French singers hold solidarity concert in Georgia
Jane Birkin, MC Solar and other French music stars held a solidarity concert for Georgian refugees from the breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on Wednesday.
"People and the media have short memories. We've come to sing here against such indifference," Jane Birkin told journalists ahead of the concert held on Georgia's Independence Day.
"Mikvarkar (I love you)," she told a cheering crowd of some 10,000 locals and refugees gathered at central square of Zugdidi, near the administrative border with Abkhazia.
Georgia's two regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, broke away from the rest of country with Russian assistance in the 1990s in ethnic wars that killed several thousand people and forced hundreds of thousands of Georgians to flee their homes.
In 2008 Georgia and Russia fought brief but bloody war over South Ossetia. Russia then recognised the both regions' independence in a move followed by only handful of countries.
Organised by French NGOs, SOS Racism and the Union of Jewish Students of France, the concert was aimed at "expressing French civil society's solidarity" with the Georgian refugees.
"Today nearly 400,000 refugees from these occupied and 'cleaned' provinces live in Georgia and abroad. These Georgian citizens ask Europe for help. It is the honour of Europe and of the Europeans to answer to their desire," the organisers said in a written statement.
Before the concert, refugees, French musicians Jane Birkin, MS Solar and Youssoufa as well as Grammy-winner Youssou n'Dour from Senegal marched to a bridge at the demarcation line between Abkhazia and Georgia.
"My message is to all European politicians that the Georgian refugees must not be forgotten," Jane Birkin told AFP.
"Maybe artists also can change things, maybe songs can change things."
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who attended the concert, told AFP it was "an important event to Georgia as it shows that the world stands by us."
© 2010 AFP