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President of Georgia, International partners condemn violent acts at anti-Tbilisi Pride rally

By Khatia Bzhalava
Tuesday, July 6
Yesterday, right-wing activists gathered on Rustaveli Avenue to protest the Tbilisi Pride march. The ultranationalism groups attacked media representatives and injured dozens of journalists and cameramen. Following yesterday’s events, 21 embassies to Georgia have released a joint statement condemning violent acts against civic activists, community members, and journalists during the pride. The statement is published by the embassies of Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, the European Union Monitoring Mission, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, UN system in Georgia, the United States and the EU Delegation to Georgia.

The international partners expressed concern about “the failure of the government leaders and religious officials to condemn violence.” According to the statement, participation in peaceful gatherings is a right guaranteed by Georgia’s Constitution. “Those who incite or threaten violence or commit violent acts… should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” the statement reads.

Embassies call on Georgian leaders and law enforcement to protect those exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and assembly, to protect journalists, and to publicly condemn violence.

The United Nations Human Rights Office has also reacted to the events and condemned threats and assaults on journalists and organizers.

“We call on Georgia to protect participants in peaceful assemblies and to investigate violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. Those responsible must be held accountable,” reads the statement published by UN Human Rights Office on Twitter.

According to the British Embassy to Georgia, “violence, threats towards the LGBTQI+ community and attacks on journalists damage reputation as a tolerant, hospitable country.”

Human Rights House Foundation stressed the failure of Georgian authorities “to prevent mass violence perpetrated against journalists and other human rights defenders, as well as civil society organizations.”

President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili also made a statement following yesterday's events, in which she condemns violence based on the difference of opinions and gender identity. The President claims everyone has a right to freedom of expression. Zurabishvili called on everyone to show restraint and the relevant authorities to ensure public order.

“What we saw today was a violation of the core fabric of Georgia. We have yet to understand that we achieve nothing with confrontation,” the president stated on Twitter.

Zurabishvili visited injured media representatives in the hospital and expressed her solidarity towards them. According to her, out of four journalists that had been transported to the hospital, one has already been discharged and one has undergone surgery.

According to the information available at the time of writing, 47 representatives of 16 media outlets were injured. Some of them received medical treatment on the spot, while others were taken to hospitals. Police are investigating the incident.