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“We will overwhelm you!” hate groups tell the Police, menacing Tbilisi Pride

The Ministry of Interior said in an official statement issued on June 15, that 28 people were detained for disturbing public order, as they shouted slurs and threw eggs at the LGBTQI rights activists at the Government Administration building last night. According to the statement, 21 were released after a warning, while seven, who have physically assaulted activists and journalists remain in temporary detention.

The activists, among them organizers of Tbilisi Pride, gathered to demand government action after the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate released a statement calling Tbilisi Pride, planned for June 18-23 “absolutely unacceptable” and demanded from the government “not to allow it”.

The Interior Ministry said its “utmost objective” is to ensure public order and protect citizen’s safety.

“The Ministry has been protecting and will protect the freedom of assembly and the freedom of expression of each citizen notwithstanding their political views, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and any other characteristics, if their freedom of expression does not exceed legally permissible boundaries,” reads the statement.

It then noted that the Ministry “is studying in detail” the video footage of the incident that took place during the demonstration yesterday and the actions recorded therein “will be given their legal qualification in the shortest period of time.”

Hate groups to police: “we will overwhelm you”!

Meanwhile, Levan Vasadze, self-styled “knight” and ultra-conservative, who was the most visible presence at the counter-gathering released a video today calling on his “adult male” supporters, to gather on June 16 to be briefed about the “plan of action” aimed at countering Tbilisi Pride and “protect order” in Georgia.

He said “first, I had the impression that the police were behaving well, but then they started to act very badly. They were assaulting peaceful demonstrators [at the counter-rally], detaining them and dragging them to the police stations. The others [LGBTI activists] they were pampering like idols. It seems that’s the kind of order they received –

and I want to tell whoever gave that order – Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili and whoever is at the top in Georgia – make no mistakes! In this coming weeks, we will not allow them [LGBTI activists] to stage any public action, we won’t allow you [the police] to cordon them off – wherever this would happen, in movie theaters, in parks, in the streets, in the mountains or on the lakes, we will visit you everywhere, we will break through any cordon, we will overwhelm you!”

In the meantime, ultra-nationalist Georgian March announced they will be joining the counter-action against Tbilisi Pride and called other radical groups for joint action to disrupt Tbilisi Pride. Georgian March Facebook post says says “only by uniting our forces will we vanquish our common enemy!!! Gay-parade shall fail and we will definitely disrupt it!!! May the Lord will your unity!!!”

Parallel rallies at the Government Administration

Two parallel rallies in front of the Government Administration lasted for about seven hours with some hate groups and priests preventing the LGBTQI activists from gathering.

Shouting insults and throwing small objects at the activists and journalists, the radical groups were separated from the LGBTQI rights activists by a police cordon.

The activists, who called on the authorities to publicly uphold the rights of citizens planning Tbilisi Pride, were forced to move away from their intended place of gathering, which was now occupied by the counter-demonstrators. Their peaceful demonstration continued until midnight.

Some representatives of civil society and political parties, including Republican Party’s Khatuna Samnidze and Tamar Kordzaia, as well as European Georgia’s Elene Khoshtaria also joined the queer community and issued statements of support, criticizing the government for silence.

Deputy Public Defender Giorgi Burjanadze, who also went to the demonstrations to study the situation on ground, was verbally abused by the hate groups.

According to Burjanadze, the developments in front of the Government Administration “do not contribute to exercise of the freedom of assembly and manifestation” in Georgia and “direct threats” voiced during the counter-rally “need to be addressed.”

LGBTQI activists, who left the territory on mini buses accompanied by the police, said they will not cancel events scheduled for Tbilisi Pride next week.

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This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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