GYLA Responds to Attack on Youth Near TSU During PM’s Lecture, Says Police Action Inadequate

On May 18, the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), a local human rights watchdog, responded to the attack by an allegedly pre-organized group on students who were planning to peacefully protest the foreign agents law at the entrance of the second building of Tbilisi State University (TSU) while Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze was delivering a lecture inside. The GYLA says that the police at the scene did not take any legal action against the violent individuals and therefore calls on the Prosecutor’s Office to open an investigation into the case.

On Saturdays, Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze, who is also a lecturer at the TSU Law Faculty, gives lectures in the second building of the university. As reported, the group of students planned to protest today, May 18, against the foreign agents law while PM Kobakhidze was giving a lecture at the university. According to public sources, these students were confronted by pre-organized, pro-government violent groups who verbally and physically attacked them. Meanwhile, the police, who were mobilized on the scene, seemed inactive in the face of the incident. Some of the police even refused to say that an attack had taken place. PM Kobakhidze did not comment on the incident to journalists when he was leaving the university with his security guards.

“The response of the mobilized police to the incident was marked by inaction or inadequate actions focused on separating the sides, with no legal measures taken against the violent individuals,” the GYLA says.

The GYLA also notes with “deep concern” reports from students in recent days of threatening and intimidating phone calls to them and their family members for protesting the Russian-style law and exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and expression.

The watchdog, reiterating the inadequate response of the police mobilized on the scene during today’s incident, calls on the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to open an investigation and “respond effectively” to the persecution and violence against students on discriminatory grounds.

It also calls on the TSU administration to protect students’ right to peaceful assembly, to take measures to ensure their safety, and to address any violations of students’ rights within its competence.

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