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Students continue protest of "violent regime"

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, September 25
5 days after releasing the video footage about the prisoner abuse within the penitentiary system, students continue to demand the punishment of other “members of the system” responsible for the abuse. Under the slogans SOS, Stop Violence; the System Must be Collapsed; I am a Student and I Condemn, they gathered at Tbilisi State University (TSU) on September 24.

Under the slogan Your Democracy Hurts, students moved to the House of Justice demanding the release of several young activists and the resignation of the Minister of Defence Dimitri Shashkin and his deputy Data Akhalaia, the brother of the recently resigned Minister of Internal Affairs Bacho Akhalaia.

“We will never stop,” the students encouraged their peers to stand against the violent regime and the students’ union Laboratory 1918 called everyone to unite for peace and avoid provocations because they are non-political and no political party can use them for their election campaigns.

But Nini Makhatadze from Movement Students’ Voice noticed “provokers” among the students. Men in dark suits standing among the students refused to say who they are, which university they represent and what they demand.

Zhuzha Kemoklidze from Laboratory 1918 said although they try to cooperate with everyone and achieve a consensus, these men had “strange” proposals. But she stressed the student movement is free of any political bias and the political preferences can only be expressed on Election Day at the ballot boxes.

“We want peace and with peaceful rallies we will reach elections,” student Tamar Kobidze said, demanding to stop terrorizing prisoners, their families and the entire Georgian public and encouraging every media source to fairly cover their peaceful activities.

Student of TSU, Girshel Zviadadze, discouraged “closing eyes on injustice”, stressing that the youth should make everyone realize that they are “the power.”

“I am personally the part of that power that is why we are together,” he said, stressing that instead of throwing ashes in people’s eyes the government had better show people that they care for them and that they take these problems close to their hearts.

Sharing their demands, chairperson of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, Tamar Chugoshvili also joined the students’ rally. Chugoshvili said the dismissal of the ministers is not enough without raising their political responsibility. She said without resignation of the Minister of Justice Zurab Adeishvili and the General Prosecutor Murtaz Zodelava it will be impossible to ensure the objectiveness of the investigation. “They are not and cannot be trusted now,” she said.

By the end of the day, the students joined the public movement at the State Concert Hall. Concerned that the government may artificially encourage provocations within the public movement, Davit Gogishvili, the organizer of the rally at State Concert Hall, said the high officials plan to announce a state of emergency because of the protest rallies held throughout the country. He said even the smallest confrontation among the people will be the responsibility of President Mikheil Saakashvili and no one else.