Special statement regarding the protest rally held at the National Library

11 Feb, 2013


The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, Transparency International Georgia, the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association and the Open Society Georgia Foundation condemn the acts of violence which took place during the protests held at the National Library in Tbilisi on February 8.

We think that the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia failed to provide effective preventive measures to ensure that the guests of the event did not suffer injuries as a result of the rally. The tension was diffused after the Minister of Interior arrived at the scene. The fact that the minister personally intervened in the matter is clearly a positive step, but we believe that the ministry was not successful in putting in place appropriate measures to ensure the safety of participants. Due to the tense atmosphere, the president’s speech had to be postponed.

It is important to note that freedom of assembly and expression are among the most significant values in a democratic society. However, this right must be realized within the framework of the law. We do understand that many people have an accumulated sense of injustice built up over years, but such sentiments do not justify illegal and violent actions.

We call on the Ministry of the Interior to conduct impartial and effective investigation into the cases of physical assault, and hold the organizers and participants legally responsible, in the shortest time possible.

We also call on the Administration of the President to allow the small number of people who wish to attend the President’s speech to do so. To avoid aggravating the situation, we urge the Parliament to immediately carry the President’s speech and the subsequent debate over into the Parliament building.

We urge the parties to make every effort to avoid confrontation.