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In the Expectation of Internal Re-Displacement

August 10, 2007

devnilebib.jpgIDPs residing in Telavi based hotel of Kakheti” were given five days to leave the building. The police warned them about it yesterday. The hotel, where nearly 60 families have lived since 1992, was purchased by Centre-Point Company. Local government offered 10 000 lari as compensation to each family from district budget. The IDPs said that they will not be able to buy any accommodation in Telavi with the money.

IDPs have applied to the Telavi Municipality and Kakheti Regional Administrative Board to find out the situation but in vain. Officials from local government did not meet them.

“As far as we know, the hotel building was sold twice. Initially Andronikashvilis purchased it for a very cheap price. Then Vakhtang Rcheulishvili, representative of Centre-Point Company, purchased it. Now certain Nino Jijeishvili represents this company. Today we learned that she has applied to the Telavi District Police and claimed that we are damaging her property and occupy the hotel illegally. We have not occupied the building forcibly. In 1992 the government lodged us in. The investor or its new owner has not met us and demanded to leave the hotel.”

“Nearly a month ago, Gaga Tsigroshvili, Telavi district Governor visited the hotel together with his companions. He threatened us to send a unit of Special Forces to the hotel unless we left the building on time. Do you know what he told us when we resisted him? “What do want at last, I do not care about you at all?” and spitted at us. Despite being so much insulted, we applied to the Administration for help but they did not meet us. The Kakheti Regional Gubernator hid from us each time we visited his office. We are not going to leave the building because we do not have to go anywhere,” said Naira Ugrekhelidze, Besik Maisuradze, Murad Dadvani, etc.

“Our refusal on leaving the building is not categorical; however we cannot remain without alternative accommodation. Nobody has offered money to us officially. We have heard that they are speaking about 10 000 lari. So we started to look for flats and found out that a flat with two rooms costs 8-9 thousand USD in the suburbs of Telavi. We can buy house for 10 thousand lari in those villages of the district where there is no road and water and the territory is permanently under threat of landslide. In those villages people do not live as a rule. We cannot add anything to the money they have offered because we do not work. We receive allowances only for socially excluded people or for IDPs and it amounts to 11 lari a month. We have spent fifteen years in these terrible conditions but we have not bothered anyone. We do not want to become IDPs again,” said Demur Ghudumidze.

Enver Gagnidze resides in one room of the Hotel “Kakheti” with his wife and two children. The total space of the room is 11 sq. meters. One of his children is ill with cerebral palsy and lost eyesight short time ago. The second child goes to school. Three of his children died during Abkhazian War. Enver Gagnidze hardly escaped the death himself during the war. This year he lost allowance for his disablement and the family’s only monthly income is only 66 lari.

“This money is not enough to buy medicines for children. We are half hungry and nobody has ever assisted us. Even Abkhazians did not treat us like our government does it now. Nobody has forced us out from Sokhumi. We simply were patriots and joined Georgian people. So we became IDPs,” policemen entered the room and interrupted Enver.

“Take this warning and sign the document,” said the inspector. Enver refused to sign and we supported him As soon as policemen noticed camera, they left the place. IDPs explained law enforcers’ behavior as follows: “Policeman Mevlud Maisuradze warns us that their people have poor nerves and we should not resist them or it might result into a serious clash. Do they know how poor nerves we are having? We have endured so much disaster and we are like beasts,” said IDPs.

Gaga Tsigroshvili did not make comments on the situation. “I told you over the telephone that I am not going to make any comments about it and why have you come here? I will not say anything about the complaints of nervous people,” said Tsigroshvili and banged the door.

Neither Gia Natsvlishvili, President’s Representative to Kakheti Region, wanted to speak about IDPs. His press-secretary told us that the inhabitants must leave the hotel within five days by all means, because “it is necessary for the development of Telavi Infrastructure.”

Lawyers for the Human Rights Center (HRIDC) defend the interests of IDPs residing in the Hotel “Kakheti”. Lawyer Lia Khuroshvili said that every activity is illegal that is carried out at the expense of the rights of IDPs. “Georgian Law on Internally Displaced People, Article 5 section IV states that the issues regarding accommodation must be settled through court discussion. Besides that, until Georgian jurisdiction is restored on corresponding territories, IDPs shall not be evicted from compact residential areas unless they sign contract, or are granted with alternative accommodation in which their living conditions shall not be worsened. In this particular case there was no contract signed. According to current unofficial agreement with IDPs their living conditions will be worsened. Thus we are preparing a suit to the court and we will bring it at the end of this week,” said the lawyer.

The IDPs demand meeting with the government to find out the situation. Unless their demands are satisfied they will go on a hunger-strike in front of the Kakheti Regional Administrative Board.

Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti