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GEORGIA

Georgian Police Raids Office of Gay Group, Arrests, Detains ILGA-Europe Board Member

 

 

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■ Arrested and detained by Georgian police: Paata Sabelashvili of Inclusive Foundation (pictured at Budapest Gay Pride and Dignity March in September 2009).
photo UK Gay News

 

BRUSSELS, December 24, 2009    Georgia police have raided an office of the country’s gay and lesbian group, Inclusive Foundation, and have arrested Paata Sabelashvili, the group’s leader.

Inclusive Foundation is ILGA-Europe’s member organisation in Georgia and Mr. Sabelashvili is a member of the ILGA executive board.

According to ILGA-Europe, the raid was on December 15.

In a statement issued today, ILGA-Europe said it was “shocked” by the conduct of the Georgian police, “which had clearly homophobic motives”.  The group called for the immediate release of Mr. Sabelashvili.

“We are very troubled by this news,” said Linda Freimane, co-chair of the ILGA-Europe’s executive board of ILGA-Europe.

“The information we have received from Georgia indicates that the police acted disproportionately and completely ignored basic rule of law.  Moreover, we are extremely concerned about the safety of Paata Sabelashvili, who is not allowed any contact with the outside world.”

Martin K.I. Christensen, the other co-chair added that ILGA-Europe was in close contact with Inclusive Foundation and was monitoring the situation.

“We are compiling the facts and details so we can bring this shocking situation to the attention of various European institutions and eventually ensure that Georgian authorities behave in accordance with the rule or law and agreed international human rights standards,” he said.

“We will be releasing any further information as soon as we have more details.”

In Tbilisi, the Inclusive Foundation revealed that the police, who were not in uniform during the raid, threatened to kill two members if they continued to demand the production of search warrants.

According to an “open letter” from the Inclusive Foundation: “One of the armed men, distinct with homophobic statements and his aggressive behaviour towards staff members, introduced himself as an Operative Officer of the Constitutional Security Department of the Ministry of Interior Giorgi Gegechkori.

However, on the pre-trial measure hearing of Paata Sabelashvili he appeared as Investigator David Khidesheli. Another man, who later turned out to be the head of the police division, threatened Eka Agdgomelashvili with killing if she immediately would not stop pointing out that they were violating the law.

“He shouted : “I will kill you!” “I will tear you into pieces!”  After one of the staff members said that he was exceeding his powers, he shouted: “Sue me, I don’t give a damn”, “I am myself the Law and the Judge!”

■  Inclusive Foundation in Tbilisi has a Facebook page, Support Inclusive Foundation.

Appeal by Inclusive Foundation to the President of Georgia, diplomatic services accredited to Georgia and international Organisations containing details of the raid and arrest. (pdf file)

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Posted: 24 Dec 2009 at 13:00 (UK time)
updated at 14:00

   
             
       

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