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Georgia: Bush Should Urge Inquiry Into November Crackdown

President George W. Bush should urge a full investigation into the November 2007 violent crackdown in Georgia during his meeting in Washington tomorrow with President Mikheil Saakashvili, Human Rights Watch said today.

“There still hasn’t been a comprehensive investigation into the use of force on November 7,” said Holly Cartner, Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia director. “No ally of Georgia is in a better position than the US to pursue this with the Georgian government.”

On November 7, 2007, riot police used excessive force to disperse the largely peaceful demonstrations in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. Law enforcement personnel, many of them masked, pursued fleeing demonstrators of all ages, kicking and punching them, and striking them with wooden truncheons, wooden poles, and other objects. They appeared to fire rubber bullets indiscriminately and directly at fleeing demonstrators. Heavily armed police and security personnel stormed a private television station, Imedi, threatening and ejecting the staff, as well as damaging and destroying much of the station’s equipment, forcing the station off the air for almost a month.

In a letter to President Bush last week, Human Rights Watch emphasized that the Georgian government took a number of important steps to diffuse the political crisis since November 7, 2007, but that a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the use of force is still lacking.

“The United States has invested tremendous political and financial capital in promoting democracy in Georgia,” said Cartner. “It should promote justice in Georgia today as vigorously as it has championed Georgia’s democracy in the past.”

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