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Pankisi Inhabitants against the Public Defender

January 18, 2006

Pankisi Inhabitants against the Public Defender

The Georgian and Chechen people living in Pankisi Gorge accuse Sozar Subar, the public Defender of Georgia, and the Human Rights Office, of indifference and lack of concern. Chechen refugees are especially active and threaten with protests and demonstrations in the near future.

The fact that the public defender no longer has a representative in the region raises the concern and discontent of the population towards the Ombudsman. The inhabitant of Duisi, a village in Akhmeta region, Jemal Khangoshvili, states that no one monitors the situation existing in the region with concern for human rights. “In the first place, the public defender defends and implements the government’s interests.  No one cares about people’s rights here. The representative of the ombudsman used to come several times a week and help the refugees to solve their problems. At least, he tried to protect our rights. Nowadays, one can see either the representatives of Russian and special division to violate our rights or the journalist,” says the inhabitants.

In the most critical situation are Chechen refugees. “We connected the Public Defender’s Office and asked for the attention and consideration of Magamed Makhaev’s arrest, the director of humanitarian organization “Imedi”, but received no response. They are not interested if we are alive or dead. If they continue doing the same we will be left with no other way except the demonstrations and protest acts,” state the refugees, who are ready to go to Tbilisi in order to keep them alert.

According to the refugees, the problems with refugee status remain unsolved, thus, receiving humanitarian aid is further complicated, which is not enough and in addition, is distributed with the violation.

“No one is interested with the problems the refugees are experiencing. Thus, it is a fair demand. As far as I am concerned, they plan to express their irritation with different kinds of measures,” says the representative of the local administration.

According to the information spread by the Public Defender’s office, the reason why the Ombudsman Office in Kakheti is closed is that the project has ended. “The Kakheti regional Office was financed through a project which has already been completed. We have no funds to afford for his stay in the region. As for the protest the inhabitants express, I can say that they are able to share their problems with us any time, and we, in our turn, will react to them,” says Teona Gogolashvili, the representative of the press service of the Public Defender’s Office. She also mentioned that Sozar Subar is not informed about the issues concerning the Pankisi inhabitants.

Gela Mtivlishvili from Kakheti