Every year on the 3rd of May, we celebrate World Press Freedom Day – a day when we reaffirm our commitment to the fundamental principles of press freedom, and remember those who sacrificed their lives to give a voice to the voiceless and support the universal freedom of expression.
Almost seventy years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed the right of every person “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. The Universal Declaration proclaimed the right of journalists to seek and spread truth, expose injustice and keep governments accountable. This right, which ought to be obvious and universal, was damaged and stifled for decades in Georgia, as the Soviet regime perceived journalists and press as dangerous weapons. Freedom of expression was taken away from them, and those who dared to fight the regime were punished severely.
The situation changed dramatically with the collapse of the Soviet Union – Georgia gained independence, but even basic and universal institutions were yet to be created, with civil war and military conflicts aiming to silence those who desired to raise their voice in pursuit of truth and justice.
This day also has a special importance for me: my grandfather, Alexander Berulava, was one of those who sacrificed their life in the name of truth. During the military conflict in Abkhazia, he was one of the few journalists who, despite threats and harassments, intended to create a balanced and neutral view describing the war situation in Abkhazia. Despite his position, he was attacked, kidnapped and tortured. After his release, he was not broken – he continued his quest for truth. On the 27th of September, he was murdered during the siege of Sukhumi with other members of the Cabinet of Abkhazia. His actions – those of a journalist who, despite circumstances, always serves the truth – shall always serve as an example for me.
George Melashvili – Georgia
My name is George, I am a Young European Ambassador from Georgia. I work for the Europe-Georgia Institute (EGI), an independent, non-partisan think tank in Georgia that I founded, and I am also the head of the ‘Youth’ Initiative, a youth civil movement under the patronage of the President of Georgia. In addition, I am a lecturer at the School of Diplomacy of the Free University and the winner of the MLOW contest held by the United Nations Academic Impact and ELS Inc.
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