The head of the Armenian Community of Georgia, Artur Mirzoyan, has said he was attacked in the street near his home in Tbilisi, three days before Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.
Mirzoyan claimed that on Friday evening, he was attacked by three masked people, two of whom beat him while a third filmed.
‘They pushed me to the ground, they deliberately hit me in the head, back, and stomach area, they beat me. I also defended myself, I was able to get up, I tried to get away. At this time, [they ripped] my shirt and jacket. When they realised that they couldn’t catch me anymore, they ran away,' Mirzoyan said in a video uploaded to Facebook.
Mirzoyan said he believed the attack was related to his work.
It came three days before Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, marked annually on 24 April. Mirzoyan drew attention to the fact that his organisation had organised a march in Tbilisi to take place on Sunday and Monday in connection with the 108th anniversary of the genocide.
Speaking to TV Pirveli on Saturday, Mirzoyan accused ‘representatives of the government’ of preventing the demonstration for several years.
‘[The attackers] had the goal of beating me so that I would not hold a torchlight march to the Turkish embassy on 23–24 April’, he said. ‘Since 2016, there have been attempts by government officials to prevent this protest near the Turkish embassy.’
Recognition of the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 as genocide has been fiercely opposed by Turkey.
The Armenian Community of Georgia was registered in 2008, but according to their website, the group has been active since 2004. The group’s goal is to defend the rights of ethnic Armenians in Georgia.