Georgian ambassador's resignation reverberates amidst controversial French law

Georgian ambassador’s resignation reverberates amidst controversial French law

FRANCE-On May 4, 2024, in Tbilisi, protesters demonstrated against the “foreign influence” law in front of the Georgian Parliament. According to the Georgian ambassador to France, “tensions” around a law on “foreign influence” are the reason he tendered his resignation on Thursday, May 9. Some locals are upset about this document, which is an initiative of the ruling party and is referred to as the “Georgian Dream,” since they believe it goes against the ambitions of this Caucasian nation, which are European. It is based on a statute that the Kremlin utilized for years to silence dissident voices in Russia, which has also drawn criticism from outsiders. The envoy feels that his nation’s connections with its overseas allies are harmed by the tensions created by the text.

Ambassador’s Decision

Protesters have been faced with strong police tactics to disperse groups during weeks of marches against what opponents refer to as “the Russian law” legislation pushed by the ruling Georgian Dream party despite considerable opposition from most of the nation. Thugs have also targeted protestors on the loose. A spokesman for the US State Department, Matthew Miller, stated in Washington on May 9 that the US was extremely disturbed by the measures employed against the draft legislation protesters. “We are aware of an upsurge in reports of physical attacks and harassment of journalists and activists from civil society and the opposition. We denounce this and demand a thorough, impartial, and prompt inquiry,” Miller remarked. Miller stated that Georgia and Washington have had a fruitful working relationship for over 30 years and that Washington would like it to continue. “There is still time to work collaboratively with Georgia, but the Georgian government needs to change course for that to be the case,” he stated.

Reaction in Georgia

Persistent systemic racism and religious discrimination continued, targeting Muslim women and girls in particular. Racial profiling persisted unchecked. Protest limitations that were too onerous and police brutality persisted. Following the death of a 17-year-old teenager of Algerian heritage at a traffic check by police, there were widespread demonstrations and rioting. There were several reports of violent attacks and graffiti that was anti-LGBTQ, xenophobic, and racist. Parliament approved contentious new rules that imposed discriminatory limitations on immigration, nationality, and asylum as well as allowing law enforcement to utilize mass video surveillance technologies. The government was advised to “seriously address the deep issues of racism and discrimination in law enforcement” by the UN human rights office. In order to address “the structural and systemic causes of racial discrimination, including in law enforcement, in particular in the police,” the CERD Committee urged France to act.

International Response

A group of people gathered outside Abashidze’s house to demonstrate while police searched it. There were reports of an undisclosed number of arrests. Earlier, the Interior Ministry of Georgia said that an inquiry has been launched into the attack on three demonstrators, one of whom is a lawmaker in the opposition, that occurred late on May 8 at a rally against the bill in Tbilisi. The attacks on international relations expert Gia Japaridze, activist Lasha Gvinianidze, and opposition National Movement party member Dimitri Chikovani by unidentified assailants will be thoroughly investigated, Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri declared on May 9. He also declared his condemnation of “all kinds of attacks.”

Future Implications

Sulkhan Tamazashvili, the head of Tbilisi police, stated at the briefing that the six are charged with assaulting a police officer and causing damage to private property. Tens of thousands of Georgians took to the streets in Tbilisi and other towns, only to be met with brutal retaliation from riot police. Retaliation included water cannons, tear gas and chemical spray, with reports of rubber bullets being used on journalists and demonstrators. Although the government denies using rubber bullets, some demonstrators have displayed injuries that appear to have been caused by these projectiles.

Call to action: Boycott Pairs Olympics 2024

The Council of State decided that the French Football Federation may continue its discriminatory policy, which essentially forbade Muslim women and girls players who wore religious headgear from competing, despite the Public Rapporteur’s suggestion to the contrary. 69 teams demanded in October that the French Federation for Basketball lift its discriminatory restriction on female players wearing religious headwear. 

During an interview in September, the minister of sports declared that women who wear religious headgear will not be allowed to represent France in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. The OHCHR expressed disapproval of this ruling, declaring that “no one should impose on a woman what she needs to wear or not wear” and alerting people to the detrimental effects of such discriminatory actions.



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