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World literature attacking Saakashvili2010-09-15 18:15
International Pen Club writers tried to make Georgian president ashamed. In their open letter they criticize the break-up of a peaceful protest action arranged by three Georgian poets who "renamed" George Bush Street into Walt Whitman Street using black paint in August. The poets were detained and fined. The amount of fine seems to be absurd for the civilized world. Besides, one of the poets joined the ranks of unemployed. Pen Club is indignant at the Georgian courts and employers' unfairness.
Words are not always as effective as a police baton or material punishment, and the latter seems to produce a greater effect in the "poets-government" duel in Georgia.
Irakly Kakabadze, who is famous for his freethinking and pacifism, together with his associates had to pay for the action in Bush Street. He only wanted to stress that no one should bow to such military ideologist as the former US leader. Better recite lyrics. There were bruises on the poet's shoulder after it was "patted" by the gallant Georgian patrols. Besides, each poet was fined and one of them even lost his job. The advocacy of five local human rights organizations who tried to protect American citizen Kakabadze had no effect.
Georgian "freedom of speech" was a shock for the international Pen Club, of which Irakly Kakabadze is a member. The association of writers, essay writers and novelists composed two reprobative letters and addressed them to Mikheil Saakashvili. The "strong protest" is expressed not only in the name of Pen Club but also on behalf of the Union of Journalists.
The authors of the message do not understand why Irakly Kakabadze, Shota Gagarin and Alexi Chigvinadze were convicted under Article 173 of Administrative Code for "deliberate disobedience to the police". There is a video record, by the way, showing the action and the way its participants obediently get into the car. However, the Georgian court refused to accept this record as evidence for some reason.
The writers are also indignant at the 400-lari fine (about 250 dollars). The civilized world wouldn't charge more than 30 dollars for such tricks and would never put the violators in prison, the letter goes.
"These are well-known poets with an active citizen's position who often use non-violent actions of civil disobedience to show protest. Such peaceful demonstrators are often detained but the trial upon them is unfair, the incidents causing wide resonance not only in Georgia but also among the writers of international community", - the letter says.
The writers are also concerned about the public attitude towards such actions because one of the poets was dismissed in the result of the scandal.