Young Greens' Position Pertaining to the Police Attacks

published: 12 May 2018

On the 12th of May 2018, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia conducted an operation, ostensibly within the framework of the fight against drug crimes, on the territory of the clubs “BASSIANI” and “Cafe Gallery”. As a result, more than eight people were taken by police from the territory of the above-mentioned clubs, as were dozens of people at the peaceful gathering in front of the Parliament building.

The activities conducted by the police forces are the response of the Georgian state to events that have been going on in the country during the last few months, and in a wider context, to ongoing debates regarding the approach of the state to the liberalization of its drug policy. The events of May 12th have added reasonable suspicion to the widespread opinion that the Georgian state is aiming at the demonization of underground spaces within the ostensible framework of the fight against drug-crimes. Besides that, there is room for suspicion regarding the timing and relation of the conducted police activities to the upcoming event for the “International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia” on May 17th, to political changes in the major governmental power “Georgian Dream” that took place on May 11th, and to upcoming events for the 100th anniversary of the Independence of Georgia on the 26th of May.

The activities conducted by the Police raise questions with regards to the proportionality and absolute necessity of the measures that were taken by the police after 3-month’s intensive intelligence gathering and investigations about drug-crimes. The measures taken by the Georgian state can be perceived as a message and statement to the wider public, aiming to create the perception of underground spaces and drug-crimes as inherently interconnected; such a message violates the dignity and reputation of not only the underground spaces, but of the people who enjoy such places. One of the biggest achievements of a democratic state is the availability and legality of a variety of life choices and therefore, alternatives and spaces that expand the freedoms of each and every member of society to express and realize themselves according to their preferences.

During the preceding years, Tbilisi’s underground techno scene has become an important platform not only for entertainment, but also for mobilization of civic activism. Those spaces gave an opportunity to young people, and to anyone else who was interested, to seek out alternative ways of self-expression which were not available elsewhere. Alternative underground spaces have become safe havens for many young and old people who share a belief in the freedom of expression, places they relate to and feel proud of. The activities conducted by the Georgian state on 12th of May, are not only extremely suspicious and a reactionary form of the fight against drug-crimes, but also a fight against the spaces which are one of the symbols of freedom for the young and open-minded and forward-thinking residents of Georgia.

It is high time for the Georgian state to stop this repressive policy against young people and freedom lovers, to deploy and implement a holistic, adequate and structural approach towards its drug-policy and also, to take into consideration the important role of diversity and freedom of expression to the continued success of this nation. It is time to stop this oppressive and repressive regime.

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