Stop Georgian State’s Discriminatory Policy
To: The Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Honorable Ban Ki-moon,
The President of the European Commission, the Honorable José Manuel Barroso
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the Honorable Terry Davis
CC: The President of the Republic of Georgia, His Excellency Mikheil Saakashvili
Although Georgia, as a multiethnic state, joined and ratified numerous international documents for the protection of national minorities, the actual situation in the country within this sphere is rather alarming.
The Armenian Minority in Georgia, particularly the part of it living compactly in the Javakheti region, is underrepresented in all spheres of public life. The Georgian central Government is gradually enforcing laws obliging minorities to use exclusively the Georgian language in all fields of public activity, and particularly in the self-government bodies, in the local administration and in the local educational system. Posts in the local administration, educational sphere or any other post for the holders of professional licenses are now contingent on the knowledge of the Georgian language and require qualification exams in this respect.
In addition, the Armenian Apostolic Church lacks the status of an officially recognized legal entity within the country, while its churches nationalized by the Soviet regime, still remain unreturned to their legitimate owners.
All these human and minority rights violations push the Armenian population of Georgia to leave their homeland. This deplorable outcome is a direct consequence of the intolerant policy adopted towards minorities by the central Georgian government which thus expresses its obvious unwillingness to implement in public life the international obligations it had assumed in this respect, particularly the ones assumed within the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
The UN Human Rights Committee in its 91st session (October 15-16th, 2007) called upon the Georgian authorities to take steps to ensure to all the equal enjoyment of the right of freedom of religion and faith and asked to insure that its legislation and practices conform fully to the international standards in practice.
The Committee expressed its concern for the obstacles faced by minorities in the enjoyment of their cultural rights, as well as for the low level of their political representation, and recommended to the Georgian government to consider the possibility of allowing minorities to use their own language at the local government and administration levels, and to take all appropriate measures to ensure adequate political representation and participation of minorities. The UN committee also required from the Georgian authorities to take steps to eliminate language-based discriminatory practices.
Despite the UN Human Rights Commission’s recommendations and despite many other alarming international reports on this same subject, the Georgian Government continues its discriminatory policy towards the Armenians of Javakheti, the last manifestations of this policy being the recent arrests and tensions in Akhalkalaki (regional center of the Armenian-populated district of Javakheti).
A blast, and later on the violent death of two ethnic Armenian policemen which took place in very obscure and dubious circumstances respectively on July 17 and 20 of 2008, were used by the Georgian authorities as a pretext to initiate on a very large scale an unprecedented wave of political persecutions, arrests and detentions accompanied by flagrant violations of human rights.
1. By setting free all political prisoners detained during the recent events in Akhalkalaki and guaranteeing a fair and unbiased investigation of the mentioned incidents,
2. By implementing the rule of law and guaranteeing the security of the Armenian population,
3. By ensuring the freedom of faith and registering the Armenian Apostolic Church as a legal entity,
4. By returning all confiscated places of worship to their legitimate owners,
5. By allowing by legislation the use of the Armenian language in all spheres of public life in local administrative areas where the Armenian population represents a majority.