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IDP evictions compared to Ethnic Cleansing

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, February 9
Opposition MP Gia Tsagareishvli from Our Georgia – Free Democrats spoke of the violations carried out by the Georgian Government against IDPs at yesterday’s plenary session. Comparing the process with the ethnic cleansing carried out by the Russian government in previous years Tsagareishvili was concerned about the fate of those IDPs who have now left homeless. “Ethnic Georgians were deported from the Russian Federation on transport planes while Georgian IDPs were sent to the regions on trucks,” the MP said worrying that no one from the ruling United National Movement had encouraged the IDPs protesting in front of the Ministry of IDPs from Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees (MRA).

Ruling majority MPs explained that the MRA had been acting in line with the Standard Operating Procedures developed in consultation with UNHCR and other experts and denied any violations of local and international standards. Lasha Tordia asking his colleagues to refrain from “hardening the conditions of IDPs with political propaganda” The Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee encouraged MPs to become familiar with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) observations on the resumption of the IDP relocation process.

According to the report released on February 2, 2011 UNHCR had observed no major violations of international law or standards in January this year compared with summer 2010. “International human rights laws recognise that freedom of movement puts obligations on states to provide its population with an adequate standard of living, including housing and requires certain procedural safeguards governing any eviction processes. On the other hand it does not give any citizen, including IDPs, the right to be provided with housing at a specific place of preference,” read part of the statement.

Suggesting that a special commission be set up to work on the violations made by MRA the leader of Georgian Troupe Jondi Bagaturia presented the Chamber of Control’s summary on this issue. “We have a sensible doubt whether millions of GEL has been spent by the MRA not for IDPs benefit,” Bagaturia told his colleagues. Opposition Deputy Chairman of Parliament Paata Davitaia was also concerned about the fate of the 70% of IDPs who refused to take alternative shelter and continued to rent flats in the capital.

Vakhtang Balavadze, Chairman of the Regional Policy, Self-Government and Mountainous Regions Committee tried to prove the opposite: encouraging his colleagues to remember the positive steps made by the Government, Balavadze explained “the need for time to solve all the IDPs issues.”

Giving further examples of violations carried out by the Government, Paata Davitaia proposed an investigation of the military veterans’ issue. Wondering why old photos of veterans had been thrown in recycling bins, Davitaia highlighted the merit of veterans towards the country. “Let no one think that the war is over – veterans are people who are always ready to hold guns in defense of their country,” he said. Majority MPs didn’t take the issue of the “discarded photos” seriously. Expressing his respect towards the heroes Goka Gabashvili asked the opposition to refrain from using “tabloid rumors” as a proofs. MP Davit Darchiashvili encouraged the idea of starting an investigation but doubted whether all the veterans had been “honest”. “Veterans are the most respected people in our country. The Government is doing everything it can to improve their living conditions but this issue shouldn’t become the subject for political arguments,” he added.