In October and November 2012,within the framework of its pro-gramme ““Supporting the repatria-tion of persons deported fromGeorgia in the 1940s and their de-scendants”, ACF organised 2 Go-and-See visits to Georgia for po-tential Meskhetian repatriates liv-ing in Azerbaijan. All 17 partici- pants in these visits have receivedthe repatriate status document andthe visits allow them to make aninformed decision regarding futurereturn to Georgia.During each visit the participantswere able to visit regions in Geor-gia where other Meskhetian fami-lies are residing, discuss repatria-tion issues with national and re-gional government officials andmeet with Meskhetian organiza-tions working in Georgia. An ad-ditional benefit of these visits wasthat, on their return, participantswere requested to inform other applicants of their experience andthe information that they have re-ceived. This process builds uponexisting informational services thatare being implemented within theframework of the programme.The European Centre for MinorityIssues (ECMI) is working in part-nership with ACF on this pro-gramme and facilitated a meetingin Tbilisi for the participants,which was attended by governmentrepresentatives from the MRA, theMinistry of Justice and the Na-tional Security Council. Thegroups also met with Meskhetianorganizations that are working inGeorgia to hear their perspectiveon the repatriation process.Later in the visit the groups trav-elled to the villages of Ianeti inSamtredia Municipality and Tsite-lubani in Gori Municipality to meetwith local Meskhetian familieswho were able to share informationon the present situation in Georgia,regarding living conditions andopportunities.Finally the participants visited Ak-haltsikhe and Adigeni Municipali-ties in Samstkhe-Javakheti andvisited their villages of origin. Inthe village of Smada one of the participants located his homewhere he lived before being exiledin 1944 and talked with the familywho are now living there. Theexperience was very emotional andhe told to the ACF representativeshis story:
Account of Meybiyev Dilavar from Smada
village of Saatli region in Azerbaijan
(people gave the names of their old villages inGeorgia to the locations they settled in Azerbaijan) Dilavar was 11 years old in 1944 whenhe was deported from Georgia along with his mother, brother and sister. His father and his 4 brothers were away at the war at the time and never returned.The family were resettled in Kyr- gyzstan and life was extremely difficult but they survived due to hard work.The first time Dilavar re-visited hisvillage in Georgia was in 1978, having obtained, with great difficulty, the per-mission pass to enter the Akhaltsikhe zone (during the Soviet times it was forbidden to visit the bordering regions). He found his home in whicha Georgian family now live. Theowner welcomed Dilavar and invited him in, and Dilavar stayed a few daysvisiting the neighbouring forests and villages. No more Meskhetians lived inthe area. The Georgian host offered to share his land plot and to build a newhouse there for Dilavar and his 5 sons,but Dilavar refused the offer, saying that he will get a new land plot for himself. In the late 80’s Dilavar and his familymoved to Azerbaijan. The second timehe came to Smada village to visit hishouse was in 2000. His Georgian host from the previous visit had died but his son also welcomed Dilavar.The “Go and See” visit was the third time that Dilavar has seen his old home and village. During the time hewas there he filled plastic bottles withwater from the local spring in the vil-lage and the Georgian family living inhis old home again welcomed him, and helped him to pick apples from theorchard – the water and apples were tobe taken back for family members and villagers in Azerbaijan.
ACF intends to run a further 6 “Goand See” visits from Azerbaijan inthe coming months as well as 1visit from Turkey and 1 from Kyr-gyzstan. It is planned that 90 peo- ple will attend these visits.