Tbilisi-based legal advocacy group, Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) said in a statement that break up of hunger strike by the police “with use of excessive force” on January 3 amounted “to illegal restriction” of constitutionally guaranteed right of assembly.
Police dispersed a group of over dozen of veterans of Georgia’s armed conflicts, who were on hunger strike since December 27 at the memorial of Georgian fallen soldiers on Heroes’ Square in Tbilisi center. 11 people were arrested; charges involve petty hooliganism and disobedience to police orders.
“The veterans’ protest rally was in full conformity with Georgia’s law on assembly and manifestations. Although there was no intention to block traffic, organizers of the rally appealed the mayor’s office of the capital city on December 24 informing about the planned rally,” GYLA said in the statement on January 4.
It said that protesters were acting in compliance of the law and expressing protest peacefully. “Despite of that, representatives of the law enforcement agencies dispersed participants of the rally with use of physical force, accompanied by physical insult of the participants,” GYLA said, adding that it was obvious from video footage that together with patrol police, men in plain clothes were also talking part in the break up of the protest.
GYLA called on the Interior Minister and Chief Prosecutor to probe into the case and into the conduct of the law enforcement officers, as well as to raise the issue of responsibility of those officials who have took the decision to disperse the rally. GYLA said that there was no legal ground whatsoever to disperse the rally, which was held fully in line with the law.