Public Defender’s Address to Government of Georgia
The Public Defender of Georgia, together with the Council of National Minorities, addresses the Government of Georgia to temporarily lift the travel restriction on March 21 in connection with the Nowruz holiday to allow our citizens to celebrate the day without hindrance and with dignity.
Representatives of the Azerbaijani community and activists also sent an official letter to the Georgian Government on March 18 with the same request. Unfortunately, the authorities first submitted the application to the Agency for Religious Issues for consideration and finally refused to satisfy it.
It is noteworthy that Nowruz-Bayram originates in the Old World and coincides with vernal equinox. Nowruz has been celebrated in Georgia for many centuries (it is mentioned in the Knight in the Panther’s Skin as well) and since 2010 it has been declared a national holiday. Nowruz is widely celebrated in municipalities populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis; However, due to the restrictions relating to the Covid-19 pandemic, the holiday could not be fully celebrated in 2020 and its celebration is threatened in 2021 as well.
The Council of National Minorities of the Public Defender of Georgia agrees that the restrictions serve to protect the health of citizens and recognizes its purpose - to protect people from the spread of the virus, but at the same time, it should be borne in mind that for a large part of our citizens, the celebration of Nowruz in its traditional form is of special importance.
It is noteworthy that we have already had the practice of temporarily removing restrictions for the celebration of a general holiday (Christmas on January 7, 2021), which did not complicate the epidemiological situation. At the same time, some restrictions are planned to be lifted in connection with the March 28 football match.
The Public Defender and the Council of National Minorities of the Public Defender hope that the Government of Georgia will consider and satisfy the request of some Georgian citizens in order to reinforce their feeling that the State recognizes the equality of Georgian citizens in terms of realization of their national and religious freedoms.