Netherlands authorities: 'Georgia is safe for Zviadists'
On the 26th of June 1997 the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign
Affairs has published its report on the situation in Georgia.
This report is used by the juridical authorities to judge the
cases of Georgian asylumseekers in the Netherlands.
The complete report from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign
Affairs about Georgia is 29 pages. Here is a translation of the
part of the report that speaks about 'Zviadists'.
(beginning of translation...)
2.2.3. Political rights
22.214.171.124. Freedom of political participation; supporters and
family-members of Gamsakhurdia.
After Gamsakhurdia was driven out of Tbilisi in January 1992,
unrest among his supporters increased. Especially in Mingrelia,
Gamsakhurdia's homebase in western Georgia, the support for
Gamsakhurdia was great. Gamsakhurdia wanted to continue the
struggle against the new Georgian regime 'by all means'. Also in
Tbilisi and western Georgia demonstrations took place in support
of the dismissed president. Until the turn of the year 1993/1994
(the death of Gamsakhurdia) there have been periods of fierce
armed struggle between supporters of Gamsakhurdia (also named
Zviadists, after Gamsakhurdia's first name Zviad) and pro-
government troops. Especially in the autumn of 1993 this was the
case. At the end of 1993 the pro-Gamsakhurdia troops had to be
worsted. (In the autumn of 1993 the Zviadists advanced upon close
to Tbilisi. Shevardnadze felt obliged to ask the assistance of
the Russians. With this help the Zviadists could be defeated. As
a result Shevardnadze was more or less forced by Moscow to enter
the CIS. Reluctantly this entrance then took place, after which
Russia promised its help in the Abkhazian conflict).
The supporters of the late Gamsakhurdia are subdivided in various
factions. A number of factions does not recognize the present
Georgian regime, and for that reason does not ask for permission,
which is generally demanded, to organize demonstrations. When
these demonstrations nevertheless are held (outside one of the
four areas that have been assigned for this by the Georgian
authorities) then there is a chance that the police disperses the
demonstration, in which sometimes physical violence is used.
(This for instance happened on the 26th of May 1996, the day on
which Georgia celebrates its independence, acquired in 1918).
In general arrested persons are released again the same day. The
attitude of the police towards Zviadists can differ from
demonstration to demonstration. Sometimes a demonstration is
harshly dispersed, sometimes the police does not react at all.
In June 1996 Zviadists organised a "sit-in" during 30 days,
against which the police did not take action. Also from the side
of the population there was hardly any attention for this action.
Apart from that the number of (active) supporters of Gamsakhurdia
seems to decrease visibly.
All publications connected to Gamsakhurdia are freely available.
Also they (Zviadists) can freely organize press conferences.
Also during the parliamentary elections it was obvious that the
supporters of the late Gamsakhurdia were subdivided in various
factions. The elections were boycotted by the Round Table, but
two pro-Gamsakhurdia blocs took part, namely '21st Century',
which just did not gain the required 5% and 'Zviad's Way' which
also did not reach the quota. (The first candidate of the bloc
'21st Century' has stated that from the tentative results that
were reported by the election committee has been evident that
this bloc had got 12,5% of the votes, but that Shevardnadze after
his returnal from abroad on the 7th of November 1995 had ordered
that this percentage in the statistics should be brought down to
as little as reasonably possible, so that in the published final
results '21st Century" just would not have gained the required
quota. This version cannot be confirmed, also not after inquiry
at various local and international organisations).
That it is possible for a high-ranking Zviadist to have a leading
position in the Georgian society today is shown for example by
Tamas Gugushvili. Under Gamsakhurdia he was the Minister of
Employment and Social Affairs, and at present he is vice-minister
of the Ministry for Refugees and Accomodation.
The supporters of Gamsakhurdia are not confronted with political
prosecution, but at most with criminal prosecution; this also
concerns prominent supporters of Gamsakhurdia. (In the period
between 1992 and spring 1994 the situation as different. At that
time prosecution of supporters of Gamsakhurdia could certainly
contain political elements. For instance before the elections of
1992 supporters of Gamsakhurdia were kept under remand).
There are no signs that the Georgian authorities are falsely
accusing political opponents of punishable acts to camouflage
political prosecution. (Some organisations have a different
opinion about this, like IGFM, International Helsinki Federation
for Human Rights and the signers of the letter from Finland,
dated 15th April 1997. However this concerns organisations -apart
from the IHF, which however is used as an intermediate by the
'Caucasian Research and Information Centre for Human Rights and
Conflict Studies'- which are in one way or another or partly
(seem to be) allied to (the late) Gamsakhurdia and his suppor-
ters. The conclusions which are drawn by these organisations are,
based on what is known at our Ministry and various (internatio-
nal) organisations, not supported by the facts).
At most it could be possible that the authorities do their utmost
to punish supporters of Gamsakhurdia for criminal acts in
comparison with non-Gamsakhurdia supporters, that there is a
worse access towards legal help, or one has to do with preposses-
sion of the judiciary (which cannot be confirmed from our side).
A number of very prominent supporters of Gamsakhurdia were
convicted for high treason. It concerns highplaced persons who
in 1992/93 took an active part in the struggle on the side of the
late Gamsakhurdia, and in that struggle have had a leading role.
(In that period there was also the struggle in Abkhazia and the
Georgian authorities had to divide their attention between the
forces of Gamsakhurdia and Abkhazia. They take the view that for
this reason they have lost Abkhazia, which was the motive for the
Georgian authorities to prosecute those highplaced persons for
Close relatives of Gamsakhurdia are not prosecuted by the
government. A possible exception could be the wife of the late
Gamsakhurdia. The Georgian authorities nevertheless have issued
a statement from which it should be clear that she can return to
Georgia and nothing will happen to her.
Bodyguards of the late Gamsakhurdia do not run the (higher) risk
to be prosecuted by the authorities, unless they are guilty of
(end of translation...)
The situation of 'Zviadists' in Georgia is of course completely
different. The report of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign
Affairs does not speak about torture of political prisoners to
get statements for false accusations. When this information is
given by certain human rights organisations or other organisati-
ons then they are accused of being 'Zviadists' and their
information is not concerned being reliable. On the 15th of April
1997 a number of organisations from Finland protested against the
policy of the Netherlands authorities about their policy towards
asylumseekers from Georgia. The authorities did not reply to this
protest, but now the signers are accused of being 'Zviadists'.
The new policy of the Netherlands authorities towards real
information about Georgia is accusing the authors of this
information of 'Zviadism' and because of that unreliability. At
the same time the Netherlands authorities have never protested
against the illegal coup d'état by the present regime in Georgia,
there was never any protest against the forced dismissal of the
legitimate president of Georgia, mr. Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who in
1991 democratically was elected as first president of the
independent Georgia by almost 90% of the population. In the past
the Netherlands authorities always have closed their eyes for the
real events in Georgia, they were too blind to see the bloody
terror caused by criminal gangs, they were to blind to see a
dictator coming into power with the help of these criminal gangs.
Now in their report the Netherlands authorities congratulate this
dictator, Eduard Shevardnadze, with the increasing level of
'democracy' and 'protection of human rights' in Georgia...
The situation of Georgian asylumseekers in the Netherlands is the
result of this cynicism of the policy of the Netherlands authori-
ties towards Georgia, a cynicism which results into reports as
Netherlands Helsinki Union, Den Bosch - the Netherlands
Bas van der Plas,
secretary-general Netherlands Helsinki Union.