DRI: Authorities have an obligation to tolerate peaceful protest
On March 7, 2022, as the war in Ukraine entered its eleventh day, activists protesting against the Russian militaristic policy were arrested in Tbilisi, near the building of the Georgian Government. Initially, the rally was held in front of the Parliament and protesters demanded "to impose a visa regime with Russia", "to ban the Russian media" and "to close the sky for Russia!" After that, protesters moved to the territory near the building of the Georgian Government and brought Russian products to protest against the pro-Russian policy of the Government.
According to the protesters, some individuals were detained without any legal grounds, which can be seen in the footage released by them. According to the information obtained by the Democracy Research Institute from various sources, the arrest of the protesters preceded the throwing of flour at police officers. Consequently, the argument that the actions of the rally organizers went beyond freedom of expression is unfounded. The Democracy Research Institute has repeatedly stated that it is illegal to detain non-violent protesters with the use of increased police forces and violent methods. It is also alarming that Georgia is the third country, following Russia and Belarus, where protesters showing support to Ukraine and protesting against Russia's aggressive policy have been arrested.
We believe that the police use sharply repressive force against individual civic groups; We call on the Government and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to renounce violence and aggression.