Today marks the birthday of Zhiuli Shartava, Georgia's national hero and a most prominent political figure and statesman of our time.
The finest representative of his generation and a true son of his homeland, Shartava, with his exceptional honor, patriotism, and education, fought to the last to ensure unity between Georgians and Abkhazians.
"With even one person like him, Georgia is destined to survive," these words from a letter to His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II belong to an unspecified Abkhazian who witnessed Zhiuli Shartava's heroic feats.
Zhiuli Shartava's steadfastness and self-sacrifice for his homeland are an example to be followed by all of us and our future generations.
Glory to our heroes!
Prime Minister of Georgia
The Sukhumi massacre took place on September 27, 1993, during and after the fall of Sukhumi into separatist hands in the course of the War in Abkhazia. It was perpetrated against Georgian civilians of Sukhumi, mainly by militia forces of Abkhaz separatists, their North Caucasian and Russian allies. It became part of a violent ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by the separatists.
On September 27, 1993, separatist forces violated the ceasefire initiated by the United Nations and guaranteed by the Russian Federation, which barred both sides from performing military operations. As part of the ceasefire, Georgian forces had withdrawn their heavy artillery and tanks from Sukhumi. Abkhaz, Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus, Cossack and Russian militants stormed Sukhumi early in the morning. Confronted by large numbers of combatants, the Georgian army units that remained in the city were unable to prevent the separatist advance into the city. By noon, separatist militants and their allies had taken over television buildings and bridges. Georgian forces retreated to the Government building of the Abkhazian Autonomous Republic, where they intended to provide security for members of Abkhazian Autonomous Republic Government. By late afternoon, the city was overrun by separatists and their allies.
Placing their hopes on the ceasefire, a large number of civilians remained in the city. The separatists and their allies started to sweep through the streets of Sukhumi rounding up all civilians that they found. Men, women and children were executed in the streets, on the roads and inside their own apartments, houses and back yards. According to the witnesses, many people became objects of torture, and some were forced to watch as their own family members were killed—children in front of their parents, and parents in front of their children.
Women became targets of sadistic rape. Refugees recall people being burned to death, disembowelled and dismembered while still alive. The massacres occurred in the city park, in front of the governmental building, in schools and hospitals. Almost all members of the Abkhaz government (those who refused to leave the city), Zhiuli Shartava, Guram Gabiskiria, Mamia Alasania, and Raul Eshba were captured and executed.