Where donors' money is spent - social activists creating artificial problems?
05 April, 2017
Where donors' money is spent - social activists creating artificial problems?
It is necessary to protect the labor rights and we all want the situation to improve in our country in this regard. However, by the campaigns based on lies, the very idea is being discredited.

Recently, several youth organizations have become surprisingly energetic and violent in fighting against those who ‘violate labor rights’ of ordinary people. You may remember how Auditorium 115 members invaded the building of Georgian Public Broadcaster and then one of the Biblus Gallery bookstores, only to be ousted by those whose rights they were intending to ‘protect’.

Almost simultaneously, a video-address was spread, where two former and four acting employees of Biblus Gallery talked about how their labor rights were violated and how some of their friends were illegally fired from work. However, a few hours later it became clear that what they were saying was absolutely untrue, something they later admitted themselves.

But a few days later another detail became clear: it was an organization called Auditorium 115 who was behind these violent acts, as well as the mentioned video address. Besides, they were supported by a non-governmental organization called EMC.

The question that is logically heard is what connection can be between a visibly serious non-governmental organization and a group of students, who use Bolshevik-style slogans and radical methods (that was exactly the way they acted when they invaded a Biblus Gallery bookstore) and does not even shy away from such an illegal behavior as counterfeiting the legal documents?

Before you begin to argue about the main interests of a non-governmental organization, you have to look into the grants they receive. During the last 2-3 years, EMC has collected more than a million US dollars from foreign donors. One of the main directions of this organization is protection of labor rights. Our attention was attracted by the project called ‘Strengthening young social activists and the workers in industrial zones in order to protect labor rights and environment’.

The interesting fact is that the project was funded in 2015 and if we look closely, we may find some sort of a ‘prophecy’ as far as ‘strengthening the students’ is concerned. The activities of Auditorium 115 began from 2016 and its first target was educational reform (they were blocking the 6th building of TSU for several months) and then they switched to the protection of labor rights (protests in front of Azoti factory, Public
Broadcaster, Fresco supermarket, Biblus).

Those who know how non-governmental organizations work, will tell you that in order to receive a new grant, you first have to prove that the previous one was fully completed.

The question is what does ‘strengthening student groups ’mean? Does the non-governmental organization strengthen these groups or it just observes how these groups are becoming stronger by themselves?

The donor of the abovementioned project is Heinrich Boll foundation and its representatives say EMC only makes a research on Auditorium 115 activities.

Tiko Antidze, a representative of Heinrich Boll foundation: Our project envisages carrying out researches on social activities and it does not mean that EMC has to cooperate with Auditorium 115.

However, Heinrich Boll foundation will be surprised to learn that a representative of EMC has already admitted the fact of cooperation between them and Auditorium 115. More specifically, the Social Programs Director of EMC, Lina Gvinianidze told us that Auditorium 115’s fields of activities coincide with those of EMC. ‘That is why we often act as partners’, - Gvinianidze claims.

As for radical steps, Gvinianidze says Auditorium 115 has its own strategy and cooperating does not necessarily mean acting in the same way.

Gvinianidze also said that there are other organizations whose principles coincide with those of EMC and they try to support all of them.

‘Apart from Auditorium 115, we also have contacts with ‘Tbilisi Solidarity Network’, ‘Women’s Look’, ‘Green Fist’, ‘Young Greens’, ‘White Noise’, - Gvinianidze said.

By the way, ‘Tbilisi Solidarity Network’ is the organization, whose members visit various workplaces and try to make the employees say that their rights are violated, then they film everything and send tapes to Auditorium 115. Apart from that, one of the members of Auditorium 115 is the founder of Tbilisi Solidarity Network.

We have no proof that these contacts are fed by some financial interests, however, it is obvious that since the beginning of cooperation between Auditorium 115 and EMC, the student groups have become stronger.
Let us look at this situation through the eyes of foreign donors: There are various kinds of labor rights protests in a particular country, the groups of young people act in a radical way and there are incidents between the employees and their employers. This situation needs to be fixed.

But, we think that those foreign donors need to be interested in the sources of these protests and whether the interested sides try to create these difficult situations artificially in order to receive money.

We would like to emphasize that it is necessary to protect the labor rights and we all want the situation to improve in our country in this regard. However, by the abovementioned actions and campaigns based on lies, the very idea is being discredited.

P.S. Firefighting is one of the noblest professions, but let us imagine that someone first gives matches to kids in order for them to set fire somewhere and then plays the role of a fireman in order to receive financial benefits.

One day, the fire is going to become uncontrollable for the culprit.

By Rusudan Shelia, Nana Mghebrishvili for Kviris Palitra newspaper
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