Bloodshed in the Caucasus

Violations of Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in the Georgia-South Ossetia Conflict

Tensions between Georgians and Ossetians began in late 1989 and by 1991 took the form of armed conflict between South Ossetian and Georgian paramilitary groups. At the root of the conflict is South Ossetia's desire to separate from Georgia and be part of Russia. Throughout 1991 Helsinki Watch received alarming reports about human rights violations in the violent conflict. The armed conflict in South Ossetia included the shelling (by both sides) of both Georgian and Ossetian villages, blockades, and hostage taking, claiming at least 250 lives and wounding at least 485 people. This report documents violations of the laws of war and human rights abuses committed during the conflict, following the introduction of the Georgian militia into Tskhinvali in January 1991.

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