“We continue witnessing brazen violations of human rights in Georgia’s regions occupied by the Russian Federation, as well as in Ukraine, where the Russian Federation has illegally occupied and annexed the territories of a sovereign country in blatant violation of fundamental norms and principles of international law”, Davit Zalkaliani, the nominee Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, delivered a speech at the 46th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council.
According to the Minister, destructive actions of the occupying force prevent the efforts of the Georgian government to assist its citizens living on the other side of the occupation line. He noted that despite the pandemic, Georgia is a daily target of Russia’s intensified hybrid war.
“Each year, the Human Rights Council adopts the important thematic and country-specific resolutions, including the annual Resolution on Cooperation with Georgia, focusing on the situation in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia. Regrettably, despite the direct calls of the resolution and repeated efforts of the High Commissioner, the Office has not been able to enter Russia-occupied Georgian regions. This takes place against the backdrop of continuously deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situations on the ground, where the fundamental rights of ethnic Georgians being violated on a daily basis, including during pandemics. Continuous installation of razor-wire fences and other artificial obstacles along the occupation line and adjacent areas, as well as unprecedentedly lengthy closure of the so-called crossing points and restriction of freedom of movement, including denial of medical evacuations that often leads to fatal cases, have extremally aggravated the humanitarian situation. Such destructive actions of the occupying power continue to prevent the efforts of the Government of Georgia to assist its citizens living on the other side of the occupation line during the COVID-19. Moreover, amid the pandemic, my country has been hit by Russia’s intensified hybrid warfare on daily basis through disinformation and large scale cyber-attacks, including propaganda about the Richard Lugar Laboratory Center for Public Health Research, which has been important in Georgia’s fight against the pandemic”, Davit Zalkaliani said.
The Minister mentioned the unlawful detention of Georgian citizen Zaza Gakheladze. According to him, Gakheladze’s arrest is a clear example of how the occupation forces manipulate people’s lives.
“The case of a Georgian citizen Zaza Gakheladze, who was shot, wounded, and illegally detained by the Russian occupation forces in last July, is a clear example of how the occupation forces manipulate people’s lives. The recent provocative decision of the occupation regime to prolong his illegal detention for more than 12 years is outrageous. This is a matter that requires immediate involvement of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the President of the Council. Despite repeated calls, literally, nothing has been done with respect to the execution of justice in the brutal cases of deprivation of life of Georgian citizens in the Russian-occupied regions, which has fueled the sense of impunity and led to father cases of torture and deprivation of lives. Perpetrators must be held accountable! In this regard, I would like to reiterate once again the importance of the Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili List, which envisages imposing restrictive measures on the individuals responsible for human rights abuses in the occupied regions as a preventive mechanism, and I count on your support in this matter!
Unfortunately, IDPs and refugees who were expelled by the Russian Federation as a result of multiple waves of ethnic cleansing from Georgia’s occupied regions are still unable to return home. Russia’s destructive actions threaten the remaining population with another wave of forceful displacement. We fully concur with the Secretary-General’s repeated call that the absence of a political solution cannot and should not be an obstacle to the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of those lacking the minimal safeguards and living under the imminent threat of expulsion. therefore, a resolute stance of the international community is essential. With this in mind we retable the draft resolution on Cooperation with Georgia during the current session and counting on your support. The recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Georgia v. Russia unequivocally confirmed Russia’s occupation and effective control over the Georgian indivisible regions, and Russia’s responsibility for human rights violations on the ground during the August 2008 Russia-Georgia war and the subsequent period of occupation. We call on Russia once again to cease violation of human rights in the occupied regions of Georgia, to respect Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and to fulfill its international obligations under the EU-mediated 12 August 2008 ceasefire agreement”, Davit Zalkaliani stated.