Georgia Civic Activist Attacked Following Accusations by Speaker: Amnesty International Calls for Justice and End to Violence

Tbilisi, Georgia – A civic activist in Georgia, Zuka Berdzenishvili, was violently attacked by unknown assailants just hours after being accused on social media by the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament of involvement in a campaign of terror. Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Denis Krivosheev, expressed serious concerns about the incident, noting that government officials labeling critics as threats could be seen as a tacit approval for violence against dissenters.

Krivosheev condemned the Georgian government’s portrayal of criticism as a violent plot, emphasizing that crackdowns on dissent infringe upon human rights and international obligations. He stressed that public officials should be able to withstand scrutiny and criticism, as it is protected speech. The Deputy Director called for an end to the cycle of violence, urging thorough investigations into attacks and ensuring perpetrators face justice through fair trials.

The attack on Berdzenishvili on June 11 in Tbilisi follows the Speaker of the Parliament’s social media post linking him to an alleged organized campaign of terror against the ruling party, Georgian Dream. The government’s swift approval of controversial legislation regarding “foreign influence” has sparked backlash, leading to a surge in reports of intimidation, arrests, and violence against opposition activists. Recent incidents include suspicious individuals near opposition leader Zurab Japaridze’s home, the assault of student Niko Managadze, and the arrest of activist Ioseb Babaevi on questionable charges.

Opposition activists in Georgia have faced escalating attacks amidst protests against government policies, raising concerns about the country’s respect for freedom of association. The government’s crackdown on dissent appears to be targeting critics and stifling opposition voices, prompting calls for accountability and justice for victims of violence. Amnesty International has highlighted the need for transparency in investigations and fair treatment of individuals facing criminal charges for speaking out against government officials.