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IDPs on Hunger Strike to Protest Eviction
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 26 Aug.'10 / 16:56

Seven internally displaced persons are on hunger strike with four of them have sewn mouths shut in protest against thier eviction from the state-owned building in the Isani district of Tbilisi two weeks ago.

Six women and one men, who fled war in Abkhazia in early 90s, are protesting outside the building of Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees.

Like many other IDPs, who have been evicted by the police from several state-owned buildings in Tbilisi in recent weeks, the hunger strikers are also demanding for a dwelling in any part of the capital city, where they have been living for many years already.

Hunger strikers said no one from the ministry had contacted them yet. Ministry officials were not available for the comment.

In July and August police evicted hundreds of IDPs from several state-owned buildings in Tbilisi. How it has been done was criticized by the Georgian Pubic Defender and UN refugee agency.

The eviction has also triggered series of protest rallies in Tbilisi by a group of IDPs. The most recent such rally was held outside the Tbilisi City Council on Freedom Square on August 26 and like previous ones it was again organized by opposition Conservative Party and Party of People. Unlike the previous such rally on August 20, when it grew into scuffle between the protesters and the police, the recent one ended peacefully without any incidents. Protesters said they would reconvene again on August 27 at the same venue when the Tbilisi City Council session plans to discuss the issue.

The authorities have offered evicted IDPs to resettle in the village of Potskoetseri of Tsalenjikha district, not far from the Abkhaz administrative border. But IDPs are reluctant to accept this alternative dwelling in the rural area, citing no job opportunities there.

The Public Defender's Office said that that although building, which was offered as an alternative housing for IDPs in the village, where about dozen of families have already moved, was rehabilitated, it was not supplied with gas and electricity.

Internally displaced persons there "are living under harsh social conditions. They do not have food products, medications, household items of primary consumption, and furniture," the Public Defender's Office said on August 20.

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