Georgia: Jehova's Witnesses

From: MINELRES moderator <>
Date: Sat, 18 Aug 2001 16:38:25 +0300 (EEST)
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Subject: Georgia: Jehova's Witnesses

From: MINELRES moderator <>

Original sender: Emil Adelkhanov <>

Georgia: Jehova's Witnesses

Office of Public Information

For Immediate Release 
August 16, 2001

Jehovah's Witnesses challenge "dubious" Supreme Court of Georgia
ruling in European Court

STRASBOURG, FRANCEó  Jehovah's Witnesses in Georgia filed their second
application in two months with the European Court of Human Rights. 
The latest application challenges a February 22, 2001 Supreme Court of
Georgia ruling later referred to by Georgian Minister of Justice
Mikheil Saakashvili as "dubious."  The ruling in question, while not
banning Jehovah's Witnesses, annulled the registration of two of their
organizations.  In its ruling the Court insisted that Jehovah's
Witnesses could not be registered since no "law on religion" had as
yet been passed in Georgia.

The application argues that the European Convention on Human Rights,
European Court precedent and Georgia's
international law commitments all support the right of association,
which includes the right of religious communities to use legal
entities. It maintains that the Supreme Court ruling attempts to
remove that right in violation of the European Convention and
Georgia's own Constitution, and has resulted in a de facto ban on
Jehovah's Witnesses in Georgia, as the Court walks a fine line between
honoring Georgia's Constitutional and international commitments and
playing to populist extremist politicians with a dark agenda.

Since the ruling there have been countless violent attacks on
Jehovah's Witnesses, the latest occurring within the last week, as
Orthodox extremists perceive it as a signal from the government that
it is "open season" on Jehovah's Witnesses.  Police and prosecutors'
offices routinely dismiss their complaints despite overwhelming

For Immediate Release 
August 12, 2001

Police refuse to interfere as Orthodox extremists carry out fourth
attack on Jehovah's Witnesses in Rustavi

RUSTAVI, GEORGIA:  Around noon today, a mob of Orthodox extremists
broke down the door of the apartment of
Jimsher Gogelashvili, where a religious meeting of Jehovahís Witnesses
was being conducted.  The mob of 15 men, led by Paata Bluashvili and
Mamuka Chubabria, seized literature and personal belongings of the
around 70 Jehovah's Witnesses gathered there, most of them women and
children.  According to eyewitnesses, the mob then proceeded to beat
those in attendance with clubs and metal pipes.  Seven of the victims
required medical treatment for blows to the head and the body.  The
mob trashed chairs, furniture and equipment, and burned the literature
in a bonfire on the street outside.  Some of the victims made to a
nearby police stations, where the police categorically refused to
attend the incident.  

This is the fourth attack by Orthodox extremists in the city of
Rustavi this year.  To date, no one has been arrested or prosecuted
although the identities of the perpetrators are well known to the
Rustavi police.  This latest case adds weight to the application filed
on June 29, 2001 by Jehovah's Witnesses in the European Court of Human
Rights over lack of action by the police, Prosecutorís Office, and
Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia.

Georgia contact: 
Telephone: +995 32 76 23 59  
Facsimile: +995 32 76 95 98
Paul Gillies,  mobile telephone:  + 44 7775 833880

Video footage of violent mob attacks available to the media upon

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