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Hunger strike continues in Geguti prison

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Wednesday, February 12
The situation at Geguti prison became tense when after several days on a hunger strike, dozens of inmates were taken to hospital. Allegedly, they inflicted injuries on their bodies in protest. However, the relatives of the convicts who have been waiting outside the penitentiary facility think the inmates may have been mistreated by the penitentiary staff.

Office of the Public Defender of Georgia has ordered the monitoring of the situation at the Geguti colony, where over 800 convicts have been on hunger strike for over a week. Accusing the prison administration of violence, they all demanded the dismissal of the director.

Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili has commented on the situation of the prison, saying all facts and incidents should be investigated. Nanuashvili said if the inmates made injuries themselves the cause leading to that condition should be identified. In addition, Nanuashvili called on the relatives of the convicts not to release unconfirmed reports about the situation inside the prison, because in most cases, they turn out untrue.

He said the public defender’s office is studying all the reports they receive from the prison and added that any case of violation of the prisoners’ rights should be investigated.

Head of Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), Kakha Kozhoridze, said the prison administration should listen to the convicts and treat their problems more carefully, however, in many cases, the convicts’ demands cannot be satisfied as they exceed the legal framework.

The leader of the NGO Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights, Nana Kakabadze, has also called out for an immediate investigation. Kakabadze said that the idea, as if the processes inside the prisons were controlled from the outside by political forces is absurd, because no behavior like inflicting injuries to themselves can be controlled from anybody outside the prison. However, Kakabadze does not rule out that the prisoners might have been mistreated by the prison administration.

Patrol police crews, security guards, and the relatives of the convicts stay outside the Geguti colony. The situation got tense when the crowd noticed an emergency ambulance at the prison gate. They wanted more information about the health state of the inmates. The crew of the ambulance explained to them that some of the convicts had health problems due to the previous week’s hunger strike and they would be transferred to hospital for proper treatment.