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Human rights and antimilitarist groups in Georgia face a range of specific challenges. Ucha Nanuashvili reports.

Developing resources for change

Our society is undergoing a period of serious transition. Transformations are occurring that are having a negative impact not only on socially vulnerable groups, but on the entire population.

Our society does not currently have enough knowledge, nor the mechanisms, that would allow it to solve its numerous problems through nonviolent means. The consequences are tragic: almost 33% of Georgia's population has been forced to leave their permanent residences, thousands have been lost to civil war, and even more have become disabled.

The creation of the group supporting WRI activities in Georgia began several years ago. The initiating group included human rights defenders, lawyers, politicians and other people of different professions, and youth and students. Group members work in a human rights centre and have experience in defending human rights, in conflict prevention and peace initiatives. Today there are more than 10 activists and 30 supporters in the group. People involved in the implementation of conflict prevention, mediation and resolution, require training in the practical application of these skills; education in Georgia in this field is crucial when looking to the future. It is essential to organise and implement pro-grams on nonviolence and conflict resolution for NGOs,teachers, professors, police, and the military.

Learning new skills

The group works in different ways and plans the following activities for the forthcoming year: organising training seminars about nonviolence and conflict prevention for NGOs and the mass media. We plan to disseminate a special bulletin highlighting these issues; an information database and web-site will be created containing full information about the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and the other conflicts in the Caucasus; within the framework of the project, legal assistance will also be offered the victims of human rights violations.

In many countries around the world today, especially in those newly independent states that experienced difficulties and conflict at the end of the Cold War, more and more people have become victims of daily violence. In the past decade, millions of people have suffered the tragic effects of ethnic, religious, nationalist, racially inspired and gang-related warfare waged in the South Caucasus region. Many people continue to be killed, and many more are injured, both physically and psychologically in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Chechnya, and Nagorno Karabakh among others.

Violence begets more violence unless we intervene. When people do not have the opportunity to learn skills for peaceful conflict resolution, they grow up believing that violence will solve the problems of human relationships.

Open door

Recently the Georgian government expressed its desire to join the anti-terrorism coalition and to let the US and its allies use Georgian military bases. A group of US instructors arrived in Georgia in autumn 2002 and began to prepare the Georgian armed forces for anti-terrorist operations.

The government does not care about the existing conflicts in the region and the Georgian people have no confidence in the government. Russia is not interested in solving these conflicts either, as it is trying to maintain its influence over the former soviet countries - Georgia amongst them.

However, society's resistance to war activities has become more active in recent years and this is the reason why organisations have begun to work more actively in the field.

WRI Georgia, 42 Rustaveli Ave, 3rd floor, Tbilisi 380008, Georgia (+995 99 508036; fax 32 935249; email ishrg@caucasus.net).

Ucha Nanuashvili works with the Independent Society "Human Rights Georgia" and War Resisters' International - Georgian Section