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Georgian prisoner’s letter: “Dear Hatuna, thanks for new teeth”18.11.2010 | 15:33
Minister Hatuna Kalmakhelidze promises free meals, health care and wages to Georgian prisoners. Already now she receives thank-you letters from places of imprisonment that she considers best in the region. What will happen after old penitentiaries are replaced with new ones, TV sets are allowed in cells and hotels are opened for visits of relatives? Then free life will seem a nightmare and nobody will object to total police paradise in Georgia. Certainly if dear lady is not lying, as usual.
Recently a group of corrupt high-ranking officials from the ministry of environment was arrested in Georgia. They will have to serve a long term - with comfort. As minister for punishment execution Hatuna Kalmakhelidze stated recently, the government applies best efforts to make imprisonment as pleasant as possible.
"We are currently solving the food issue, there are shops in all prisons where prisoners can buy foodstuffs at low prices", - the minister said.
According to her, medical care in prisons will be improved too. Now dentists not only take teeth out, they started curing them (o, what a surprise!). "All kinds of dental treatment are introduced, there are queues before dentists' rooms. I often receive thank-you letters from prisoners who had their teeth cured free of charge, which for some of them was unaffordable in free life", - the minister is proud.
After a statement like this many in Georgia will want to get to prison for a while, since nobody except for children under 3 years old have free medical care. One must buy a medical insurance that is expensive for many. Only prisons live in communist paradise: from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.
Kalmakhelidze also reminded of construction of buildings for long meetings now underway in the country. From 2011 "videomeetings" will be introduced - 8 per year, and number one novelty: half-open prisons! Prisoners will be able to earn money under an employment program and buy TV sets to cells.
According to the minister, presently already 80% of Georgian prisoners are kept in conditions compliant with European standards. This is the best index in the region. As Kalmakhelidze promised, "the situation in prisons will improve further on, but they must not become similar to health resorts".
Accordingly, many reasonable people in Georgia ask a question: when did Hatuna last pay a visit to a prison? Her description of prison reality is too rose-colored.
Georgi Tsagareishvili, an opposition deputy, has different information. At a recent briefing he stated: "Thanks to the National Movement prisons in Georgia now look like "Kvarkvare prison" with people suffering catastrophic conditions" of insanitariness, overload, rise in AIDS and tuberculosis sickness rate. The parliamentarian also named several prisoners that were severely beaten in one of the colonies.
The worst thing is that prisons are not accessible for deputy control. Speaker David Bakradze that could assist Tsagareishvili's visit to a problem colony, refused to do that advising him to turn to an ad-hoc parliamentary monitoring group. The deputy is sure that doing this the head of parliament "covers up lawlessness in prisons".
Nana Kakabadze, Former Political Prisoners - For Human Rights NGO leader, does not trust the happy picture Kalmakhelidze presents.
Not only minister Kalmakhelidze, but the whole government adores making showy promises. But when things come to life, they are either aimed against citizens, or serve as facades to hide unattractive reality, - the rights defender stated in an interview with GeorgiaTimes. - The biggest problem Georgia's prison system is currently facing is inhuman treatment of prisoners from the administration. Even if they build golden jails, this will lead to nothing. Since moral and mental humiliation and destruction of people, beatings, tortures are so depressing to the prisoners that they seldom think about all other things (that they serve an illegal term or that they were convicted by non-free, non-independent judges).
Now prisoners have shops to buy expired foodstuffs in. As a result people get poisoned. Besides, prices are high, and prisoners can rarely afford that. Still, to a casual observer everything seems to be fine, indeed: shops for prisoners to choose food from. Though a prisoner is not entitled to come up to see the goods and buy them. This all is done by supervisors.
Everything that has been done up to now has been directed against prisoners. They don't need video meetings, they need normal meetings, like in the Soviet time, long meetings too. They met with relatives for two or three days, and families were preserved, wives could see their husbands, children could see their parents. There was such a possibility. Now all this is abolished. What will these videomeetings give? At a real meeting children want to feel their parents, and parents want to hug their kids.
If someone says there are no such meetings in the West, we know prisoners are given holidays outside prison there.