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Audi alteram partem

A Personal Perspective from Abkhazia, by Gunda Amza-Natia Hewitt

I have one question to put to the west, and that is, how on earth can it possibly justify closing its eyes and ears to what is really happening in the Caucasus and allow Saakashvili’s regime to continue its brutal murder of thousands of innocent civilians in South Ossetia?

Watching the horrific events unfold from a place that is closely linked to South Ossetia in its bid to be internationally recognised as independent and free from Georgia, namely, Abkhazia, I find myself feeling utter distress and complete horror at the thought that the people I see suffering excruciating pain and loss in South Ossetia could be joined by my own Abkhazian relatives and friends at any moment.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the next phase of Saakashvili’s operation was, and, perhaps, still is, to bring his murderous machine ever closer to Abkhazia. I have no words to express my frustration and vehement anger at the West not only for cold heartedly turning a blind eye to Georgia’s aggression and laying the blame on Russia alone, but in fact for creating the possibility for Georgia to behave this way in the first place.

Not knowing what might lie just around the corner makes it heartbreaking and frightening to see similar worries etched on the faces of my own friends and relatives; cousins and uncles are among those being mustered, and I can only watch them walk away from the homes they have been struggling to protect and rebuild for the last fifteen years since the last Georgian attack on their land.

Every individual Abkhazian and South Ossetian lives for home and family. They ask for nothing more than to be left alone to live their lives in their own recognised state. They lay no claims to anyone else’s land, and they represent no threat to others; they seek only to protect what is rightly theirs. In all honesty, these people could even live together with the Georgians as they once did, but only with the assurance of no more Georgian initiated fighting.

The West has to ask itself what it stands for. If it is democracy, human rights and freedom of speech, then they are hypocritically in support of a regime that is anything but democratic, humane or open to sensible debate and diplomacy. As a British citizen (something I feel no pride in saying at the moment), I want to express my shame in the UK and the West’s stance in general.

My heart goes out to those who have lost their family members and their homes in South Ossetia, and I can even say the same for those who have lost lives in Georgia, though Georgia only has itself to blame for those losses. Now, I only hope and pray that our Abkhaz boys and men return home without having to experience a second cruel and unnecessary war on their soil within a mere 16 years and that the South Ossetian refugees can return to their homes and start to rebuild what they have lost for the second time in their case also (in view of the earlier war forced upon them by the Georgians in 1990-92).

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