Investigation launched into assault on African students in Tbilisi
10 April, 2018
Investigation launched into assault on African students in Tbilisi
A video depicting several Georgian men insulting African boys in one of the districts of Georgia has gone viral on social media recently. The video caused negative feedback among social media users condemning violence against Africans and outraged people. The footage was made public by African student Ben Zeege, showing how Georgian men suppress African boys.

Part of the local population claims the conflict occurred after the foreigners hit one of their neighbors.

Watch the video below

According to the
Ministry of Internal Affairs, investigation is underway on the incident that occurred on Beliashvili Street in Tbilisi.

According to the statement of the Ministry, up to 20 persons have been interrogated, including both parties to the conflict.

"Investigation is ongoing into the verbal and physical confrontation between locals and foreign citizens living in Georgia under article pertaining to violence. The offense is punishable by 1-3-year imprisonment.

About 20 people have already been questioned, including both sides of the conflict. The investigation is considering a discriminatory motive as well. Legal assessment of the case may be changed only after the completion of all investigation procedures”, reads the statement.

According to the non-governmental organizations, the fact of attacking African students is extremely alarming.

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As the statement released by NGOs say, the video released on April 8 depicts racist and offensive phrases from the attackers’ side.

“This incident, along with other crimes committed on the basis of intolerance, points out to the necessity that the government should carry out a consistent and systemic anti-discrimination policy.

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It can be seen from the footage that theAfrican students were attacked at Beliashvili Street, in the vicinity of the sports arena. They were physically assaulted and verbally abused. As the students say, the motive of the violent act committed against them was their skin color. Moreover, the attackers demanded from them to leave the territory of Georgia.

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“It is especially alarming information that the law enforcers who arrived at the crime scene told the students to forget about this incident. We believe that the official negligence of police officers is a criminal offense under Article 342 of the Criminal Code and should be the subject of study of the Prosecution Service of Georgia,” reads the statement.

As the representatives of the non-governmental organizations state at this stage the investigation is launched under Article 126 of the Criminal Code (beating or other kind of violence that caused the physical pain of the victim), however, the investigation does not stress the motive of intolerant behavior based on the race.

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The current Criminal Code of Georgia considers the crimes committed with the discriminatory motives as the crimes committed in aggravating circumstances.

NGOs call on the MIA (Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia) to take adequate and timely measures in relation to the April 8 incident and punish the offenders. In addition, they demand from the ministry to properly examine the fact of the official negligence of police officers, provide appropriate instruction to the employees of the relevant service during such incidents and carry out a comprehensive policy in order to prevent hate-motivated crimes and protect the victims.

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The statement is signed by Georgia's Democratic Initiative (GDI), Georgian Reforms Association (GRASS), Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI), Media Development Foundation (MDF), Open Society - Georgia Foundation (OSGF), International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC), union “Safari,” Georgian young lawyers' association, Equality Movement, Black and Baltic Sea Alliance "Georgia", Institute for Democracy and Safety Development (IDSD), Women's Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG) and Partnership for Human Rights (PHR).

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze has proposed a friendly match to be held between the participants of the incident occurring between the residents of Beliashvili Street and African students.

Kaladze addressed President of Football Federation Levan Kobiashvili to organize such match.

"I think nobody likes what happened on Beliashvili Street. Tbilisi has always been a tolerant and open city. The investigation will find out what happened, but it was a very bad thing to watch. Such actions and attitudes are not characteristic to Georgians.



I would like to ask President of the Football Federation Levan Kobiashvili to organize a friendly match between the African students and the residents of Beliahsvili Street at the same stadium where a conflict occurred," said Kakha Kaladze.

According to the Football Federation, the friendly match will be held on April 14. As reported by Tbilisi City Hall, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze will also play in friendly match.

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