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Georgian prisoners barred from reading2012-07-03 18:27
Georgian human rights activists complain that of censorship in Georgian prisons. Any information unwanted for the government and related to political or economic events in the country, gets to the institutions of the Ministry of Penitentiary and Probation Service of Georgia. The problems between the Ministry and the media started in late 2011.
Recently, the press was informally but strictly prohibited to get into prison in any form. Inmates complain that earlier they could buy a newspaper in kiosks, and now even the relatives cannot hand them social and political editions. But when a foreign delegation visits the jail, in kiosks there appear all sorts of press, of course, forbidden for the prisoners.
The Ministry of Corrections say with confidence that there are nowhere in the world such knowledgeable inmates as in Georgia. The question arises - why did these prisoners get so interested in obtaining political information?
Ex-prisoner: "Today the Georgian prison reminds me a ghetto and concentration camp, and the Minister Kalmakhelidze - Goebbels. Prisoners are being beaten and tortured. How many prisoners have died in prison no one knows, and every year their number increases. Who manages to stand this torture, he leaves prison insane. They think that if newspapers are not available, the prisoners have no information; even in contrary".
Givi Lagidze, a Georgian citizen: "If the prisoner do not get the newspapers, do you think they do not know what's going on outside? What does the government think? They realize that they are garbage; but they won't reign for ever".
The information in the world today is the most effective tool for the government. In this struggle those win in whose hands the means of information are, so the government is trying best to control the media. It knows what power the information possesses, and therefore they have decided to brick up all the cracks, and right during the election period.
By law, inmates in Georgia have the right to vote. Exhausted, living in intolerable conditions, the prisoners are well-informed and pose a threat to government, preparing for the elections.
Since 2003, the government makes every possible way to make the prisoners and their families to vote in their favor. Early release of the convicted person may happen, if his family collects hundreds of signatures.
We got concerned of a ban on the press in prison and appealed to the press service of the Department of Corrections. Spokesman Tea Sukhishvili at first asked to give her time to clarify the issue. Later she said that the media was freely distributed in prisons.
Tea Sukhishvili: "There really appear all sorts of books and newspapers", she answered.
In Gldani prison we were told that only the "Georgian Post" sent the press there, since the prison is closed institution. Then we visited Ortachaly prison, where the persons who committed relatively minor offenses are serving their terms. The prison is called "Eden" for good conditions unlike other prisons.
Employees of "Eden" told us that inmates could only have magazines about sports or religion, as well as crossword puzzles. And the inmates ask other press, especially the political ones.