Massive Attack pull out of gig in Georgia in solidarity with protesters

Massive Attack pull out of gig in Georgia in solidarity with protesters

British band Massive Attack have pulled out of a concert in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, in protest against the government’s “attack on basic human rights”.

The decision to cancel the performance at the Black Sea Arena was first announced by organisers, who claimed that it had been made due to “unforeseen circumstances”.

In a statement issued a few hours later on Wednesday, the trip-hop band clarified that they feared appearing in Georgia would be seen as an endorsement of the country’s political leadership.

Hundreds of thousands of people have massed outside Georgia’s parliament in recent months to protest against a “foreign agents” law. It obliges media and civil society organisations with over 20% of their revenues from abroad to register as “organisations serving the interests of a foreign power”.

The legislation has been described by Brussels as an obstacle to Georgia’s accession to the European Union. The US state department has also raised its concerns that the “Kremlin-inspired law” is evidence that the country’s government is realigning with Moscow three decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Those protesting against the law have been seized off the streets and political opponents have been beaten by both police officers and unidentified gangs.

Critics at home and abroad have been further alarmed this month by a draft law that would prevent same-sex marriages from being registered and ensure that only “heterosexuals” could adopt children.

At the same time, references to LGBTQ+ people would be erased from public spaces under the draft legislation, and schools would be banned from making available information that supposedly “promotes belonging to the opposite sex, same-sex relations or incest”.

In their statement, Massive Attack said that they could not continue with the concert due to take place on 28 July.

They wrote: “At this moment, performing at the state-owned Black Sea Arena could be seen as an endorsement of their violent crackdown against peaceful protests and civil society.

“Beatings, arrests, threats and violence against peaceful protesters, activists and opponents, along with laws smearing civil society and denying LGBTI rights, go against everything we stand for.”

The Bristol band added that they stood in “solidarity with peaceful protesters in Georgia defying state violence and feel that it is their voices that need to be heard and their struggle that needs to be under the international spotlight”.

Organisers of the event said ticket holders would be refunded.