39 local civil society organizations, including Open Society Georgia Foundation, Transparency International Georgia, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association and UN Association of Georgia, express “grave concern” over the development of June 20, and the “disproportionate use of force by the police” that “went beyond the boundaries of law.”
“In spite of clear requirements envisaged by Georgian law, the respective bodies didn’t provide the protesters with a clear message that the force will be used if the demonstrators did not voluntarily disperse. Moreover, the use of special means, including the intensity, form and purpose of their use were very problematic,” reads the joint statement of June 21.
According to CSOs, “videos from the event show that rubber bullets were aimed from a short distance at the face and head area of the protesters, which leaves the impression that the purpose was to inflict injuries instead of dispersing the protest.”
They also said, the Government of Georgia “did not act reasonably and instead failed to deliver to provide an adequate reaction to the developing political turmoil,” whereas a group of citizens is still announcing to demonstrate in front of the parliament later on this evening.
“In these conditions, it is vital for the Government, as well as political and civil groups, to understand the importance of a peaceful continuation of processes, deterring any further escalation and avoiding any risks to the democratic development of the country,” the CSOs said.
They then called on the Government “to take political responsibility” for the events that developed yesterday, “take credible steps to deescalate the situation and start a real dialogue with political and civil groups,” as well as “consider holding the next parliamentary elections through the proportional system.”
The CSOs called on Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia to resign “due to the disproportionate use of force by the law enforcement against the protesters and the subsequent severe consequences.”
They then called on police “to protect the right to peaceful demonstration” at today’s event and “not allow for the use of disproportionate force,” and Prosecutor’s Office – “to conduct a thorough and objective investigation into the instances of the police’s use of disproportionate force, arbitrary arrests, physical violence against the arrested protesters.”
“Moreover, we address the political opposition to understand its role and responsibility in the development of the events, to refrain from making calls to violence and to deter any possible escalation of the situation,” the statement reads.
International Watchdogs Call for Investigation
Amnesty International, a London-based international human rights organization has issued a statement calling for “an immediate, thorough and independent investigation into use of force by riot police in Georgia, after protesters in Tbilisi were hit with rubber bullets and tear gas.”
In his earlier statement, Human Rights Watch’s Giorgi Gogia said “even when police have grounds to disperse unlawful protests, they do not have carte blanche to do so with violence.”
For more follow our tag on Tbilisi protests.