Georgian opposition seeks UN protection of country’s children’s rights

A Georgian opposition party has criticized the country’s educational standards and said it has made an official request for a UN probe into the children’s rights in the country.

One of the leaders of the Georgian Labor party, Iosif Shatberashvili, told a press conference on Thursday that the Georgian authorities were violating children’s rights to education.

“Some 1,200 out of 3,000 schools are closed, and about 20,000 teachers have been fired,” the Russian news agency Interfax quoted Shatberashvili as saying. He also said that people in Georgia cannot afford textbooks, school stationery or even school uniforms and footwear for their children. Rising transport costs also limit children’s right to education, because some parents cannot afford to send their children to school, he said.

He added that his party had already filed an official appeal to the UN Committee for Children’s Rights and requested that the international body send a delegation to Georgia to assess whether children’s rights are being upheld.

Also on Thursday, former Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze said that his country’s attempts to ban or limit the use of the Russian language in the country would lead to sanctions from the international community.

The Georgia Online internet news agency quoted the former president as saying that the incumbent president, Mikhail Saakashvili, has repeatedly insulted the Russian people in his public speeches and media statements, banned Russian language films and called people who visited Moscow traitors. “Unfortunately, we will be punished for this but this punishment will not be only for one man, the whole country will be punished,” Shevardnadze said.

The retired politician added that the Georgian regime was on the wrong track as it was not bringing about development or improving life for its people. He said he had to retire as the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union when it started to show similar traits.

Shevardnadze earlier warned that if Russian-Georgian relations continue to develop in the direction they are going now, the next Georgian president would not be able to understand Russian. He said that when Georgia’s leaders were still talking to him, he always said that he was possibly one of the last Georgian leaders who could quote the great Russian poets and writers and if the new Georgian president spoke no Russian at all, this would be very bad.

Shevardnadze said that the people of the two countries must communicate despite the political difficulties; the two peoples must not lose each other.

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