Twenty-two local civil society organizations (CSOs) on February 23 condemned the Georgian Government’s decision to detain Nika Melia, the largest opposition party Chairman. Melia was detained through a special operation at the United National Movement (UNM) headquarters earlier this morning.
CSOs said the police storming UNM headquarters “will further aggravate the political crisis in the country,” when “the Georgian Government could have eased the situation through legal and non-violent means.”
“It is unfortunate that the authorities did not wait for the review of Melia’s complaint in the Court of Appeals,” the third sector said, expressing regret that the Government “did not display the will to ease the difficult situation and conduct the political process in a calm environment.”
“It is clear that the full responsibility for the future aggravation of the processes lies with the ruling power [Georgian Dream],” the CSOs said, adding that the government is “on the path of escalation.”
Noting that the detainment of the UNM Chair is “a continuation of the aggressive rhetoric from freshly-elected Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili,” the CSOs concluded that the incident “significantly hurt” Georgia’s international reputation, and could have caused “irreparable damage” to the country.
The third sector also stressed the importance of preventing further polarization and civil strife, while calling on Georgia’s international partners to react appropriately.
“Today, as never before, Georgia needs the support of our Western partners,” the CSOs asserted, underscoring that “if the situation escalates further, the country may lose all of the achievements it has made throughout its independence.”
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