Residents of Shukruti village in Chiatura municipality, who have for 104 days protested mining activities damaging their homes and orchards, moved on May 30 to Tbilisi to continue their hunger strike outside the U.S. Embassy.
A Shukruti resident who has sewed his mouth partly shut in protest, Giorgi Neparidze said the protesters hope that U.S. Ambassador Kelly Degnan could sympathize with their “hardship,” as neither local nor central Georgian authorities “take interest” in their protest.
Many of us see that the authorities give consideration to the U.S. Ambassador’s views, Neparidze added.
The protesters said they were not allowed to set up tents near the Embassy, and they have to remain without shelter in the heat outside. But they still pledged to remain there unless the government takes “active steps” to meet their demands, or until they “die.”
20 days have passed since some of the Shukruti protesters went on hunger strike in an attempt to attract attention from authorities to help solve their dispute with the local mining giant Georgian Manganese. Eight protesters overall, including three women, have sewed up their lips as a radical form of protest since May 11.
Villagers allege that mining activities performed by Shukruti+ company, a contractor of the Georgian Manganese, lead to sinking soil and consequently, the destruction of their living environment. Demands include fair compensation based on property value estimates carried out by the Levan Samkharauli National Forensics Bureau “as specified by law,” state-brokered agreement between locals and the company, and termination of “unlawful” persecution against the protesters.
On May 20, Georgian Manganese stated it was ready to allow damage estimate by Samkharauli Bureau, as demanded by protesters, under the condition that “the stalled negotiation over the compensation with these residents moves into a legal domain and the existing dispute is resolved through justice.” The company has not yet reached a final agreement with the protesting residents.
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