Journalists Verbally and Physically Abused in Ditsi Village
The Information agency INFO 9 journalist and cameraman have been verbally and physically abused in the villageof Ditsi, Gori region. The camera crew was visiting the village to cover the water supply issue.
Journalist Shorena Gongladze applied to the Zurab Bolashvili, State representative to the village to obtain an interview. Initially the State official easily agreed to the interview but later, having noticed the INFO 9 logo he required the camera crew to switch the camera off and immediately leave the area. It is noteworthy that the village administration and the local police department are located within the same building. The policemen standing nearby were demanding the cameraman to quit filming military equipments in the yard. But according to the footage it’s evident the cameraman was not trying to film the military equipments but the State official. In a short while the villagers dressed in civilian clothing striving to help the head of the village verbally and physically abused the INFO 9 camera crew. The incident was taking place in front of the policemen who did not even try to ease the situation.
Cameraman Tornike Tibilashvili recollects that in the course of clashes an unclear item hit his head having ensued minor injury. The video camera is damaged too. Notwithstanding physical abuse he did not switch the camera off and managed to save the footage.
“I was filming and was going to record Gemgebeli but the latter ordered me to switch the camera off and leave the area. Aggression followed. We were being threatened with breaking our hands and heads,” said Tornike Tibilashvili.
The INFO 9 reporter Shorena Gongladze alleges the State official to the village leveled threats against her. The journalist appeals to Public Defender, law enforcement bodies and NGOs for response to the case.
“In a private conversation Gamgebeli told me in person that we would never again get access there and in case we did we would never get out. We took this threat for real but we will arrive there if needed,” says Shorena Gongladze.
State representative to the village of Ditsi alleges the camera crew rushed into his room and acted in a provocative manner. No violence has been exerted on journalists, he said, but the footage speaks of something different.
Reporting to Media.ge Zurab Bolashvili says: “They rushed in and without saying a word started filming. And moreover they entered the police building, that is prohibited. No one has touched them with a finger, no violence was used. They were trying to be provocative, seeking for trouble.”
For the last few months Shida Kartli journalists have been repeatedly facing pressure and interference into professional activities. Notwithstanding media and non-governmental sector requests for the response and punishment of perpetrators thus far no one has been held responsible for the abuse against media representatives. The trend of abusing journalists in the regions is still on.
To view the video on the incident in the village of Ditsi please, visit INFO 9 website http://info9.ge/?l=G&m=1000&id=288