Members of platform "No to Phobia!” are concerned by the threats made against non-governmental organisation Identoba, and its representative, Irakli Vacharadze. Comments made on social networks call for physical elimination of Vacharadze, in response to his criticism of the Christmas speech made by the head of Orthodox Church of Georgia. The Platform calls to law-enforcement bodies to apply every legal instrument available towards the authors of such threats, and to immediately take steps to ensure the safety of Identoba’s members. Should the Government of Georgia fail to do so, all responsibility in case of any acts of violence against Vacharadze, or Identoba, will be the sole responsibility of the State.
One of the authors of the afore-mentioned hate campaign is the leader of "Free Generation”, Lado Sadghobelashvili, who writes on Facebook: "I call Vacharadze to apologies, or else we will knock on his doors”, "Irakli Vacharade - say you are sorry! Plead for forgiveness! If you don’t do so, you must know that Identoba will cease to exist! You and your shady agency will see its worth days! You [Identoba] are United National Movement-controlled extremist organisation which needs to be over soon!!! Lord stands with us!” These threats are followed by numerous aggressive comments by other persons, including calls to take Vacharadze’s life away.
We are particularly worried by the fact, that Lado Sadghobelashvili has publicly announced, on his Facebook wall, for a rally against Identoba, in front of the organisation’s premises. The rally is, in his words, for termination of the Identoba.
According to Vacharadze, he has been contacted by Giorgi Gabedava, on the phone from Moscow, who sends messages that clearly contain threats to take his life, listing of his home address, menace to visit his family and attack it, and other texts of defamatory nature.
We believe that threat to physical violence is possibly taking place against Irakli Vacharadze, and against Identoba, a crime defined by Georgia’s Crime Code Article 151. In such scenarios, Georgia’s Prosecutor General is required to immediatelly launch an investigation. The State is also obligated to take measures to provide safety, and security of Irakli Vacharadze, and Identoba’s staff members.
Additionally, the Government of Georgia must do everything it can to ensure freedom of speech and freedom of expression is respected in Georgia. These rights are a key achievements of a democratic state and exercising them should not cost citizens of Georgia their health and, especially, their lives.
Georgian Democracy Initiative, GDI
Transparency International - Georgia (TI)
Media Development Foundation, MDF
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, ISFED
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center, EMC
Georgian Reforms Association, GRASS
Georgian Young Lawyers Association, GYLA
Tolerance and Diversity Institute, TDI
Constitution Article 42
European Centre for Minority Issues, ECMI