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40 inmates on hunger strike at Ksani prison

By Ana Robakidze
Friday, September 28
40 inmates from Ksani prison have gone on hunger strike demanding a meeting with new Prison Minister Giorgi Tughushi.

As has been widely reported inmates suffering from AIDS and tuberculosis have been kept in unbearable conditions and without proper medical treatment. Even the Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II has called on the government to pay proper attention to prisoners, especially to those who suffer with severe illnesses.

“I hope everything will improve with God’s help. I have written many epistles on this issue, I have many times visited prisons, asked if they were under pressure, tortured, they didn’t say anything like this, maybe out of fear. There are people ill with tuberculosis, AIDS, there is a threat of spreading illness, that’s why critically ill people should be sent home, to be treated”, Patriarch said.

The prisoners on strike are those who have been placed in very severe conditions. As Nana Kakabadze, defender of human rights, stated in an interview with newspaper Rezonansi, inmates need urgent help in order to get proper treatment. She deeply regrets that neither the Public Defender’s Office nor the Prison Minister have reacted so far. “When you see that prisoners who are suffering with AIDS or tuberculosis start a hunger strike, it should be obvious that something is seriously wrong there.” Kakabadze averred. Kakabadze added that inmates’ health conditions are really disturbing and without proper medical treatment they will die.

The strikers have sent their message for help to several human rights organizations, but the majority of them are not allowed to enter Ksani Prison and monitor the situation. They have also contacted Keti Bekauri, who is a well-known human rights defender.

Bekauri is not surprised that the strike has started, “Those who have been accused of torture are still working in prisons and are still threatening inmates there.” she said in her interview with Rezonansi. She also revealed that several inmates have started a hunger strike in Rustavi prison and Tsotne Gamsaxurdia (son of the ex-president Zviad Gamsaxurdia), who is imprisoned at Gldani, has been on strike for the last 20 days.

Georgian law requires releasing all prisoners immediately who are suffering from incurable diseases. Bekauri claims that the commission established to ensure proper health conditions in Georgian prisons has not done its job properly.