NGOs Accuse Saakashvili of Making Xenophobic Statements

The non-governmental sector of Georgia claims that the third President of the country Mikheil Saakashvili, is making xenophobic statements and uses hate speech towards some foreign nationals.

The NGOs, united under the civil platform ‘No to Phobia’ criticized Saakashvili for making “anti-social” statements on November 4.

The civil sector says Saakashvili used a negative word to describe Bangladeshi and Indian tourists in a video clip when he was speaking about the tourist potential of Georgia.

“We need rich tourists from all over the world. We do not need these poor and lame tourists who bring their own food. We need people from Emirates, not Bangladesh. I do not have anything against the people from Bangladesh…They are simple workers. Indians? They do not have enough income. We need sheikhs who alone will spend as much money as 200 people,” Saakashvili stated in his video address.

He also added that Georgia needs all kinds of tourists, but underlined that it is preferable to have visitors from Germany, the UK and the US.

“We need high-quality tourism, not quantity. Let the rich tourists from Russia, Ukraine or China come…But we have such quarters in Tbilisi where you cannot hear even one Georgian word. I am not happy about this, but I will be happy if Georgian families have more income from the tourism,” he added.

The platform member organizations call on Saakashvili and other politicians to refrain from using hate speech and to further actively promote equality, tolerance and human rights-based political ideas in society.

The NGOs say Saakashvili made similar statements in July, August and September, when he stated that jobs in Georgia were being taken by “poor Iranians, Turks and other foreigners.”

“Instead of rich investors, who should have given jobs to Georgians, we received migrants who can hardly employ themselves,” Saakashvili’s Facebook post read.

The NGOs stress that anti-migrant rhetoric is part of the agenda of enhanced ultra-conservative political groups, adding it is unfortunate that such ideas have actively taken a place in the Georgian political sphere too.

“In the pre-election period, politicians use xenophobic and racist sentiments for electoral mobilization which promotes social conflicts and obviously contradicts the idea of Georgia as a democratic and human-rights-oriented state,” the statement of the civil platform reads.

The NGOs call on political parties not to use hate speech and to support the principle of equality.

By Thea Morrison

Photo source: Foreign Policy

08 November 2018 19:15