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A Georgian Safe Haven for Rights Activists

Where do rights defenders from across the former Soviet Union go to recharge their batteries? For many, the answer is Tbilisi.

5 March 2019

Tbilisi Shelter City is a place where rights activists can recuperate from the stress of their jobs, get medical and psychological care, and brush up their English, Eurasianet.org reports.

 

“They [guests] are often persecuted, they work on hard issues, torture and kidnappings. Most of them see [their work] as so important that they don’t rest,” said the center’s project coordinator, Svitlana Valko.

 

Khairullo Mirsaidov came to the center shortly after being freed from a Tajik prison last August.

 

The journalist and former comedian was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2017 on what were widely seen as trumped up charges meant to quash his reports on corruption.

 

He spent months in Tbilisi recovering from the physical and psychological ordeal of prison. He is still in Georgia, Asia-Plus writes of its former correspondent. In January a Tajik court sentenced him in absentia to eight months for breaching a court order and illegally leaving the country.

 

Logo of the Tbilisi Shelter City. Image via Facebook.

 

Since opening in 2016, the Western-funded shelter has received 67 guests, Eurasianet says.

 

Centers like Tbilisi Shelter City offer safe havens for rights activists in the CIS who often cannot obtain a visa to enter the European Union.

 

Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine – “states that are somewhat more democratic and respectful of the rule of law” – are more receptive to taking in activists, openDemocracy wrote in 2018.

 

 

  • Tajik opposition figure Sharofiddin Gadoev is apparently back in Europe after being detained in the country for two weeks in a bizarre episode marked by his confession, later retracted, and allegations he was tortured and spirited from Moscow to Dushanbe by Russian and Tajik security services.

 

  • Gadoev said he had returned to Europe in a live-streamed Facebook video on 2 March, RFE/RL reports. He went into self-imposed exile several years ago and has refugee status in the Netherlands.

 

  • Human Rights Watch researcher Steve Swerdlow said the efforts of Gadoev’s fellow exiles and German and Dutch diplomats, and the fact that he has refugee status in the EU most likely persuaded Tajikistani officials to release him.

 Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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TOL PROMOTION

We would like to invite you to meet Kathryn Thier, a recognized expert and instructor of Solutions Journalism from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

 

Join us to learn more about the connections between investigative reporting and Solutions Journalism and discover the impact that bringing the “whole” story has on communities. Kathryn’s keynote speech will be followed by a panel discussion on bringing the solutions perspective into reporting practices with Nikita Poljakov, deputy editor in chief of the business daily Hospodářské noviny. Nikita is also head of the project “Nejsi sám” (You are not alone), which uses the solutions approach to tackle the issue of male suicide. The main program will be followed by an informal wine reception. 

 

The event will take place on Monday, 25 March at 5 p.m. in the Hollar building of the Charles University Faculty of Social Sciences (Smetanovo nábřeží 6, Praha 1). The event will be in English. 

 

Attendance is free upon registration - please, fill in the registration form.

 

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