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Georgia: Authorities must immediately investigate attacks on government critics

Reacting to the brutal attack by unknown men on a civil activist in Georgia just hours after the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament accused him in a social media post of participating in an “organized and politically motivated campaign of terror”, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International Deputy International Director for Europe East and Central Asia said:

“After dozens of similar violent incidents, the attack on Zuka Berdzenishvili, just hours after he was personally summoned by the Speaker of Parliament as a threat to the government, raises serious concerns. “Such actions by government officials could easily be interpreted as a green light to use violence against government critics with impunity.”

After dozens of similar brutal incidents, serious concerns are raised about the attack on Zuka Berdzenishvili, just hours after he was personally called a threat to the government by the Speaker of Parliament

Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“We are deeply concerned by the Georgian government’s false pretense that the criticism it faces is a violent conspiracy against the establishment. Their increasing suppression of dissent is not a form of defense, but an attack on human rights and a violation of Georgia’s international human rights obligations. Criticism of government, no matter how severe, constitutes protected speech, and all public officials have an obligation to endure high levels of criticism and scrutiny.

“Georgian authorities must end the cycle of violence, immediately investigate all violent attacks and ensure that the perpetrators, whoever they are, are brought to justice through a fair trial.”

Background

On the morning of June 11, Zuka Berdzenishvili, a civic activist, was attacked near his home in Tbilisi by three unknown men, suffering head injuries. This happened just hours after Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili published a post on social media in which she named Berdzenishvili as one of the “outraged citizens” participating in an “organized and politically motivated campaign of terror” against members of Georgia’s ruling party. Dream. According to Papuashvili, Berdzenishvili made threatening phone calls to members of parliament, which Amnesty International is currently unable to independently verify.

In recent weeks, numerous opposition activists in Georgia have faced attacks following the government’s swift approval of controversial “foreign influence” legislation that was widely criticized as an attack on the right to freedom of association. Amid the mass protests, reports of intimidation, arbitrary arrests and violence against demonstrators and perceived government critics have increased. Notable incidents include suspicious figures near the residence of opposition leader Zurab Japaridze on June 10 following an earlier brutal attack on his brother; the broad daylight assault of student Niko Managadze on June 7 and the arrest of activist Ioseb Babaevi on apparently false firearms charges on June 4. It was also reported that at least two people were detained for publicly confronting and criticizing parliamentarians, and one of them is facing trial on charges of hooliganism.