Thomas Hammarberg, the EU's special adviser for legal and constitutional reform and human rights in Georgia, has appealed to the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, to use his influence to restore respect for law and order on the Tbilisi streets after violent scenes following thwarted rally against homophobia.
“I am informed that the demonstration today in Tbilisi very tragically ended in violence with individuals being injured. I am also informed that there is still unrest in the street and a risk of still further violence,” Hammarberg said.
“In this crisis situation, I believe an urgent public statement by yourself, your Holiness, asking demonstrators to disperse and return to their homes would be a decisive contribution to re-establish law and order,” he added.
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EU ambassador to Georgia, Philip Dimitrov, said while commenting on the May 17 developments in Tbilisi: “You well know we consider the freedom of expression of every human being of paramount importance. This is exactly what Lady Ashton says today in her statement on the Day against Homophobia.”
“Naturally I am disappointed that this right of expression was violently blocked today by counter demonstrators. The people who blocked the streets evidently do not understand that no one demands from them to like or follow one type of behavior or another. In the nowadays standards of civilization however it is normal not to stop anyone from expressing themselves the way they are,” Ambassador Dimitrov said.
“What is not normal is violence and brutality against people who feel different. Georgia has committed itself to these standards and to this understanding of normalcy and it is a shame to be unable to follow its commitments,” he added.