Georgians - in information blockade
The following message I received this morning from a prominent human rights activist in Georgia:
"I am not supporting any political power. However, what happened yesterday was very ugly. State of emergency that is declared now is limiting our basic human rights. I do not get any information. Please sign this petition following the link bellow."
Please sign and distribute the following petition as wide as possible
Below is a full text of the petition. Please, follow the link above and sign it.
Stop abuses by the government of Georgia
The Government of President Saakashvili has revealed its authoritarian nature, ordering SWAT teams to violently curb peaceful protest in streets of Tbilisi.
On November 7, 2007 at approximately 5 am Georgian SWAT teams violently dispelled a peaceful manifestation outside the building of Parliament in Tbilisi. Police used teargas, water, rubber bullets and blunt force clubs against peaceful demonstrations.
Opposition leaders who were engaged in a hunger strike and lying on the street were severely beaten. Koba Davitashvili of People’s Party and singer George Gachechiladze are in hospitals in critical conditions. Others face the risk of prosecution on the charges of treason.
Around 5 p.m., riot police again attacked opposition demonstrators who had gathered some kilometers away from the Parliament.
508 people had sought emergency assistance due to injuries and gas poisoning. Some of them are in critical condition. Georgia’s ombudsman, Sozar Subari, was also attacked by riot police with rubber truncheons. Riot police later raided the private television station, Imedi TV and forced it and the Kavkasia television station to stop broadcasting. Later in the evening, the government declared the state of emergency and suspended a number of legal rights. Electronic and print media was prohibited to cover news stories.
For the moment, members of the Parliamentary Majority and the President have made statements, threatening to arrest those that speak against the clampdown.
The protest rally started on November 2, 2007, when tens of thousands of protestors, led by the 10-party opposition coalition, gathered outside the parliament on Tbilisi’s main street. The protest organizers had informed the government of their intention to gather at the parliament building, as required under Georgian law.
Several thousand protestors continued to demonstrate peacefully for five days outside the parliament. They demanded timely parliamentary elections and reform of the election management body and voting system.
We, undersigned, call on the international community:
1) to interfere urgently in the crisis in Georgia to prevent further casualties and deterioration of situation;
2) to condemn massive violation of human rights by the law enforcement agencies of Georgia;
3) to pressure the Georgian government to stop persecution of opposition members and dissenters;
4) to influence President Mikhail Saakashvili and his government to cancel emergency rule and remove ban from the media;
5) to compel the Georgian government to release all political prisoners.
“Even in a time of crisis, Georgians have a right to protest peacefully without being beaten by the police,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Firing rubber bullets at peaceful demonstrators is a complete abuse of the use of force. The government does not have a carte blanche to restrict fundamental freedoms just because it is in crisis.”