Fwd: Meskhetians in Georgia


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Date: Thu, 8 Oct 1998 13:31:31 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: Fwd: Meskhetians in Georgia

From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: HR Center of Azerbaijan <eldar@hrcenter.baku.az>

Fwd: Meskhetians in Georgia


From: Paata Zakareishvili <paatazak@access.sanet.ge>

Muslim Meskhs - Georgian State's test
 
On September 17 at night police deported from Georgia about 50 Muslim
Meskhs. So Meskhs' problem turned out in the centre of public
attention once more. During the years the problem of Muslim Meskhs was
the point of issue. Only small part of our society recognizes that
Meskhs' rights are violated and must be restored. For the majority
even the discussion of Meskhs' homecoming is unacceptable. They put
the question in the following way - who are Muslem Meskhs - ethnic
Georgians or Turks, what is their self-identification, what is their
sentiments - pro-Georgian or pro-Turkish, how much profitful will be
their return for Georgian State, Georgian national interests. But the
fact is that the question must be put otherwise: weather their claim
is legal. And this must be a sole criteria for the question's
solution. If Meskhs' claim is legal, there must be no debates if their
return corresponds to the interests of Georgian statehood. If we hold
that the state interests can be protected only by illegality, so we
must confess that our aim is to build illegal state.

Eyewitness account
 
"It's said, in the derelict church devils are masters, and the same
has happened to us, - said Meskh Amiran Kuradze, who lives in Tbilisi
for 11 years, but on October 17 was deported as one of the leaders of
the society "Khsna" (Rescue), - it was horrible, they came upon us
like devils at one o'clock in the morning and gave us 10 minutes for
leaving the building. We were on our way up to seven o'clock in the
morning. It was a repetition of 1994 year. Elderly men said that after
all these they don't believe that in 1944 they were deported by
Russians. The action of October 17 demonstrated that the 1944 was
Georgians' handiwork."

On October 17 police deported delegation of Meskhs, who has arrived
from Russia and Azeri together with Meskhs, who has arrived here long
ago. At first they were pushed to so-called "chornaia vorona" and then
by buses were conveyed Lars and left on the neutral zone. There were
some young people among them, who did 2-year military service in
Georgian army and according to their military cards their nationality
was "Georgian". Police was said to be guided by Shalva Rukhadze, Head
of Administrative Police of Gldani district and Jemal Janashia from
Ministry of Security.

According to victims, police treated them too severely. "They jeered
at us with the following words: give them Turkish flags and send to
Turkey, - says Amiran Kuradze, - I'm a Georgian, who has retrieved
name, nationality and they jeer at me and send to Turkey."

According to Alexandra Tevzadze, chief specialist of Parliament, the
delegation has arrived in order to find out if President
Shevardnadze's order on their resettlement of 1996 will be carried
out. The delegation's majority was elderly people. They remembered
1944 year and their only request was to visit Akhaltsikhe for taking
from their ancestors' graves ground, as they didn't hope to return
Georgia any more.

Minister on Refugees and Settling Valeri Vashakidze promised them to
give a bus. Next day the delegation was to meet State Minister Vazha
Lortkipanidze, but Security Minister Kakha Targamadze forestalled both
of them and arranged for them excursion to another place.

The people were sure that Vashakidze deceived them. Meskhs' intentions
was unknown - they were so embarrased that couldn't say even a word.

There was 70-year Imnadze among the members of the delegation. He was
crying all the way, because this trip reminded of deportation in 1944.
Meskhs' majority knows the Georgian language. But they aren't allow to
return their Georgian names, because it needs citizenship that they
haven't. But in spite of all some of them return names by partisan
methods.

The happened event excited negative response from international
community as well as from Meskhs themselves. It was a real provocation
against the state and its authority if, however, this action wasn't
organized by this authority.

"I live in Georgia for 21 years, in Tbilisi for 11 years and I
remember nothing but lie from Georgian authority. As there is no other
way out, we'll leave Georgia as a protest and struggle for justice
from outside", - says Amiran Kuradze.

Their patience is exhausted, - says Alexandra Tevzadze, - according to
them if they don't get moral compensation after this incident, they
all will leave Georgia and struggle for the protection of their
dignity. In Georgia they are absolutely disregarded.

Actually Meskhs can't get Georgian citizenship. Up to now it was
prevented by Ministry of Justice. Parliamentarian Eldar Shengelaia
said that President Shevardnadze gave an instruction to new Minister
of Justice to find any form of granting these people citizenship.
"Minister of Justice did everything for granting no citizenship for
Meskhs. They invented excuses, justifying themselves, - says Alexandra
Tevzadze, - since the law on refugees was passed they lost all
statuses and were left in mid-air. They are in this position for 8
months. Targamadze said that Meskhs lived without registration and
that's why he deported them. But they lived so for 8 months.

Shevardnadze gave an instruction to prepare citizenship documents of
160 people for his signature. Ministry of Justice demanded many papers
and at last it demanded non-being a citizen of other states. Meskhs'
documents were obliterated in Central Asia. And it's impossible to
collect them.

"Only Mamuka Khutsishvili (Memed Suleimanov) could collect all the
necessary documents, - says Alexandra Tevzadze, - he bought a house in
Akhaltsikhe and settled there. He has 2 children. Neighbours love him
very much, but the administration of Samtskhe-Javakheti tries to
restrict him, resorting to every dirty mean. They forced people to
demand his expulsion. Since Ministry of Justice gave him visa for
acquiring a citizenship, 4 months passed, but it is still unsigned,
because in the State Office Tamaz Kipiani couldn't submit it to the
President for signature. Finally, Kipiani said - Ministry of Security
told me not to settle Meskhs in Samtskhe as they would create a
tension.

This statement is nonsense, of course. It's not clear, if Muslim
Meskhs settle on other regions of Georgia and then after acquiring a
citizenship go to Meskheti, which law will ban them to do it? While
the discussion of Khutsishvili case in Ministry of Justice Board, some
women said that this case was first and last.
 
Neither citizenship nor rehabilitation
 
The problem is not only citizenship. Muslim Meskhs aren't mentioned in
the law on victims of repression - rehabilitation didn't concern
ethnic groups, deported in 1944. This law is discriminative and
besides this many Muslim Meskhs consider themselves to be Georgians
and it's incorrect to mention them as ethnic group.

According to Alexandra Tevzadze, this law has restricted Germans'
rights, deported from Georgia and its authors has got into
difficulties. We can't treat Germans in the same way as Meskhs -
because we want an integration with Europe and must have a civilized
country. Meskhs aren't Germans, they haven't influential lobby like
Germans. 

"Deported people demand rehabilitation in moral aspect, they don't
demand social rehabilitation. These people were deported on the basis
of religion and aren't they worth of even a declarative recognition?"
- asks Mrs. Alexandra.

The action organized by police has complicated relations between
Meskhs living in hostels and IDPs from Abkhazia. The latter consider
Meskhs as their enemies. They threaten Meskhs with banishment from the
building. Some of them agitate against Meskhs.

It seems that we build a state where human rights are disregarded not
only by individuals but also by groups of them instead of building a
democratic and public society. It can be thought that our authority
wishes to be so, otherwise how does it happen that:

President orders to prepare citizenship documents for 160 people but
Minister of Justice disregards his order;

A citizen collects all the necessary documents, but an official of the
State Office impedes its order's execution;

Parliament passes a discriminative law. Among 8 peoples deported by
Soviet regime only Meskhs are left without a permission for
homecoming. And after all this country has a claim on membership in
European Council;

Ministry of Internal Affairs deports Meskhs while the State Minister
is going to meet Meskhs' delegation and Refugees Minister is ready to
give them a bus for an excursion.

Also, it's not clear where is the end of state policy and the
beginning of officials' independent action, because it is said one and
done another. However, Meskhs are sure that they are and will be
deceived, otherwise they can't understand why their rights' infringers
haven't been punished yet. Meskhs assess the policy regarding them in
two words - fascism and apartheid.

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