Georgians' rights violated in rebel Abkhazia: report
Authorities in the Russian-backed region of Abkhazia regularly violate the rights of the ethnic Georgian minority living there, Human Rights Watch said Friday.
Some 47,000 Georgians returned to live in Abkhazia after its 1990s war for independence, but the current separatist government often breaches their rights to freedom of movement, education and economic activity, the rights group said in a report.
"The rights of ethnic Georgian returnees to Abkhazia are hostage to nearly two decades of political conflict," the campaign group said in a statement.
Moscow recognised Abkhazia's independence after the 2008 Georgia-Russia war, but this was only followed by three other countries and Tbilisi considers the region "occupied" by thousands of Russian troops permanently stationed there.
Human Rights Watch said Abkhazia makes it difficult for ethnic Georgians to cross over into government-controlled territory to trade or visit relatives, and created barriers to children's education in the Georgian language.
Georgians also have to acquire Abkhaz passports or face problems with employment, business transactions, political rights and education, the report said.
More than 200,000 people fled Abkhazia during the civil war, creating a huge refugee problem in Georgia which still continues.
But although tens of thousands have since been allowed to go back to their homes in Abkhazia's impoverished Gali district, the Moscow-backed Abkhaz authorities currently oppose any further return of refugees.
© 2011 AFP