“No to Phobia!” civil society platform would like to respond to the xenophobic statement made by Giorgi Gabunia, host of Mtavari Arkhi TV’s “Post Factum” program, on April 5. In particular, commenting on the TV story concerning genetic analysis to track the spread of coronavirus, the program host made an Armenophobic assessment.
The story involved a discussion related to haplogroups, their resistance to the infection and a hypothetical opinion that people having a Georgian genome may show more resistance to the virus. Giorgi Gabunia made the following comment in this respect:
“So, we already know what foreign scientists think; we have also acquainted you with the opinions of their Georgian colleagues; now, I am waiting for the conclusion of Armenian scientists; I wonder what genetic group our neighbors belong to. I am sure, it will appear that their DNA is stronger than that of Georgians and it actually destructs coronavirus without even needing any vaccine and medicine.”
This statement is Armenophobic and it contributes to stereotypization on ethnic grounds. With this statement by the program host, Mtavari Arkhi TV has violated article 31 of the Code of Conduct for Broadcasters:
“Broadcasters shall refrain from publishing any material likely to incite hatred or intolerance on the grounds of race, language, gender, religious convictions, political opinions, ethnic origin, geographic location, or social background.”
We, the member organizations of “No to Phobia!” platform, believe that amid rising xenophobic sentiments as the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, the media must demonstrate high responsibility not to become the source of xenophobic statements and not to promote xenophobic sentiments wittingly or unwittingly.
Media Development Foundation (MDF)
Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
Human Rights Center (HRC)
Georgia’s Reform Associates (GRASS)
Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA)
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
Transparency International Georgia (TI)