“It was a genocide of Georgians. They were beating the constrained citizens, when it was no need to do so, because nobody opposing them. Even the fascists did not act so brutally. Nobody, who bear even a sign of a man, could do it. But, they were not men, they were just wilds and vampires thirsting a human blood” – says our colleague Beka Sivsivadze, a journalist from the “Asaval Dasavali Newspaper” when talking about that events of 26th May night. Beka and its colleague, journalist Giorgi Mamatsashvili personally presented there in front of the Parliament building, observing the action brake up process, they personally experienced the resin bullets, truncheons, the unjust methods of the State Power applied against the action participants.
- On May 25, I was there and, beginning from midday, tried to fix all important details. On evening, by friend Giorgi joined me.
When the first attack started from the side of the 1st Gymnasium, they used the water stream and the choking gas. We moved to the “Liberty Square” Metro Station were another group of the “special troops” was mobilized. All exits were blocked by them. We occurred fully encircled, with no chance to leave the territory. We showed them the press-cards and told them we were journalists and wanted to cross the square and continue our job. But, on our words “we are journalists” they answered with shooting. I felt how 10 or 15 resin bullets injured me. There exists a confirming video-material of this, shot by “TV-25”. Later on, I counted 37 places on my body where the bullets reached
- The TV channels announced that the special troops were not creating barriers to journalists to perform their job
-, What? They shot us just in place. I m sure, If they have the fire-guns they could freely kill us with no pardon
-, Today the Year 1937 is in Georgia and, Saakashvili’s “special band” shot 37 bullets, to me. I told once and, I’ll repeat it once again – in fact, they shot us! When after the first volley the situation certainly calmed down and I managed to reach to the Metro station, we told the patrol police officers that we were journalists and wanted to continue our work from a safe place, but they barred the way and ordered to go back. At that moment the special troops approached from the back side. What happened then, I do not remember, because I lost a mind for several minutes. When the mind restored, I found myself fallen down in a rain water, with handcuffs. They “tried” to apply the “democratic” plastic handcuffs but they are much painful and terrible than the ordinary, metal one.
I looked around and glanced my friend Giorgi Mamatsashvili on the right side from me, he tried to explain to the special troop officer to release my hands because I was journalist. I managed to move to their direction and on my way, I saw the people horribly tortured and beaten, some of them had no sign that they were still alive. God bless Nika Kvintradze and his father’s souls. A terrible tragedy happened. They were not personally known to me, maybe they were among those who were so severely beaten by special troop?
Then someone came to us, maybe on of their heads, took our documents and started to investigate whether we really were journalists. At the same time they continued to beat the restrained people on the square, by hands, feet; one soldier, than – another, with threatening: “are you going to appear on such demonstrations again? Do you want to protest against what happen in our country? Will you stay again with Burjanadze?
They acted so against everyone. When they revealed we were the journalists from “Asaval Dasavali”, they demonstrated a special aggression against us and started beating us mercilessly.
We were lied don on the ground, in a rain water. “who are journalists among you? they asked and, hoping that the end of such horror comes and answering “we” they were beating. Both me and Giorgi have concussion of the brain. I do not know how long this brothers-killing minutes lasted. Later on that officer came back who took our documents together with 18-19 years-old boy from the special troops took us to the yellow bus, saying: It revealed that you are not journalists, we’ll wound, and injure you. Fortunately, Mikheil Saakashvili’s personal photographer Irakli Gedenidze met us on the way and confirmed that we really were journalists. After this, they decided to release us. We asked them to release our hands and accompany us to reach a safe place, but they cynically answered: “do you want us to accompany to your house”?
In this situation we managed to reach Sololaki and find a shelf to one of our friend’s house.
This was the Bartholomew Night organized by “Mokheil Rodionov” A typical modern Concentration Camp where people are beaten to death. Today, when announcing that they found a dead body somewhere, I guess the special troops made it and then took to such bodies on other places.
“An elder man hardly breathed nearby me. Perhaps, he had an epileptic attack. Excuse me, but kicked off, asked hardly for water. A applied to the special troops let him get water, you see the man may die. But, they answered with beating me with truncheon, saying that it was not my business and, If I repeat it again, they would kill me together with him. OK, If they did so with me because I was so active, then why were they so brutal to others, crying: “Do you want to take part in such meetings? Don’t you like Saakashvili’s policy?” I think that man dead
They get one young man with broken head and through him near Beka. There was a big wound on his head. These to moments were the most terrible that I remembedr fropm that events. Sometimes I felt “Switched-off” and don’t remember anything. Recently the TV-25” channel provided us with the video-tapes of what was happening. I would like to say express my special thanks to leaders of this TV Channel and of course, to that reporter who turned to be so pride and shot everything regardless the danger he was facing with. Now, when seeing these cadres of injured people lied down in rows, I feel very tensioned inside. God knows how many of them survived. After 4-5 series beating, an officer from the special troops, maybe with some signs of humanity preserved, came and announced loudly “if journalists are here, follow me! regardless the fact hat the others from the Special troops saw how the officer accompanied us to leave the territory, they were beating us. It was the punitive operation against the Georgian Nation! It was a genocide of Georgians!
-, It was an punishment of exemplary nature. They did it specially not to switch-off the live TV broadcast in order to show to all others in Georgia how Saakashvili’s criminal police acts against those who opposes their policy. The thick and self-satisfied Shota Utiashvili appeared and announced that nobody was injured by the resin bullets!? Maybe he lives not in Georgia but on another plane, far from a reality. I want to say him: come to my place, see the signs of bullets on my and Giorgi’s bodies and then repeat publicly your words!
During the whole day the information was spreading that doctors were giving dozens of sedatives to Saakashvili. The Saakashvili’s “slaves” assured him that the parade should anyway be held in front of the Parliament. it was Saakashvili’s personal desire to break up the meeting by such methods. As to the ordr of breaking up the action, it comes from the US Ambassador John Bass, to whom Saakashvili subordinates directly. Many politicians say that Misha receives instructions directly from John Bass. Saakashvili is a man who can move over the Georgian people by tractor! There were no tractors there, but the special troops factually moved over the people like tractors could do it.
Giorgi Mamatsashvili: We’ll follow this case to its end. I apply to all international organizations, international federations of journalists, its our strong wish to fight until all the offenders who shot the Georgian Nation in that night of May 26th, rwill have been punished.
- Did the TV reporters express their solidarity and collegial attitude towards you in that moment or later on?
- We, the journalists working for different newspapers and TVs, maintain normal relations. They could just call by phone and ask how we are, could support us morally, but much of them did not do it.
- Its true, a reporter may shoot an event but it may be not broadcasted if his/her head officer orders so. But, you, the journalists, could just become interested in our health state, all of you could do this. Why are you so fear? Because your phone conversations are controlled? Do not you have some other possibility to share our pains? For their shame, they failed
- The State power actively insists to assure us Georgia is far ahead of others by rates of the democracy and the freedom of speech. With taking into account the current developments in our country, what can you say in this regards?
- There is a freedom of speech in Georgia, since I can say what I want, but, another thing is how then I’ll become answerable on my words. In case of Beka, they shot him with 37 resin bullets, I – with up to 17 bullets, plus both beaten by truncheons. This is a real answer of the State power to the freedom of speech, for our viewpoints we had yesterday, a day before yesterday and, have even today!
- The spread opinion that Mikheil Saakashvili does not read the newspapers, is a falsehood. He reads word-by-word, paragraph-by-paragraph everything printed in “Asaval-Dasavali”, “Georgia and the World” and some other publications where even a small spark of true and justice still lights. A can even say that this was violence against “Asaval-Dasavali”.
- What do you think, did the international organizations analyze and assess duly the event? All men experienced hat terror and souls of those killed there in that day, calls for execution of justice. .
- Not only the souls of those killed on May 26, but the souls of Irina Enukidze, Sandro Gvirgvliani, Vazagashvili, Robakuidze . . . call for justice and, early or late, this day will come!
Several “bribed-by-government” NGOs made the anti-Nation statements. However, we saw also a sharp critics and severe announcements by the EU, made towards the government because of these events. I am sure, when they will be provided by numerous video-materials of what happened in that night, their reactions and assessments will become more severe and sharper
- I would like to answer shortly: The Down comes and, the Sun will soon rise.
Darejan Paatashvili (Interpressnews):
One of those from special troops clipped his hand strongly and, I felt I was missing the mind
-, After breaking up the Action, I turned into the “Courtyard Marriot” Hotel, shooting with my camera how the special troop gathered the people with handcuffs in the yellow buses. There were other captured with bloody heads, too, standing in a row in front of the hotel. I could not imagine that all these was taking place in my country. Perhaps, I stayed there for a long time and, they noticed me: One from the special troops run to me with crying what I wanted there. I showed him my waistcoat and BG, but he took it and wanted to take my camera too. . All ended after a man from the special troops clipped his hand strongly around me and, I felt I was missing the mind
They take my camera. Then someone cried them – she is a woman what are you doing? but, a new holder of my camera answered not so gently, If woman let her ho away home. No fear, no pain? the only thing I felt, was a shame for the Georgian special troops’ attitude to the people.
Tazo Kupreishvili (Netnewspaper):
The special troop run to be with abuse and started beating by truncheons
-, I was standing at the corner of the Students and Youth Palace together with other journalists of “Netnewspaper” and shooting with my camera the special troops approaching to Rustaveli avenue from Chitadze street. At that moment another group of special troops appeared from the side of the Kashueti Church and, I swas forced to change my place and go to the Liberty Square. I was shooting them with my camera, at the same time. I had the photo apparatus with me, too. In order to protect myself against the resin bullets, I hide my face under the waistcoat. A distance from these two groups of special forces was shortening gradually, there was a terrible smoke, no exit where one could run. I started crying that I am a journalist and let me go away, but some of them run to me with abuse sand started beating in hands, feet, back, wanted to take my photo-apparatus. I was continuing to cry that I was journalist. At that moment a patrol police officer appeared, who ordered them to terminate beating me and took me away from the territory. When passing through the rows of special troops. some kicked me the truncheons in my head. I first found a shelf in “Marriot” hotel and then – in “Populi” Supermarket.
Malkhaz Tchkadua (“Interpressnews”)
A man from Special troops snatched out my press-card and threw it away
-, After breaking up the meeting, we, a group of journalists first gathered at Purtseladze street, then – moved to Tabukashvili street. Some of us from different agencies were attempting to reach to Rustaveli avenue, but the police officers blocked the way to all of us. We could see the people damaged by the water stream and the choking gas. One madam was crying that they have beaten mercilessly her 20-year old son and then took him in a car.
I changed the place and moved to Lagidze street together with the journalists from “Expressnews” and operator from Palitra TV”. We saw the Special Troops members standing nears the “Tbilisi Marriot” Hotel. We were just observing the situation, without shooting anything. Suddenly, such a shoot has broken out that it was clear they were shooting the resin bullets to our direction.
We started crying that we were the representatives of the press, but with no result. They were running towards us and, we were forced to save ourselves by running away to Tabukashvili street. At the end of the street turn, we ran down to stairs and occurred in a narrow street. Just at that moment they cutch us and arrested with beating the truncheon in my back, with abusing, crying: “You, a slave of Burjanadze” I tried to explain that I was a journalist and, before putting the handcuffs showed them my press-card, but they threw it away. Then they took us in Tbilisi Police Administration.
There were some other men attested, declaring that they were not the meeting participants and just were returning back from the party. Among them were father and his son. The latter stated that he was by car and that’s why did not drink, while the others,m were drunk, it was clear. A bit later, the police took one more arrested man, who told them his two sons of 18 and 20 years of age gone at the meeting without his permission and he just wanted to find them. Later on, one more arrested man of middle-age was taken who was so severely beaten that all his head and face was in the blood
I cannot forget a churchman who came to us when we were standing on Tabukashvili street, and asked the Special Troops members to allow him take us with him, but they refused his request. “If so, then take me with them”, he told them but with no result. Finally, he could just observed from a distance the events developed there.
Many colleagues phoned me and written messages My thanks to all for their support. At the same day of my arrest I heard that the special troops arrested many journalists and caused them physical and moral abuse. I do not want that the Independence Day be met by Georgians with the Rustaveli avenue in the blood and expectations of a next revolution. If I remember correctly, Mamardashvili wrote: If Georgians fail to learn on their own mistakes, the hell will be repeated permanently
Prepared by Teo Tabatadze
From the Editorial Board of “Georgia and the World”:
“Asaval-Dasavali”, an independent and impartial chronicler of the newest history of Georgia, plays an important role in the social life, and, first of all, through the clever, talented, patriotic creative group of professionals, protecting the values gained by the Georgian civil society on its difficult way of independence. Respectively, any violence directed to the newspaper should be assessed as an obvious attempt of final reviving a censure in Georgia
“Georgia and the World” expresses their Categorical protest against the act of unprecedented cruel violence committed by the state power towards the journalists of an independent and impartial newspaper “Asaval-Dasavali” Giorgi Mamatsashvili and Beka Sivsivadze, as well as towards the other representatives of the massmedia and, assesses this act as a pressure on the freedom of speech and a despotic aggression on the free massmedia sources, having no analogue
“Georgia and the World” expresses solidarity and support to the editor-in-chief Mr. Lasha Nadareishvili and the whole staff of “Asaval-Dasavali”, especially to the victims of the violence – journalists Giorgi Mamatsashvili and Beka Sivsivadze
Taking into consideration the fact an extremely low rate of confidence the Georgian civil society has towards the state power and, as an interesting party in an just and objective investigation to the facts of the violence of similar nature, “Georgia and the World” applies to the international human right protecting organizations and the diplomatic corps accredited in Georgia with a principal request, to do all their best in promoting to a due and an impartial investigation of the aforementioned facts as well as the violence committed against the representatives of other massmedia sources, in order to reveal and punish the offenders according to the law.