Since July 2022 the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) in cooperation with the National Parliament Library of Georgia and Center of Regional Initiatives - “Bright Future” started a regional tourney during which held a presentation on the issue of repressed people a screening of the film "Cemetery of the Shot in Batumi" shot by Radio Free Georgia/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
In total, 10 meetings in 8 municipalities were held, attended by more than 500 people.
The first meeting took place on 29th July in Poti municipal library and it was attended by library employees.
The next destination was on 29-30 September in Kaspi - Besik Naparishvili multi-purpose school gymnasium, Central Library of Borjomi, and Gori Photographers’ Club. These meetings were attended by school students, teachers and library employees.
It should be noted that the multi-purpose school gymnasium in Kaspi is located in the former police building of the time of the Soviet Union. In the basement of the building, during the Soviet Union, a pre-trial detention centre was set up, where you can still find solitary cells and many items typical of the Soviet Union's handwriting.
Museum consists of two exhibition halls - information displayed on banners tells us stories of repressed people and people affected by war from the establishment of the Bolshevik regime up to the August war of 2008 that cost the lives of many people.
Civic education teacher Nino Niparishvili noted: “I believe that more such meetings should be held; more people, particularly young citizens, should watch this film to always remember “Cemetery of the Shot” - a place that contains a terrifying history of many people while making a decision about the future of our country. Exactly such meetings will lead us to that day when the majority of the future generations of our country will precisely assess the regime that created the cemetery of shot, the regime whose direct successor is modern Russia”.
On 11-12 October meetings were held in Ozurgeti and Khoni municipalities.
The meetings took place in the Center of Democratic involvement, in Ozurgeti and in the reading hall of the main library in Khoni. Among the attendants were representatives of local civic organizations, teachers, high school students, local media, representatives of public school administrations, historical museum employees and other interested parties.
During the meeting in the Ozurgeti municipality, history and civic education teacher from Baileti village, Irma Gordeladze noted that many things, particularly the cemetery of repressed people, the hard work of anthropologists, and the complicated process of identification, were new to her.
“The film impressed me and at the same time made me very sad. The presentation was very informative and diverse. You really did a great job. Now I wish more people could watch this film to avoid returning to dark times. As a history and civic education teacher, I think such films and presentations should be held in every school to make future generations know about the true history of how repressive regimes fought against thinkers; how they destroyed human values: freedom of speech and equality that hindered progress and development.”
Representative of the centre of democratic engagement in Ozurgeti, Grigol Makharadze underlined the fact that “more people got information about specific facts displayed in the film and general insight into repressions during Stalin’s epoch. Q/A after the film screening was also very interesting - we discussed what can be done by the state or society in this field in terms of research, supporting museums of victims et cetera.
On October 18 meetings were held in Ilia Chavchavadze public library and at Kutaisi University, attended by library employees, students, media representatives and other interested parties.
On October 19, a presentation and film screening was conducted in the occupation museum of Lanchkhuti. It was attended by employees of the Lanchkhuti local lore museum, school students and teachers. The meeting was joined by a teacher of Chibati public school, Lado Apkhazava who is the winner of the Teachers’ National Prize and it was exactly his idea to establish the museum in Lanchkhuti.
On October 20, the final meeting was held at the Centre of democratic engagement and municipal library in Zugdidi. It was attended by representatives of local NGOs, media, library employees, school students and teachers.
Within the above-mentioned meetings Anton Vatcharadze, the Memory and Disinformation Studies Direction Head of the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), gave a presentation on the theme of the repressed and talked about the great terror that took place in Georgia in 1937-1938, introduced a different history from the mentioned era to the audience, and also drew attention to the specificity and significance of the discovery of mass graves. He discussed the history of the tombs discovered in Adjara and the work carried out to identify the remains. Anton Vatcharadze also underlined the importance of raising monthly subsidies for repressed people by the government of Georgia that for the present moment is 7 laris.
At the end of the meetings, the attending public had the opportunity to ask interesting questions and express their opinion about the presentation topic.
The information meeting was held with the financial support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
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