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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Those Lucky Internally Displaced People

Last Friday, exactly two years to the day Ossetian irregulars "cleansed" the Tskhinvali region of its last Georgians while Russian troops consumed the spoils, the displaced were again expelled, only this time it was by Georgian authorities who gave them 7 hours to pack up and leave their shelter.

“A coincidence,” said Maka Esaishvili, NGO and donor officer of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees, “but it had to happen sometime.”

Yeah, and Stalin gave people 15 minutes to pack before he deported them.

It isn’t the fact that these internally displaced persons were evicted from their squalid shelters – they should have been moved long ago - it is the way it was done that was wrong. If the government really cared about the well-being of the people it continually reminds the world are innocent victims of Russia’s aggression, then why not treat them with the minimal respect guaranteed them by law. Coming quietly in the night to tell people they have to leave at sunrise is not just abominable, it is against the law.

The government’s attitude is, we give them houses or $10,000 bucks, what more do they want? Or as Maka says, “They get 10,000 dollars and are luckier than Tbilisi’s regular unemployed.”

Yes, Maka, these lucky people asked Russian and Ossetian troops to come steal everything they owned and raze their homes to the ground. They should be grateful for the government’s collective centers in the boondocks and bags of macaroni and $13 a month in aid, I mean it's a better deal than what the refugees got in 1993. They should be dancing in the streets because you have given them the option of receiving $10,000 in housing compensation – not complaining that you are making them dance through hoops to get the money.

The truth is, the surprise evictions were neither a surprise nor a coincidence. They were conducted in mid-August, a time when the country is on holiday. There were no TV cameras to report how hundreds of people were made homeless again.

“How did you find out about this?” Maka asked.

How indeed.