Georgians have the right to peacefully protest without being beaten by the police, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on November 8.
“Even in a time of crisis, Georgians have a right to protest peacefully without being beaten by the police,” Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said. “Firing rubber bullets at peaceful demonstrators is a complete abuse of the use of force. The government does not have a carte blanche to restrict fundamental freedoms just because it is in crisis.”
Human Rights Watch reported that one of its representatives witnessed riot police chasing and beating fleeing protestors as they sought shelter in the yard of a nearby church and adjoining streets. The protestors offered no resistance and called on each other not to resist in order not to provoke even harsher retaliation from the police.
“Beating journalists or shutting down television stations for reporting on the events can’t be justified by subsequently declaring a state of emergency,” Cartner said. Her comments come in the wake of recent developments in Georgia, in which a state of emergency was declared on November 7 following clashes between demonstrators and police and the closure of two TV stations.