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Georgian women-prisoners to embark on hunger strike14.03.2011 | 20:05
Georgian women-prisoners are going to embark on hunger strike in the nearest days. They complain about the unbearable living conditions in prisons. While Minister for the Execution of Sentences Khatuna Kalmakhelidze is trying to build "Euro-zones" in the country, human right activists and experts are telling horrible stories about the situation on the other side of the prison fence. Leader of the Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights non-governmental organization Nana Kakabadze stated her intention to support the protest action of the convicted women in an interview to GeorgiaTimes.
Otar Rogava, one of the figurants of the notorious Enver's case, a recent spy scandal in Georgia, never got free. The prisoner was seriously ill and died several days ago. Rogava was arrested last summer and since then, only the few relatives inquired after him. Unlike some other figurants of the spy scandal framed up by Georgian special services, Rogava had no Russian citizenship, so his story presented no interest to the media. No one remembered about the seriously ill man and the news about his death reached the journalists due to human rights defender Eka Beselia.
However, not only the political prisoners' situation remains hard. Human right defenders weekly report new horrible stories about "common" zeks.
The prison hospital at the pre-trial detention facility in Gldani, one of Tbilisi regions, has long since acquired the evil fame of an "office" of the Georgian "inquisition". Human right defenders cannot see what's going on in the wards through the thick window grate but it is from this building that the bodies of those who were absolutely well before getting in prison are carried out. One of such cases is the story of a prisoner whose second name was Tsintsbadze. Prison doctors pronounced suicide but hardly anyone believed it, for he was a mentally sane man before getting in prison. The case was submitted to the European Human Rights Court. An objective investigation proved that Tsintsbadze died from tortures. The Georgian state lost the process; however, few such cases out of several hundreds reach the European court.
According to oppositionist and human right defender Eka Beselia, the facts of tortures at the medical treatment facility at Gldani isolation ward have been documented many times but there was naturally no reaction.
Together with her associates, Beselia is trying to help Georgian prisoners in every way but sometimes her help brings more problems to convicts, like in a story of a prisoner named Tsiklauri. He has got the first degree of disablement. He tried to defend his rights with help of the human right activists and was beaten up by order of the prison administration. The situation was not left unnoticed: his wounds were recorded by independent expertise and the case was submitted to the court. The story became widely known but the majority of prisoners do not want to be on Tsiklauri's place and become popular due to beating and maiming.
The imprisoned women are going to embark on hunger strike not only because of beating and violence in the Georgian prisons. They want to pay attention to the unbearable living conditions there. Very often, there are not enough plank-beds and women have to sleep right on the floor. In most prisons, it is absolutely impossible to practice hygiene. Besides, according to human right defenders, women are physically maimed as often as men.
The situation is commented to GeorgiaTimes by head of NGO Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights Nana Kakabadze.
"Presently, we know of the women's desire to embark on hunger strike and of their demands. They've got two demands: to improve living conditions and reconsider some prisoners' cases. They believe that the cases of some of them have been framed up and there are women who were sentenced to unjustifiably long terms of imprisonment. It is so far unknown whether the protest action will be held. The point is that these women are seriously pressed by the administration of the facilities they are kept in. But even if the action is prevented, the situation is getting out of control, anyway, because more and more prisoners demand reconsideration of cases and state openly that their cases were framed up", - Nana Kakabadze said.
Minister of Probation and Execution of Sentences Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, as well as her bosses, is perfect at PR-actions. She can very convincingly dwell for hours on the construction of new prisons and the decent living conditions there but in reality, Georgian zones resemble the prisons of eastern tyranny.
The regime has been much tightened of late because of an unforeseen incident. One of the prisoners, a former attorney, sent an SMS-message to Minister of Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili right from the prison. No one knew what he wrote but there was a loud scandal at the Ministry of the Execution of Sentences, for it turned out that some prisoners may use mobile communication. Measures were taken instantly and several officers of the ministry and the prison were dismissed.