No Place For Hate
Human rights defender Vitaly Safarov was stabbed to death on 30 September, 2018, in Tbilisi while he was leaving the Warszawa bar. The two suspects are accused of intentional murder and a hate-motivated crime.
Vitaly Safarov was a Georgian with Jewish and Yazidi roots. He first got involved in human rights work in 2013 when he became a trainer in a multicultural camp for children in Georgia. He then worked for the Georgian NGO “Centre for Participation and Development” as a trainer of youth programs.
He spoke Russian and was in the company of foreigners when a fight began with the aggressors, which ultimately led to his death. Vitaly was described as “an incredibly warm and caring person, an inspiring mentor to the dozens of children to whom he taught human rights, inter-cultural dialogue and non-discrimination at summer camps. In a recent interview to Sova News, Vitaly’s mother Marina Alanakyan said that children from the summer camps sent him letters saying “We want to be like you”. In his other job as a case manager at the Tbilisi Shelter for human rights defenders, Vitaly became a dear friend to the many activists around the world who visit the shelter for rest and rehabilitation.
Svetlana Anokhina, journalist from Dagestan, who stayed at the Tbilisi shelter commented:
“He took care of me during my three-month stay. When I arrived, I was told: here is Vitaly and he is your case manager. 20 minutes later, he became simply Vito to me. If someone asked what he meant to me and I could not explain, I responded: “Just imagine that you have a younger brother who you would call when you are having Internet connection problems; or if you need to go somewhere but you are too tired; or if you are in a hospital and don’t know who you should turn to; or if you are just feeling bad. Vitaly always responded in such a way to these problems that he would leave you feeling much better”.
“The loss of Vitaly is heartbreaking. He was a very bright, kind, devoted and helpful person who stood for his ideals of a more just, more tolerant world. My deepest condolences go to colleagues, family and friends. There are no words that could alleviate their pain losing such an extraordinary person. It’s a big loss for the Georgian civil society.” Julia Ouahnon, Programme Officer at FIDH who knew Vitaly personaly .
Masha Chichtchenkova from Front Line Defenders also knew Vitaly well, “At Front Line Defenders we were privileged to collaborate with Vitaly Safarov on many projects for human rights defenders at risk. He was especially involved in our work on digital security. He had a deep commitment to working with and for HRDs of all cultures, being himself of Jewish and Yazidi roots. He had a great sense of humour, which was sometimes quite dark, but he always showed incredible kindness and tenderness to people. One of our colleagues referred to him as “Vito, defender of defenders” and that’s exactly who he was.”