MILITARY
Georgian Heroes
15 March, 2012

Dubious handling of the facts of Georgian soldier deaths by the State

Ruslan Meladze, Paata Kacharava and Valiko Beraia – What do these names mean to you? They died for Georgia in Afghanistan few days ago. The boys fulfilled their duties to the homeland sacrificing their lives. The Authorities though muffled these tragic facts and buried bodies of the killed heroes furtively, just like the other 12 soldiers who died before. 

 

The way the State handles fatalities among the Georgian soldiers stationed

in Afghanistan is incomprehensible. Reminiscent of Soviet tactics employed during their infamous Afghan invasion, the transportation of bodies of Georgian soldiers in zinc coffins back to Georgia occurs in the similar confidential way. And likewise, the families of the soldiers are ordered to keep everything in secret.

Nikola Sarkozy arranged a royal burial of French soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan. Still earlier, Silvio Berlusconi raised alert saying that war against terrorism is necessary but life of every Italian soldier is more important.

Any attempt to get in touch with mothers of the killed soldiers, always ends in failure. I say to them: “We’d like to meet you because we want to tell the country about your son. He was a hero.” However, the silence sets in on the other side of the line followed by murmur of the weeping women: “Yes, he was a hero but I beg you, let me alone. My sorrow is overwhelming.” Italy, France, Germany and the UK proclaim national days of sorrow connected with the burial ceremonies. All flags are lowered in every country in respect to the heroes. The first statesman of America not only attends the burial ceremonies but visits the graves of the heroes frequently.

So, what happened to us? Instead of holding public solemn ceremonies for our brave sons, we are disallowed to shed tears on their graves, we bury them clandestinely.

At the end of September 2010, the number of Georgian soldiers killed in Afghanistan reached five. I tried to contact their comrades in arms, then with their family members. But everything was in vein. The Ministry of Defense seems to have prohibited the servicemen any contacts with the press. It was around this time when an American soldier Bill Roul placed a photo on his facebook page depicting him and the late Georgian soldier Davit Tsetskhladze together. The American was openly expressing pride in his friendship with the Georgian combatant(!).

Bill Roul gladly agreed to talk about Dato. At the end of our talk he remarked shyly that Georgians would certainly tell more about Dato because he used to know him for a short time. How could I tell him that the story of Davit Tsetskhladze and others are kept confidential in Georgia?

After learning the biography of Senior Lieutenant Mukhran Shukvani, the head of third squadron of 31st battalion of the third brigade who was the first casualty of the Georgian forces stationed in Afghanistan (killed on 5 September 2010 in Helmand province), German Ambassador to Georgia Patricia Flor went to Mestia to meet with the Shukvani family and handed them the gift of the Georgian Patriarch – hand bracelet noting that the bracelet should be worn by the Shukvani’s mother, for raising such a son. Mukhran’s name is connected with Afghanistan forever. The military base where Shukvani used to serve bears his name now. After all, the last way of the killed Georgian soldiers back to their homeland is still covered by  the blanket of secrecy and resembles a special operation, despite the interest of Georgian public to know more about their heroes and why bid we farewell to them under such secrecy.

Here is the list of Georgian soldiers who died while serving in the Georgian peacekeeping forces: Giorgi Avaliani, Revaz Beridze, Ramaz Gogiashvili, Gia Goguadze, Zurab Gvenetadze, Valeri Verskiani, Lavros Ivaniadze, Nugzar Kalandadze, Giorgi Kolokhitashvili, Giorgi Margiev, Mukhran Shukvani, Davit Tsetskhladze, Ruslan Meladze, Paata Kacharava and Valiko Beraia.

General Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor: “The Afghan war became very protracted and cost dearly to the United States in terms of both human losses and economically. We are tired. More than 2000 American soldiers lost their lives. Further 15 000 received various injuries during the military operations.”

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