Conflict & Justice

Competing claims in Georgia conflict

AN: We started our investigation in a hospital in South Ossetia and they treated 273 wounded and also received 44 bodies, numbers which refer to civilians and military. We also collected many, many testimonies. When we spoke to people in the village we also asked them for specific names. (What are the final numbers of killed?) We don't have final numbers but a range of numbers. I believe we are talking about dozens of civilian casualties. (That's a big difference from the thousands of dead that Moscow is accusing Georgia of.) I believe those claims were made at the beginning of the conflict and given the amount of shelling this town in South Ossetia was subjected to, it was hard to believe that anybody survived. However I do think it was irresponsible to put out such numbers without evidence. (The numbers matter because of accusations of ethnic cleansing. Is there any evidence of ethnic cleansing?) There has been no persecution of ethnic civilians, although some South Ossetians have made disturbing statements, saying that some Georgian villagers were burned so they wouldn't come back. We're concerned about the kind of coverage the conflict was getting because it was unhelpful, both from Georgia and Russia. Foreign journalists have little access to South Ossetia so there was little coverage on what was actually happening there. but we did all we could to make sure there was objective coverage going on.

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