Georgian FM Speaks of Deteriorating Situation in Sokhumi, Tskhinvali at UN Human Rights Council

On February 24, Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani delivered a statement at the high-level segment of the 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is held in Geneva on February 24-March 20.

In his remarks, FM Zalkaliani spoke of the “continuously deteriorating” human rights and humanitarian situation in Georgia’s Russia-occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, with fundamental rights of ethnic Georgians “being violated on a daily basis.”

“Against the backdrop of intensified ethnic discrimination, violation of rights to life, deprivation of liberty, arbitrary detentions and kidnappings, infringement of right to property, violations of the right to health, restrictions on education in native language in both Georgian regions, the local population is deprived of minimal safeguards for their lives,” FM Zalkaliani stated.

He then added that the recent decision of the Moscow-backed Tskhinvali authorities to “start removing and prohibit” the sale of Tbilisi-produced and labeled medicines in the occupied region, “represents further assault on the right to health and endangers lives of the local population.”

According to Zalkaliani, the “sustained practice” of installation of barbed wire fences and other artificial barriers on the Georgian territory, as well as regular closure of crossing points along the occupation line, “continue to have severe implications on freedom of movement, further exacerbating humanitarian conditions on the ground, even resulting in fatal cases.”

The Georgian FM also spoke of “a dangerous tendency” of “deprivation of lives of Georgian citizens” in occupied regions, giving an example of Irakli Kvaratskhelia, who died under unclear circumstances in Abkhazia last March. He further added that perpetrators standing behind the murders of Archil TatunashviliGiga Otkhozoria and Davit Basharuli in previous years also “remain unpunished.”

Zalkaliani noted that this fuels the sense of impunity, and encourages violence against ethnic Georgians on the ground. Therefore, he called on the [UN] member states to support the Georgian government’s Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili blacklist “as a preventive step to avoid further aggravation of situation through imposing the restrictive measures on the individuals responsible for human rights abuses in the occupied regions.”

While speaking of the “several waves of ethnic cleansing” FM Zalkaliani said “the absence of political solution can not and should not be an obstacle to the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of those, lacking the minimal safeguards and living under the imminent threat of expulsion.”

In his remarks, the Georgian Foreign Minister also referred to the Russian campaign of cyberattacks against Georgia. He said, this is the part of the “ongoing hybrid-type of warfare,” which goes against international norms and principles, and undermine Georgia’s sovereignty and democratic developments.

The Minister then called on the Russian Federation “to comply with commitments” undertaken by the EU-mediated 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and “halt its destabilizing activities in Georgia.”

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