair works have stopped and no one has been arrested.

Similar acts of discrimination on the basis of religious affiliation have also manifested themselves in the district of Akhmeta.

In 2003 Nanuli Javakhishvili, a resident of the village of Khodasheni, legally bought a building to set Baptist church in motion. Repair works are on going in this building but two Akhmetians, the former owners of the building, took away the key from Ms. Javakhishvili by force at the beginning of June and gave it to Mr Akaki Bibilashvili, the Gamgebeli (the local governmer) of Khodasheni, who will not return the key but intends to pass this building to the office of National Movement.  

Keti Kuratashvili