A protest rally, sparked following release of shocking videos of prisoners’ abuse, has called for resignation of some senior government officials.
Protesters, who reconvened by noon on Wednesday outside the Philharmonic Hall in downtown Tbilisi after holding a similar spontaneous rally last night, are now marching on Rustaveli Avenue towards the government’s office.
Before moving towards the government’s office close to the Freedom Square, protesters heard a joint statement by a group of Georgian civil society organizations calling for a resignation of Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili, Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia, who was prison system chief in 2005-2008 and chief prosecutor Murtaz Zodelava.
The statement says that the cases of inhuman treatment of prisoners shown on released videos were part of “systematic problem” persisting in the penitentiary for years. It says that apart of those prison officials who have been identified on released video footage and who have already been arrested, culpability of head of penitentiary, who has been sacked, as well as of ex-minister in charge of prison system and of the chief prosecutor should be raised, because it would have been impossible to commit such “systemic and mass human rights violations” without their involvement.
The statement has been signed by over a dozen organizations, among them: Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA); International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED); Transparency International Georgia; Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF).
The statement also calls for “raising political responsibility of the Justice Minister; Interior Minister and Chief Prosecutor”. It also calls for an impartial and effective investigation of all the previous cases of prisoners’ abuse. The statement also calls for securing safety of those persons and their family members, who have helped to obtain and disseminate videos of prisoners’ abuse.