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Georgia: Protesters showed 'great courage' to object to the repressive foreign agents bill

© David Mdzinarishvili/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Security forces used water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades to disperse crowds

Responding to the news that the Parliament of Georgia has announced its intention to withdraw the repressive bills on “foreign agents” following mass protests in Tbilisi, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said: 

“The authorities have finally pledged to listen to the voices of protesters who filled city streets for two days, showing great courage as they faced water cannon jets and clouds of tear gas.

“All those who were detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of assembly must now be immediately released. A number of protestors reported that police blocked exit routes, while at the same time chasing, arresting, beating and throwing stun grenades at demonstrators. The police beat and detained at least 77 people, including peaceful protestors and journalists. 

“In many instances, the use of force by police was neither proportionate nor necessary and failed to minimise harm and injury. The intensive use of tear gas and water cannon can constitute torture or other ill-treatment and should be thoroughly investigated.” 

Protests turned violent

The widely criticised legislation sparked mass protests in Tbilisi on Tuesday, the same day the Parliament of Georgia adopted the first of two bills on “foreign agents” in its first hearing. 

The protests, which lasted for two days and were largely peaceful, at times turned violent. Demonstrators smashed the Parliament of Georgia’s windows, destroyed fences and threw rocks at police. Over 77 people were apprehended by law enforcement. The police also used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowds. 

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