TBILISI, 20 November 2023 – Today, the Head of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM), Dimitrios Karabalis, attended a premiere of the documentary film “The Legacy of Muhajirs – Abkhazians from Adjara” at the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. The film was directed by Lela Kunchulia, a journalist from the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the winner of the 2022 EUMM Special Prize for Peace Journalism. The production of the documentary was financially sponsored through the EUMM Peace Prize 2022 award. The event, co-organised by the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), hosted more than 60 academic staff, journalists, students and experts.
The film is a portrait of Neriman, a young Muslim woman who lives in Adjara. Neriman is a descendant of the Abkhaz Muhajirs, which is a name for Muslim people who were forced to flee Abkhazia in the 19th century due to political reasons. Her personal story shows how Abkhaz traditions are still followed in her family and their village in Adjara, 150 years after her ancestors arrived in the region. It also shows how the Muslim community has lived peacefully, side by side, with fellow Adjarians.
Prior to the screening, the Head of EUMM addressed the audience: “I believe it is important to tell such stories where empathy and respect prevail over hate speech towards anything that is – or may even only look – different. Because conflicts and wars very often start with framing anything unknown or foreign as ‘the other,’ as ‘the enemy.’ Respecting ethnic and religious diversity is therefore very important, since it not only makes us richer as humans and societies, but also leads to a more sustainable peace,” said Dimitrios Karabalis during his welcoming speech.
He highlighted that contributing to peace and stability in Georgia is the main goal of EUMM. “That is why we support authors and journalists who share the same values and who work towards the same goals.”
The EUMM Special Prize for Peace Journalism is one of eight categories of the EU Prize for Journalism, organised by the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia. Since 2013, EUMM has been awarding this Prize to honour independent, conflict-sensitive journalism which contributes to confidence building and lasting peace in Georgia.
Following the premiere screening, a discussion with the director and experts enabled the audience to share views and experience on the topics of Abkhaz muhajirs, ethnic and religious diversity, and reconciliation among divided communities.