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Institute "Abkhazia" tackles ethnic cleansing issue

{enclose AISER-Radio_08302007003.mp3}by Dr. Ramaz Mitaishvili

At its monthly meeting, the AISER tackled the explosive subject of anti-Georgian discrimination in Russia, country presently seeking entry into WTO. The assembly was held on Thursday, August 23 at the Glendale AISER Headquarters.

Mr. Irakli Gagua said his goal is to raise awareness concerning issues affecting Georgian- Americans.

"The large Georgian-American population in the South California needs a group that will act in its interests," he said. "We want to reach out to other Georgian groups in an effort to bring attention to many issues that are vital to the Georgian-American community."

A major topic he believes deserves particular scrutiny is the ethnic cleansing of Georgians in Abkhazia (breakaway province of Georgia). In an open letter to the press, Mr. Gagua cited that 350,000 ethnic Georgians were purged, through murder and/or exile from 1992 to 1993 in Abkhazia.
At the time, many Georgian-Americans living in the California hoped this event would open the door to land reclamation that was once rightfully their own. "They deserved some recognition of what was taken from them," reported Mr. Gagua.

But Russia and Criminal Self-proclaimed government effectively enacted legislation prohibiting Georgians from returning or claiming any rights of heredity or restitution.

Simultaneously, however, Russians and ethnic Apsua were given the right to claim restitution to the property nationalized by the self-proclaimed regime.

Mr. Gagua believes America should prevent Russia from entering into WTO until Russia will discontinue to support criminal regimes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
"We want the human rights of Georgian exiles recognized and respected," said Mr. Ushangi Rizhinashvili, Director of Department for Public Relations and Cultural Diplomacy, co-speaker of the event. Mr. Rezhinashvili stated that many members of the California community were affected by ethnic cleansing and/or are the direct descendants f those subjected to it. "We want to get the word out and get people involved," Mr. Rezhinashvili said. "We are working together with other associations and are lobbying the Georgian government and various people in America to get something done about it."

While ethnic cleansing was the main focus of AISER’s meeting, Mr. Gagua said other issues will take precedence in the future, as they attempt to be an influential voting group during future elections.

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