For Immediate Release
July 17, 2001
(Georgian in PDF format)
Beatings continue in Republic of Georgia—perpetrators remain unpunished
TBILISI, GEORGIA—On Wednesday, July 11, 2001, at 7:45 p.m., about 25 recognized followers of defrocked priest Vasili Mkalavishvili again violently disrupted a peaceful religious meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the Temka region of Tbilisi about 30 visitors in an apartment on the fourth floor of a five-story building were engaged in a Bible discussion when the mob stormed the staircase and smashed the door in with a sledgehammer. Once inside, they started beating those in attendance, mainly women and children, with metal-studded clubs. Several suffered serious injuries and required urgent medical aid in a nearby hospital. Mkalavishvili was seen near the entrance of the building in one of the vehicles used by the gang. At least four of the attackers—Vakhtang Dadunadze, Zura Lomtatidze, Bela Vacheishvili and Lia Akhalkatsi—were identified by the victims.
Since October 1999, religious extremists have instigated 80 such violent attacks, but none of the well-known perpetrators have been punished so far. The freedom from prosecution that the attackers have been enjoying has recently prompted an application by Jehovah’s Witnesses to the European Court of Human Rights.
Contact: J. R. Brown, telephone: (718) 560-5600