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Public Defender’s Monitoring Group Confirmed That Political Prisoners Were on Hunger Strike

11.12.2009
Ana Sheshaberidze

Public Defender’s Office confirms that prisoners were on hunger-strike for three days. Ministry of Penitentiary, Legal Aid and Probation denied the information till the last day.

Controversial information was spread about hunger-strike of prisoners lately. Lawyer Gela Nikolaishvili stated that 35 prisoners started hunger-strike in various detention settings on December 8 for three days – their protest was connected with the International Day of Human Rights on December 10. 19 accused for Mukhrovani mutiny, member of the Egalitarian Institute Levan Gogichaishvili, supporters of Igor Giorgadze (former security minister of Georgia) – Zaza Davitaia, Temur Zhorzholiani and others went on hunger-strike. On December 8, three more prisoners joined the hunger-strike – they are Mamuka Shengelia, member of the Democratic Movement for United Georgia, Melor Vachnadze and military expert Vakhtang Maisia who was imprisoned for espionage.

The Ministry of Penitentiary, Legal Aid and Probation denied the information till the last day. Representatives of the public relations department of the Ministry stated they had checked the information several times but it turned out to be false.

Public Defender’s Office decided to check the information about hunger-strike. Representatives of the monitoring department of the Public Defender’s Office visited Tbilisi Prison N 8 and Rustavi Prison N 2. They confirmed that prisoners really were on hunger strike in Tbilisi prison N 8 though they had not warned prison administration about it.

Members of the monitoring group visited Rustavi prison N 2 on December 11 where several prisoners confirmed that they were on hunger-strike. However, they were going to stop protest on December 12.

The aim of the hunger-strike was to attract attention of international organizations on the International Day of Human Rights.

Supporters of Igor Giorgadze were on strike in Rustavi prison. In their conversation with the representatives of the public defender’s office, Teimuraz Zhorzholiani and Zaza Davitaia confirmed that they had not informed the prison administration about their decision.

Lawyer of Vakhtang Talakhadze Maia Eloshvili spread special appeal to foreign embassies and representations of international organizations in Georgia, non-governmental organizations and political unions about the fact. According to her, inmates of Rustavi prison informed prison administration that they were going to start hunger-strike but since the government got astonished with their decision, the notification of prisoners was not registered.

Extract from Maia Eloshvili’s appeal: “Government of Georgia was so concerned by the fact that prison administrations did not register the notifications of political prisoners about hunger-strike. On December 10, penitentiary department denied hunger-strike of political prisoners. I would like to state that 7 political prisoners are on hunger-strike in Rustavi Prison N 2. 1. Teimuraz Zhorzholiani; 2. Vakhtang Talakhadze, 3. Zaza Davitaia’ 4. Revaz Bulia; 5 Iakob Kvinikadze; 6. Ramaz Samnidze; 7. Amiran Kadagishvili. The following prisoners are on hunger strike in Rustavi prison N 6: 8. Giorgi Metreveli; 9. Kakhaber Kantaria; 10. Guram Papukashvili, 11. Varlam Galdava.

According to our information, the government intends to oppress political prisoners who are on hunger-strike and move them to the prison with severe regime. Any kind of oppression on political prisoners by the government will be evaluated as a blatant violation of human rights that will be followed by peaceful but radical actions of family members and lawyers of the prisoners and human rights defenders.

We hope, before December 16, when Council of Europe intends to discuss the issue of political prisoners in Georgia, the government of Georgia will be sensible enough to release every political prisoner and stop political repressions in the country. Otherwise, we will enjoy our rights guaranteed by international law and start extreme forms of protest.”

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