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Another wave of evictions start

By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, August 11
IDPs affected by the war in Abkhazia in 1990s face eviction from their apartments. Families who have been living in Tbilisi for more than 20 years are asking the Georgian Government either to stop the eviction or provide them with satisfactory alternative spaces. Accusing the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia (MRA) in neglecting their rights IDPs held a protest rally in front of the Ministry on Wednesday. “We are not against leaving... but let the Government ensure at least basic living conditions for the IDPs,” organizer of the rally Soso Vakhtangishvili told The Messenger.

According to the letter from the Ministry received on August 5, the 270 families [around 700 people] have to leave the building of the hotel “Abkhazia” in ten days' time. Stressing they “won’t stop”, IDPs ask the local and international organizations to mediate with the Georgian Government. The Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA) discussed the situation of IDPs at a press-conference. Hotel “Abkhazia” at Vazha-Pshavela # 25, where IDPs have been registered since 1991has a status of compact settlement. Thus GYLA addressed the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MIA) to terminate the eviction process.

IDPs applied to the court to issue a temporary verdict that would prohibit the Ministry of Interior Affairs from evicting them until the dispute is finally settled by the court. IDPs also demanded a meeting with Levan Kalmakhelidze, representative of Ltd “Velajio” - the new owner of the hotel “Abkhazia”. According to the information provided by the National Public Registry, Ltd “Velajio” bought the building on July 26, 2011. “They want to force us to leave the building but offer unfair deal. On the one hand the MRA offers IDPs USD 10 000 which is not enough for buying a flat even in the suburbs of Tbilisi, while on the other hand – an unfinished building at the end of Rustavi near Gardabani,” Vakhtangishvili worried. It means that the IDPs living in the capital for so many years may lose their jobs and face hunger by moving to other places.

IDPs disappointed with the Government’s decision feel as if they have become double refugees. “We need no money! The only thing we ask the officials is to return us to our homes, but if they can’t do so – let them simply provide us with normal living conditions,” one of the elder IDPs said in tears. Conservative Party member Lasha Chkhartishvili worried that the Georgian Government is treating IDPs like enemies. “Unfortunately President Mikheil Saakashvili is chasing IDPs from their temporary accommodations as the Russian occupation army had done,” he told to The Messenger.

Recollecting the pre-election promises given to IDPs, the opposition party member called the Government to legitimize apartments or start negotiations with individual families about adequate financial compensation. Protest rallies demanding “the fair deal” would continue. Chkhartishvili appealed to all IDPs to support those facing eviction on August 15 and asked them to consolidate around the problem. GYLA called on the Ministry of IDPs to protect the interests of these people and refrain from issuing consent for their eviction until a willful consent is reached but the Ministry even refused to meet the protesters. The court decision would be known in a couple of days in case of refusal to stop the illegal process and protesters threaten that “they would show the world how the Government is treating its IDPs”.