Public Defender’s Statement on Events Developing on Rustaveli Avenue
The Public Defender of Georgia considers the ongoing violent events on Rustaveli Avenue and near the office of the Shame Movement extremely disturbing. The footage released by the media clearly shows how violent groups are attacking the supporters of the March of Dignity and journalists. The situation poses a real threat to the life and health of representatives of the media and hampers their journalistic activities.
By shifting responsibility onto the peaceful demonstrators, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili further exacerbated the already tense situation, after he described the March of Dignity as a cause for civil confrontation and said that "revanchist and radical" political forces were behind the Pride.
The Public Defender once again reminds senior officials that the protectioon of freedom of peaceful expression and assembly, including by responding to counter-demonstrators' violent actions, is a constitutional obligation of the State and calls on the law enforcement agencies to use legal mechanisms to remove alleged offenders from public spaces.
The Public Defender calls on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to address the ongoing violence in public space, which poses a threat to the lives and health of citizens, and to take legal action in relation to physical assaults and verbal abuse.