This week in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, a brutal video was leaked showing a group of prison officers taking turns beating and then raping prisoners using a broom. We sent a Georgian photographer over there and got his appraisal of the...
This week in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, a brutal video was leaked showing a group of prison officers taking turns beating and then raping prisoners using a broom. Peep it below:
The video was aired on national television (presumably on whatever Georgia's equivalent of Good Morning America is) and unsurprisingly made a lot of people very angry. In fact, there was so much anger that the president Mikheil Saakashvili accepted the resignation of his interior minister Bacho Akhalaia and suspended the country's entire prison security staff.
Police were drafted in to fill the void, but since the video was aired, thousands of people have been gathering in the capital city Tbilisi to demand further action and widespread reforms to the prison system. Their call for action seems to have been heeded, as days later Saakashvili announced that Georgia's human rights ombudsman, Giorgi Tugushi, was taking over as prison minister.
He promised a "complete overhaul" of the prison system, but the crowds were still not placated and continued their protests into this week, something the opposition parties have pounced on in the run up to next week's election.
We sent a young Georgian photographer, Giorgi Nebieridze, down to the protests to see what's been going on and he gave his appraisal of the situation: "I personally would commit suicide if I'd even been charged with the threat of a short-time imprisonment. There are outrageous types of torture going on: the guards have been removing teeth, amputating limbs, starving people, and psychologically abusing them.
"It is the biggest horror that a person like me can imagine, especially because you could wind up in prison just for smoking pot. I have a friend who has to spend 26 years in the exact jail where the torture videos were filmed just for getting caught with several drops of LSD on him. I know this sounds insane, but it is pure truth."
Which, as well as being very unjust, also makes us think it might be wise to delay the opening of our Georgia bureau for a while.
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