Yemeni journalists learn about Georgian media experience [Archives:2008/1157/Local News]

May 22 2008

SANA'A, May 20 ) Beso Makharashvili, a journalist from the Republic of Georgia currently doing research in Yemen, gave a presentation to a number of Yemeni journalists on the media in Georgia and the journalists' role in the Rose Revolution in 2003. The presentation, which was organized by Yemen Times and the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, described how the journalists stood up to corrupt regimes initiated the mass call for freedom.

Reporters from around the world went to the Georgian Republic in 2003 to cover the revolution, where tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets – yet not one person was killed or injured. Makharashvili showed pictures of the events and how the citizens gave roses to the soldiers who eventually dropped their weapons and let the inevitable change happen. Georgia, which was briefly an independent country after the Russian Revolution of 1918, was later incorporated into Russia and then forced to join the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). After the Rose Revolution of 2003, the country opened its markets to international trade and made sweeping democratic reforms.

“Trust me when I tell you, if it was not for media in Georgia, there would have been no Rose Revolution and no change,” Makharashvili said at the presentation. The journalists asked questions about how the various media organizations, activities and political groups came together for the same cause. He responded that because they shared the same concerns, they understood that they had to behave as one family defending the same cause.

He described the new government as a fairly young one where there are ministers in their twenties. He also shared a local joke in Georgia about the ousted president Eduard Shevardnadze, a man who had ruled Georgia for more than 30 years in total, and how instead of accepting the rose given to him at the Parliament when the revolutionaries stormed into it, he went into another room to drink tea.

Makharashvili was one of the thousands of journalists that took part in reporting the protests in November 2003 in Georgia. He explained that media is still alert even today and this is why there had been a similar protest in November last year when the new presidential elections took place and there were questions about its fairness.

The Yemeni journalists said they were inspired by the presentation praised their colleagues in Georgia, which they hoped would be a source of inspiration to themselves and their country as well.

“Be strong, don't think no one listens to what you say or no one reads what you write,” Makharashvili concluded. “Without credible free media, there can be no development.”