“Once again, we express concern over the large-scale process of intentional destruction of Georgian cultural heritage in the occupied territory of Abkhazia,” claim the activists of the NGO “Movement for Cultural Heritage” (Sakdrisi Committee).
According to them, “Movement for Cultural Heritage” (Sakdrisi Committee) activists, after Gali and Ochamchire districts, in September managed to familiarize themselves with the state of monuments in Sokhumi, Gulripshi, Gudauta and Bichvinta, and take photos and video material. The study of the situation on the ground once again revealed that there is an organized process of erasing the Georgian traces on the cultural heritage monuments in Abkhazia, which is manifested in the deliberate damage and destruction of the unique heritage and distortion of historical facts.
“Secular, including engineering and fortification monuments are in a particularly difficult situation.
For instance, the Besleti (Bagrati) castle – the residence of Tskhumi nobles in the 5th-14th centuries, and nearby, on the Besleti river, the so-called Tamar Bridge, which are being “eaten” by plants and trees.
Moreover, due to the difficult condition of the bridge, the Georgian Asomatavruli inscription about King Bagrat is no longer readable.
The Shervashidze Palace in the village of Lykhny (Gulripshi district) is in the process of being destroyed. The monument, known for centuries as the Shervashidze Palace, is today called “Chachba’s Residence” (as evidenced by the plaque on the wall).
The condition of the unique Bichvinta Cathedral of the X-XI centuries, which currently houses a concert hall (?!), is particularly worrying, as a result of which the improper regulation of sound waves poses a significant threat to the still preserved wall paintings and mosaic fragments.
The process of erasing the Georgian traces is going on in the so-called National Museum of Sokhumi, where copies of frescoes of Georgian kings are presented without appropriate information, while other artifacts of Georgian cultural heritage are also not accompanied by proper descriptions.
The Movement for Cultural Heritage, as early as May 3, addressed an emergency letter to the International Representation of the Blue Shield and ICOMOS, at which time, based on the materials obtained, it called on them to act in accordance with the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Monuments in Time of War and show more attention, interest and activity in Abkhazia to save the monuments of Georgian cultural heritage.
“Movement for Cultural Heritage” once again calls on the legislative body – the government of Georgia – and the government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, as well as academic circles, to use the levers at their disposal and the connections that still exist with the other side, to stop the destruction of Georgian cultural heritage in Abkhazia immediately.
A photo report and complete information on the state of cultural heritage monuments in Abkhazia will be available on our Facebook page,” claim the activists.