Opposition urges public to stand by IDPs facing eviction
By Salome Modebadze
Monday, August 15
IDPs facing eviction from hotel “Abkhazia” are continuing their protest. Opposing the “illegal decision” of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia (MRA) IDPs demanded protection of their rights in front of the Parliament on August 13. IDPs had been registered at hotel “Abkhazia” [at Vazha-Pshavela # 25] since 1991 while the hotel has the status of compact settlement. They urged MPs to pay attention to the MRA “which is constantly violating the laws on IDPS rights adopted by the Parliament”.
IDPs started rallying immediately after they received a warning from MRA on August 5. The letter from the Ministry informed the IDPs that they had to vacate the building in ten days or police would force them to do so. MRA offered each family either to take USD 10 000 as compensation or move to alternative spaces at an unfinished building in Rustavi. Refusing to discuss the issue with the IDPs, the Ministry had allegedly been paying compensation only to whole families rather than households. “As a married woman with a separate family why should I be offered a flat in common with my parents I just wonder,” one of the IDPs stated.
Eka Beselia, leader of the Movement Solidarity to Illegal Prisoners, Lasha Chkhartishvili from Conservative Party and other opposition members criticized the Government for their “secret hunt” against the IDPs and encouraged the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to evaluate the situation in time instead of monitoring the consequences of eviction. “The Georgian Parliament doesn’t have the function of a watch-dog anymore because it has become the addition of the executive body,” Gia Tsagareishvili MP from Our Georgia – Free Democrats stated.
The Public Defender’s Office has carried out monitoring of “Abkhazia” hotel and the Institute of Resort Management – the two facilities with a status of “compact settlement” where IDPs are facing eviction. Both above-mentioned buildings have investors thus IDPs living there would be forced to move to alternative spaces or remain homeless. Giorgi Tugushi, Public Defender of Georgia, presented Koba Subeliani Minister of IDPs with a recommendation to take into account and protect the interests of the IDPs in terms of the offers and the adequacy of the compensatory sums; to take the relevant measures in order to reach an agreement with the IDPs both about the alternative accommodation and the compensatory sums; and to ensure that the IDPs are not evicted from the facilities of compact settlement until written agreements are concluded with them in full compliance with the Georgian legislation/the relevant accommodations are allocated which will not deteriorate the IDPs' living conditions.
170 families, hoping to rent suitable flats, agreed to take the compensation and have already left the hotel “Abkhazia”. Those, who agreed on a deal, stated that they had no other choice. “It was better to take USD 10 000 than to move to an unfinished building in Rustavi with no living conditions,” IDPs said opposing the move to Rustavi. But those, who decided to stay at their shelters, would continue fighting for justice. “These people don’t deserve eviction – they have nowhere to go,” the organizer of the rally Soso Vakhtangashvili said encouraging the society to unite around IDPs problems and protect their dignity and resist the police presence in front of “Abkhazia” hotel.