Initial Assessment of Events Developed at April 30 Rally

Public Defender Levan Ioseliani, as a result of examining the publicly available video footage and interviewing detainees, presented to the public his initial assessments of the events developed during the April 30 rally:

  • Parliament picketing episode: The request to free the administrative building entrances may be legitimate, however, the main thing is to ensure that the force used during the relevant measure is necessary and proportionate, which could not be observed by the Office in individual cases.
  • Pepper spray episode: Later, after about 40 minutes, the law enforcement officers used special equipment, the so-called pepper spray, by targeting both specific persons and the protesters in general. Pepper spray was used several times, which was sometimes accompanied by the removal of people from the area. In no case were there grounds for its use. According to the reports, protesters were not warned regarding the use of special equipment.
  • Start of the use of various equipment: From 23:22, the law enforcement officers started using a large amount of tear gas without warning. And the warning made a few minutes later was followed almost immediately by the use of water cannon. The Public Defender once again emphasizes that at the time of the warning and afterwards, the rally had a peaceful character and there was no reason to terminate it, to call for its dispersal, or to interfere with the freedom of assembly of peaceful protesters.

It should be noted that the participants in the assembly continued to protest peacefully, while the use of special equipment (including tear gas and water cannon) continued for several hours, with intervals, against the protesters who had already moved to Rustaveli Avenue. In addition to the above, the law enforcement officers physically abused the participants in the rally in a number of cases, in different forms. In another video footage, it can be seen how the members of the squad entered the metro station, likely in order to chase the protesters. At the same time, they used insulting phrases and aggressively addressed the citizens present there.

MP Levan Khabeishvili was severely assaulted. He alleges that he was beaten by law enforcement officers.

In addition, as a result of the use of pepper spray, Publika journalists were injured and the work of the TV Pirveli crew was hindered.

  • Visiting detainees: During the night of April 30 and the entire day of May 1, the Public Defender and his representatives visited 49 persons. 47 of them were detained on administrative charges. The Public Defender’s representatives arrived at the detention centers of Tbilisi, Zugdidi, Telavi, Dusheti, Mtskheti, Gori, Khashuri.

31 persons indicated ill-treatment/use of disproportionate force by the police/special forces. Most of them had injuries. 19 out of them demanded a response, about which the Public Defender’s Office immediately informed the Special Investigation Service.

Visits to the detainees continue at the moment.

The Public Defender once again calls on:

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia

  • Not to interfere with citizens’ freedom of assembly and expression unnecessarily, not to allow physical retribution and violence against peaceful protesters by law enforcement officers;

The Special investigative service

  • To carry out all legal and effective measures in order to investigate every case involving elements of crime committed by law enforcement officers against protestors and representatives of the media on April 30/May 1, to identify persons who committed criminal actions and to take legal measures against them.
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