The event in the village of Pervomaiskoye, Abash district, November 16, 2018 – Samegrelo region (Mengrelia)
The second event took place on November 16, 2018 in the village of Pervomaiskoje in the district Abash within the region of Samegrelo (Mengrelien). This region was chosen because it adjoins occupied Abkhazia and especially the occupied Gali region. Many refugees from occupied Abkhazia live in this region; it was therefore very interesting to hear their opinions and find out about how they live and what problems they face.
The event was attended by 29 participants – students, teachers and other academics, administrators, displaced persons, etc. In short, the whole spectrum of the population of the region was present. The participants expressed great interest, especially because the opportunity to take part in such an event had never occurred before. They asked the organizers many questions and current problems were discussed.
In the Samegrelo region there is free access to the internet and a very good mobile network. Unfortunately, there are very few bloggers in this region. Participants expressed the desire to try to become bloggers themselves, who would reflect public opinion. Locally, there are regional media outlets, independent associations, and youth clubs – but only a few. Typical problems in this region are similar to those in all of Georgia: the problem of employment, the problem of recreational activities of young people and access to education (the education fees are very high). Serious human rights violations were not named. Participants stated that they can talk freely about these issues and contact local authorities to resolve these issues. Freedom of expression in the region is guaranteed.
These problems are compounded by the problems of internally displaced people (refugees), as already mentioned, many of them are in this region. They have problems with housing, employment and education. It was also said that the state is trying to solve the housing problem, but so far this problem has not been fully resolved. Residents of the occupied Gali region, who came to the event specifically, said that in occupied Abkhazia, all fundamental human rights were violated – the right to life, the right to work, the right to be taught in their mother tongue, etc. Such projects are of existential importance to them. They will work very closely with us on this project so that we can publish all the facts about human rights abuses in the occupied territories of Georgia – Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
In general, the situation in the region itself is not very different from the situation across the country, although there are certainly fewer options for socio-political participation in rural areas than in the capital. In our opinion and in the opinion of the participants, the event was very successful. Participants were given information and opportunities they did not have before. Many of them expressed the wish to participate in future projects whenever possible. They also said that this is a great help to the region. Participants noted that they had never participated in such projects before, especially since no one had ever come to their region, and they have no opportunity to participate in such projects in the capital.
The participants expressed their wish that this project be continued, and that they would receive more local knowledge. Many of the participants expressed their desire to become members of the ISHR and would like to participate in the process of protecting human rights. The event was very successful. It would be good if other regions of Georgia were visited. The participants stated that they would actively inform themselves about the human rights situation in the region and make it available. The participants thanked the organizers, the management and the German Foreign Ministry for the opportunity to attend such a seminar.
The organizers of the event were the President of the Georgian National Section of the ISHR, Avtandil Davitaia, and the regional event speakers representing the section, Giorgi Patsatsia and Giorgi Mikava.