T. Shamba, A. Neproshin
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Legal basis of statehood and sovereignty
Chapter 3. Legal basis of statehood
3.6. About so-called “refugees”
Not having solved basic questions by defining the true originator of aggression and instigator of war in Transcaucasia and, especially, by not having applied international sanctions against it directed towards the suppression of further attempts at aggression, the United Nations have untied the hands of Georgia in its further claims on lands not belonging to it. The slogan “Abkhazia is Georgia” has not been forgotten by officials from the United Nations and their protege. Understanding that forcing Abkhazia to agree to a new annexation will not be possible, steps towards the creation in Abkhazia of the required demographic situation, which were carried out actively throughout the previous century by their Georgian wards, have been undertaken again within the United Nations. The problem is how to install in the country as large a quantity of Georgians as possible, then having artificially created a numerical superiority of this part of the population there, to return Abkhazia by “legitimate” parliamentary means to the bosom of Georgia. This group of Georgian people will naturally make a “fifth column”, by means of which it will be possible to dethrone the unshakeable government of Abkhazia and to enable the election in Abkhazia, as M.Saakashvili has stated, of a “proGeorgian” president. With this aim in view, at the request of Georgian political demagogues the United Nations declared all the Georgians wishing to settle in Abkhazia as refugees, and in its annual decisions demanded that the Abkhazian side provide Georgians with the opportunity of returning to the country.
Since the moment of connection of the United Nations to the peace-keeping process in Abkhazia, in its documents items continuously appear from year to year about “the political status of Abkhazia as a part of Georgia” and about the returning of refugees to its territory. The aim is to return refugees at any cost to Abkhazia, which belongs to Georgia. Georgia and world community organisations forget that the formal recognition of the presence of refugees from Abkhazia to Georgia is a recognition of Abkhazia as a sovereign country, as “refugees” (by the definition of experts of the United Nations) cannot be in one country, which is the category in which Georgia together with Abkhazia considers itself. Inside the country there can be only “internally displaced persons (IDP)”.
But this is not the main point. As Abkhazia is not a part of Georgia, the Georgians who left Abkhazia after its finding of independence are not refugees, but repatriates. The convention on the status of refugees, accepted on July 28th, 1951 by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries about the Status of Refugees and Repatriates, called according to resolution 429 (V) of the General Assembly from December 14th, 1950, makes the following definition of this category of persons:
“Article 1 - Definition of concept “refugee”
A. In the present Convention the term “refugee” means a person who:
2)…owing to quite proven fears of becoming a victim of prosecutions on the basis of race, creed, citizenship, an accessory to a certain social group or political convictions, is out of the country of their civil affiliation and cannot use the protection of this country or does not wish to use such protection owing to such fears; or, not having certain citizenship and being out of the country of the usual former residence as a result of similar events, cannot or does not wish to return to it owing to such fears.
C. Regulations of the present Convention do not extend any further for a person falling under the definitions of section A who:
1) voluntarily has again taken advantage of the protection of the country of their civil affiliation; or
2) having lost the citizenship, again has obtained it voluntarily; or
3) has acquired new citizenship and uses the protection of the country of their new civil affiliation; or
4) voluntarily has again settled in the country which they had left or out of whose limits they had stayed owing to fears of prosecutions;
F. Regulations of the present Convention do not extend to all those persons concerning whom there are serious reasons to assume that they:
a) have committed a crime against the world, a war crime or a crime against humanity in the definition given to these actions in international documents, which were drawn up with the aim of acceptance of measures concerning similar crimes;
b) have committed a serious crime of a non-political nature outside of the country which has given them refuge and before they have been admitted into this country as refugees;
c) are guilty of committing acts contradicting the purposes and principles of the United Nations Organization”.
Thus, though officials from the United Nations consider that “all Georgians who left Abkhazia, running from the horrors of war, are refugees”, in reality it is a different matter. According to the international documents on this question, the right to define “who is who” belongs only to the country which people left. For the country into which the people from another state arrive, refugees are only foreigners. Convention rules “do not extend any further for a person falling under the definitions of section A (refugee - author)”..., in the case where that person... “voluntarily has again taken advantage of the protection of the country of their civil affiliation” (i.e. for Georgians who returned to Georgia).
With the beginning of military actions, heavy Georgian army weapons and gangs of National Guard bandits came into the southern part of Abkhazia, and in this region the arson of houses of Abkhazians and Armenians began, together with beatings, tortures and shooting of the civilian population. The people left possessions acquired over decades and ran from the Georgian aggressors and the horrors of war, trying to escape from ethnic cleansing and their destruction due to their nationality. They ran to the north, over the river Psou to the Krasnodar region of Russia. No, the ethnic Georgians living in Abkhazia did not run. They met the Georgian bands named “guards” with flowers, Georgian flags, and greetings of welcome. From the horrors of war and ethnic cleansing ran Abkhazians, from the horrors of war ran Russians, Armenians, Greeks, Jews and people of other nationalities, as all of them on the lands seized by Georgians were subjected to mockeries, robberies, violence, and physical destruction. They ran beyond the borders of their country of residence and they, and only they, are “refugees”. There is no mention of this in United Nations documents, and the world community doesn’t want to know about it.
Having occupied the southern part of Abkhazia and seized Sukhum, Georgians dethroned the lawful government by force (manu militari). The legitimate Abkhazian government moved to Gudauta for the period of occupation. The invaders, having created their own, Georgian, government, started to introduce a military regime in the country. This was aimed at the destruction of all Abkhazians without exception, from young to old, and the violent removal from the territory of Abkhazia (in truth, only from its occupied part) of all foreigners. With this end in view, the expulsion from the country of ten thousand Greeks and Jews was organized. They were humiliated, compelled to board chartered ships without things which had been stolen from them, lost their homes and belongings, and were sent to Israel or Greece. There was a compulsory exodus of a mass of the people, with the violent deprivation of their right to live in their country of residence and of their citizenship. Nevertheless, this category of persons, according to United Nations rules, also has no right to the definition “refugees”, for although they were violently compelled to leave their country of residence, they “voluntarily have again taken advantage of the protection of the country of their civil affiliation”. This fact of a holocaust does not trouble officials from the United Nations in any way, and they are concerned only with the resettlement of the Georgian fanatics.
As for the category of “internally displaced persons”, the ethnic Georgians who left Abkhazia together with the Georgian army in 1993 cannot be referred to it by definition. The IDPs, according to decisions of the Viennese convention from May 23rd, 1969 and the quadripartite Agreement from April 4th, 1994 (Moscow) about voluntary returning of refugees and displaced persons, in the language of experts are called people who have left their native places but have not left the country. Displaced persons cannot count on the protection and help given to refugees.
The only real “internally displaced persons”, who left their houses during the Georgian occupation and ran away to Bzyb Abkhazia, are Abkhazians, Armenians, and Russians who ran from one part of their native land to another. Unfortunately, this basic definition is not accepted in the legal documents of Abkhazia.
Those who returned to their historical native land (in this case Georgia) from the country in which they lived before, are called repatriates (from latin “re” - a prefix designating renewal, + “patria” - “native land”). Such “returned home” people were one million Algerian Frenchmen, and it was of no value that the majority of them were born in Algeria, as was one of the presidents of France. In the concept of repatriation, such circumstances as one’s birthplace, or reasons for appearing in another country and returning from it, are not included. Millions of citizens of European countries occupied by Hitler - “displaced persons” who after the war returned to their countries - were repatriates also. Some of them had given birth to children in concentration camps or on German farms, but these children were not considered as refugees from Germany, but were also repatriates coming back to their native land after having been born in another country. As we have shown above, based on data from population censuses, till the end of XIX century in Abkhazia there were practically no Georgians. Therefore all Georgians of Abkhazia (excluding Mingrelians from Samurzakan), possessed and still possess only Georgian citizenship, and were newcomers on Abkhazian land, so it is not their native land. We underline that the rules of Conventions “do not extend any further for a person falling under the definitions of section A” (a refugee - authors), in case that person “voluntarily has again taken advantage of the protection of the country of their civil affiliation”.
One of the actions of the Georgian administration in the occupied territory of Abkhazia, along with a genocide in relation to Abkhazians and a holocaust to Greeks and Jews, was the issue of arms to all the suitable population - ethnic Georgians. If Georgian statistics specify that the so-called “Georgian refugees” make 250 thousand persons, in Abkhazia there is authentic data about more than 45 thousand of them listed by surname who were armed recruits. The Georgian military authorities gave out to each ethnic Georgian living in the territory of Abkhazia an automatic gun or other fighting weapon (even the numbers of the weapons which were given out to identified persons are known), and they were entered into the structure of the armed forces. Each such Georgian family provided a fighter against sovereign Abkhazia, or even two.
A.Otyrba gives the following information, making comments on a major interview of the speaker of the Georgian parliament by the “Nezavisimaya Gazeta”:
“The sensation is that since the termination of the Georgian-Abkhazian war, Tbilisi has persistently asserted that the refugees who left Abkhazia are innocent peaceful inhabitants, who were expelled by Abkhazians absolutely groundlessly. And here for the first time at official level this was refuted. On a comment from the correspondent that in Sukhum they declare today that they consider it not only possible but also necessary to accept the return of those refugees who did not commit crimes and were not at war against them, but the Georgian authorities do not allow them to come back, Nino Burdjanadze answered thus:
“I consider that those people who committed war crimes should be punished, whether they be Georgian, Abkhazian, Russian or Chechen. But the fact is that Abkhazians name as criminals all, without any exception, who took weapons and protected their houses, wives, children and families. Because of this, it turns out that none of the refugees should come back”.
Thereby, Nino Burdjanadze admitted that Georgian inhabitants of Abkhazia had been armed without exception. But, as is known, a person who has taken a fighting weapon in his hands is not a civilian person nor even a combatant. Naturally, these persons also do not enter the category of “refugees” or “displaced persons”. They are military criminals, and left Abkhazia together with fleeing members of the Georgian troops.
According to norms of the United Nations, “Regulations of the present Convention do not extend to all those persons concerning whom there are serious reasons to assume that they:
a) have committed a crime against the world, a war crime or a crime against humanity in the definition given to these actions in international documents, which were drawn up with the aim of acceptance of measures concerning similar crimes”.
Nevertheless, for officials of the United Nations, all these persons (though all of them ran from a fair penalty for murders, and for betraying their country of residence, together with fleeing Georgian troops) are “refugees”. All efforts by this organisation are directed towards the return of this part of the efficient aggressive population. The reason for this is clear.
The defeat of the aggressors and their flight was predetermined. The president of Abkhazia, during the conduct of operations to clear Abkhazia of invaders, stated that: with the proviso that ethnic Georgians did not take up weapons in their hands and did not oppose the people of Abkhazia, the option was offered to persons of Georgian nationality who were not participating in evil deeds against the people of the country not to leave Abkhazia, and each of them was guaranteed the rights of a citizen of the Republic of Abkhazia.
This address to Georgians did not achieve success. Euphoria at the beginning of a victorious campaign by the Georgian armada in Abkhazia completely untied hands for a genocide in relation to the peoples of Abkhazia, and impunity for military and criminal offences turned the heads of ethnic Georgians. In this dancing “on the graves of the murdered”, begun by Georgia on August 14th, supporters and non-supporters of Gamsakhurdia joined together. Ethnic Georgians living in Abkhazia only found such permissiveness with the arrival of regular Georgian troops. In this, and with their returning to the so-called “Democratic Republic of Georgia”, the essence of Georgian culture was shown. As the newspaper “Droni” from September 4th, 1992 wrote: “input of the Georgian troops has encouraged the Georgian population. The hope has appeared that we are not alone”.
During the existence of the USSR, despite the evidence of a genocide and of ethnic violence from the Georgian administration, there was no friction in its relations with the multinational people of Abkhazia, including ethnic Georgians. It was one community, an amicable family building socialism. But the ambitions of political functionaries of Georgia extended much further, in the area of creation of the Georgian empire, and were especially shown after the disintegration of the USSR. Modern Georgian politicians, in achievement of these other-wordly purposes, did not shun and do not shun anything - from distortion of the history of Transcaucasia to the direct planning of Anschluss, the capture by military force of everything that a thievish hand can get, and its inclusion in the structure of Georgia. But there has come a day of reckoning, and Georgians have received what they struggled for.
This should be understood by officials from the United Nations. But the United Nations continue to prepare the next documents, trying to present these homebrew fighters as “innocent lambs”, victims of Abkhazian aggression. Moreover, there is a desire to drag into basic documents the subject of ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia in relation to ethnic Georgians, as one of the worst crimes against humanity, though special investigations have found no evidence of this phenomenon. In this respect, the United Nations is guided by hypocrisy and double standards.
Today Georgian officials, giving reasons for their claims to Abkhazia, refer to the quantitative structure of refugees. They assert that the number of refugees exceeds the quantity of people who have remained in Abkhazia, and this gives them the right to define the future of Abkhazia. From such an argument it appears that it is possible to justify any robbers, on the grounds that during a previous unsuccessful robbery there were more robbers than planned victims, and on this basis they should be allowed to repeat the crime. But according to all laws and ethical standards, the superiority in strength of criminals over their victims only accentuates the fault of the former.
As a result of the war started by the Georgian adventurers, and their utter defeat and subsequent departure with a considerable part of the Georgian population who had done evil deeds in the territory of Abkhazia, the status quo was restored, which has led to normalisation of the ethnodemographic situation.
Georgia puts one of the conditions for termination of the conflict as the returning of all refugees to Abkhazia. However, as all Georgians who left Abkhazia during the military Georgian expansion were either insurgents in the army of aggressors or their helpers, i.e. were military criminals, and because from the point of view of world practice their actions were illegal, their return would be accompanied by criminal investigation or investigation of war crimes, and the sentence of guilty in the courts. Regarding criminal and war crimes against representatives of Russian, Abkhazian, Jewish, Armenian and other sections of the population, more than 45 thousand persons of Georgian nationality are under investigation for committing evil actions against the people of Abkhazia. These criminals consider themselves as refugees, and most actively demand their return, including through bodies of the United Nations, the European Union, etc. They know that their hands are covered in the blood of the innocent Abkhazian civilian population, and understand that upon their returning to independent Abkhazia there is only one road for them - to a dock. Therefore an indispensable condition of their returning is revenge, the condition that Abkhazia will be a part of Georgia.
Are they refugees? No! Firstly they, unlike other members of the population of Abkhazia having Abkhazian and Russian citizenship, were citizens only of Georgia and, having left Abkhazia, returned to live in the country of their own citizenship; secondly, they are not internally displaced persons, as they left for another country. The fact that they consider the Abkhazia occupied previously by them as a part of their country changes nothing. If the criminal aspect of these people is ignored, it appears that they left the country by their own free will according to their own decision, as is the right of each citizen of a free democratic country. It was their choice, not made during the year of military actions. They did not run from the horrors of war, in fact during those horrors they freely lived in an occupied territory, enjoying the possibility of plundering the houses of other people in the country, believing that their lawlessness would remain unpunished.
Has the United Nations any right to demand the returning to Abkhazia of persons of this category? No! Such a right is available only to the people who left Abkhazia in 1992 and 1993, really running from the horrors of the war started by the Georgian invaders, along with ethnic cleansings and genocide conducted by them in the territory of sovereign Abkhazia. Do ethnic Georgians have the right to return to Abkhazia? The answer is also no, as they were repatriated, returned home, and left Abkhazia by their own free will. Do they have the right to apply for residence in Abkhazia? Undoubtedly, as everyone has the right to ask permission to reside in any country of the world. This, as a rule, involves a check by relevant bodies about any previous offences, the issue of a residence permit for a certain period, and decision by the host state regarding the possibility and expediency of granting citizenship to this person.
Georgia does not intend to solve this problem on the basis of compromise, as it is necessary to solve (partially at least) the question of “refugees” on the terms of the status of independence of Abkhazia existing today, and there would be a necessity to recognise the sovereignty of Abkhazia de jure. This is not included in Georgia’s revanchist plans.
The problem of “refugees” has one more aspect. As T.Achugba shows, the more the problem of refugees is publicised by Georgia, the more strongly Georgia can influence the international community, as the problem of mutual relations with Abkhazia becomes more crucial. The Georgian government will not attempt to improve the living conditions of “refugees” in Georgia, as in that case the international pressure on Abkhazia would decrease at once, and the problem of their return would never be solved.
We believe that any attempt to enable the uncontrolled return of so-called “refugees” (ethnic Georgians) without assigning them Abkhazian citizenship and cancelling their Georgian citizenship (which it is possible to name as repatriation), is directed towards a change in the demographic situation in the country, and the reconstruction of a “fifth column” whose purpose is to overthrow the government and seize power in sovereign Abkhazia. It is known that the settling of an independent state by foreigners deprives the indigenous population of their right to free-willed self-determination. The United Nations requirement about Georgian settlers, who ran from Abkhazia, returning from their historic native land of Georgia, cannot be considered from the point of view of international law as legal, as the fact of foreigners settling in Abkhazia has all the elements of the colonial policy of an imperialist country and is a nonsense in modern policy and practice.
If you have expelled aggressors (for example, fascists in the Second World War) from an occupied territory of the USSR, are you now obliged to return them to this territory for permanent residence, because during the occupation, within three-four years they became accustomed to living there, and this place became their native land? You will answer that this is an absurdity. Nevertheless, the suggestion that this absurdity must be carried out in Abkhazia is made by the international community, in the name of the United Nations and the European Union.
History knows a precedent similar to the Abkhazian situation. After the Second World War, Czechoslovakia evicted from their territory three million ethnic Sudeten Germans who had lived there from time immemorial. Nothing happened as a result, and nobody considers this fact as a genocide. Moreover, it was not an obstacle for the introduction of the Czech Republic into the European Union.
Shamba T., Neproshin А. Abkhazia: Legal basis of statehood and sovereignty. М: Open Company "In-Oktavo", 2005, 240 pages.
Абхазы - (самоназвание апсуа) автохтонное население Кавказа.
Абхазия (краткая историческая справка).
Исторические лица Абхазии (биографический справочник).
Редактор Вячеслав Румянцев
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