19:50, Tuesday, 31.03.2015
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Journalists in the Street – Threats to Freedom of Expression in Kakheti

Journalists in the Street – Threats to Freedom of Expression in Kakheti

The local government has intensified its pressure on representatives of the media, despite the number of cases of physical assaults on journalists that have taken place there already. The journalists experience ill treatment even inside the administration building, where the administration staff physically assaults them. Furthermore, the administration tries to have journalists arrested by making ridiculous and absurd accusations.

The acts implemented by the authorities in the Telavi region have forced all of the local media to take to the streets. “Journalists in Kakheti are Persecuted!”,  “ Journalists in Danger”, “No Freedom of expression in Kakheti”, “No return of the 37th”, were the slogans on placards on February 4 during a silent  protest in front of the Telavi administration.

Despite the rain and unbearable cold, about 20 journalists have been silently standing in front of the administration building giving a warning to the local government. The representatives of the media have been supported by NGOs, opposition parties as well as by the citizens of Telavi.

According to Lela Taliuri, the head of the Young Lawyers Association Telavi Office, “the local government is obliged to bear the objective criticism of journalists”.

The participants in the protest sent a formal letter to President Mikheil Saakashvili and Kakheti Governor Petre Tsiskarishvili. “Independent thought and freedom of expression are in danger in Kakheti! Both newspaper and media journalists experience physical and verbal harassment and assassination attempts (including attempts made to bomb their homes), and are constantly in danger. Mr. President and Governor, we are gathered here in order to inform you about the local journalists’ suffering and ask you to protect our rights. We are looking forward to your support and assistance.”

According to participants in the protest, “If the local government does not stop pressurizing the media, they, together with the people will launch permanent protests”.

The journalists standing in front of the Telavi administration did not break any traffic regulations. However, huge numbers of law enforcers were mobilized to the site in order to observe what was happening and protect the peace and quiet of the administration staff.

Veriko Kobishavili from Telavi   

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