On April 8, the violent incident allegedly on the grounds of racial hatred against foreign students took place in Tbilisi. The investigation is ongoing. TDI provides legal assistance to foreign students and represents their interests during the investigation process.
The mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze responded to the incident on April 10. He announced that at the stadium on Beliashvili str. where the alleged offense took place, the friendly football match could be organized between the local residents and foreign students: “The investigation will reveal what had happened, but all of it was very unpleasant to observe. We, Georgians, usually do not have such attitudes and approaches. I want to ask the president of Football Federation, Levan Kobiashvili, if it is possible, to organize a friendly match by the end of the week at the same stadium, where the locals and international students will participate. It would be great to forget those bad things that had happened.”
TDI believes that such statements and initiatives at this stage are damaging for the investigation purposes. It emphasizes the intent of forgetting the alleged offense and not the necessity of effective investigation.
With Tbilisi Mayor's initiative, on April 14, a match was held on Beliashvili Street. The Mayor of Tbilisi and Chairman of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze also participated in the game.
On the same day, Kakhi Kaladze accused NGOs of blackmailing foreign students not to take part in the game.
The initiative of the friendly match shall be hailed, however we believe that primarily, the incident must be investigated objectively and timely, while the intolerance and racism must be clearly condemned by the State officials.
We believe that such an initiative should be directed at encouraging the expression of solidarity towards students and fostering a respect for diversity and tolerance within society.
It is important that statements of state officials are not perceived ambiguously and the government is focused on criticism of the violence and vigorous protection of human rights.
It is regretful, that Mayor of Tbilisi blames NGOs for blackmailing students and avoids unequivocal assessment and condemnation of violence.
The compliant attitudes of the authorities towards the violation of human rights motivated by hatred and intolerance, hampers the prevention of such crimes and encourages further violence.