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GYLA protects the rights of journalists affected on July 5

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Wednesday, July 7
The Ministry of Internal Affairs has launched an investigation into the cases of office raids and obstruction of journalistic activities. A total of 11 people have been arrested so far, 8 of whom are charged with administrative offenses and 3 with criminal offenses. At the same time, yesterday the Ministry advised Tbilisi Pride organizers not to hold the March ‘in an open public area’ due to the ‘size’ of the ongoing counter-rally.

Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) has already been involved in the case of 11 journalists injured on July 5, 2021. At this time, an investigation has been launched into the incidents of violence against them and obstruction of journalistic activities. At this stage, 2 of them have been granted the status of victims. It is noteworthy that the investigative bodies are actively contacting the affected journalists to summon them for questioning, however, according to GYLA, this process is unorganized, the inquiry process does not start at the agreed time. At first, the victims were called to the police station on Tabukashvili Street, however, the place of interrogation was later changed.

“It is important that the investigative body investigates all episodes of violence and obstruction in a timely, effective and organized manner, including in identifying discriminatory motives. At the same time, the investigation should be interested in and give a legal assessment of how effectively the mobilization and actions of the police force were planned and executed to prevent the violent development of events.”

The Tbilisi Pride March was supposed to take place on July5, but it was canceled when violent counter-protesters gathered in the city center. On July 5 they carried out violent attacks on activists' offices and media outlets in various parts of Tbilisi. Of the 55 people injured, 52 are media representatives.

Before ransacking the premises, members of a violent homophobic mob rushed onto the balcony of Tbilisi Pride's office, tearing a rainbow flag apart and shattering the windows.

The Shame Movement members, who were hosting the Tbilisi Pride organizers, were forced to flee. According to allegations in the media, police were present in modest numbers and were unable to properly intervene.

According to MP Khatuna Samnidze, the violent hate street rally in Tbilisi on July] was organized by the authorities together with the Patriarchate, and that is why the Minister of Internal Affairs did not come to the Parliament when opposition summoned him to ask what he was going to do to defend Tbilisi Pride. Samnidze claims that Gonelauri was also directly helped by the chairman of the Human Rights Committee to avoid coming to the parliament, but this issue is on the agenda. "Vakhtang Gomelauri is obliged to come to any newly appointed committee, but since he does not do so, we demanded that he come to the parliament again today," she said, adding that the Minister of Internal Affairs must also resign.