“I strongly condemn the acts of violence which occurred in Georgia during Tbilisi Pride Week, targeting in particular the office of the organisers of this LGBTI rights awareness week, which was occupied and ransacked, and the journalists present at the planned starting point of the march which was intended to close the week,” said Christophe Lacroix (Belgium, SOC), rapporteur on Alleged violations of the rights of LGBTI persons in the Southern Caucasus.
“Nothing can justify this indiscriminate and so far unchecked violence, which undermines Georgia's democratic institutions and the trust of its citizens in them. I am all the more affected by these events as I learn of them upon my return from Tbilisi, for a fact-finding visit in preparation for my report, during which I was able to hold constructive exchanges with the authorities and with representatives of civil society and the press,” he added.
“I would like to express my solidarity with those who organise the Tbilisi Pride, whose commitment and courage I salute, and with the Georgian media. Not only have journalists been attacked and injured, but press freedom as a whole has been seriously compromised. The perpetrators of this violence have demonstrated that they are opposed first and foremost to freedom, and to the free circulation of information.
The Georgian Government cannot and must not shirk its obligation to ensure the safety of its citizens and the ability to exercise their freedom of expression and assembly. Tbilisi Pride was unfortunately forced to cancel the July 5 march, and several media outlets refrained from attending because of the excessive danger to their staff.
I call on the authorities to prosecute the perpetrators of this violence. Georgian politicians should also clearly and explicitly condemn acts of violence and intimidation. It is clear that some of the official statements have been contradictory and counterproductive,” Mr Lacroix concluded.