TBILISI, DFWatch – The wave of rallies and demonstrations against torture in the prison system shows no signs of abating in Georgia, as on Monday thousands of youth took to the streets to demonstrate.
The organizers were several youth organizations, and people initially gathered at Tbilisi State University. Students from large universities also joined the event. The message is the same as for the last few days: to stop the torture in Georgian prisons and release people arrested for political reasons.
Events started at 15:00. Two activists expressed protest through a performance: they cut a small part of their bodies with a dagger and wrote ‘I love the police’ on t-shirts with blood. This action was supported by the majority of participants, but was still followed by misunderstanding, as part of the students perceived it is violence against violence.
About twenty minutes later students started a demonstration towards the defense ministry, where they protested against Dimitry Shashkin, the former prison minister, who is now defense minister. They also repeated their demand that Bacho Akhalaia, former defense and interior minister, is punished. He resigned in the wake of the recent events, but is considered to be the main architect behind the torture in Georgian prisons.
From time to time singers performed songs live to cheer up rally participants.
The protesters had three main demands:
1. Punish all people involved in torture of prisoners and stop violence;
2. Stop terror over families, whose members are on the rally, stop terror over society;
3. Media should support rally by broadcasting it objectively.
The demonstration moved to the house of justice, a giant building which was opened a few days ago but is not yet finished.
“Adeishvili in prison,” people shouted, indicating that Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili should be held to account too. The students expressed solidarity with those seven persons who September 22 went on hunger strike demanding that innocent activists are released.
Rally stopped at Justice Ministry a bit longer. They planned to move forward to Patriarchy, but a number of policemen occurred on the bridge blocking the road.
In order to avoid provocation leaders decided to move demonstration in other direction. They moved to somewhat epicenter of demonstrations Tbilisi Concert Hall, where some people were already gathered. Couple of police cars already awaited them at hall.
Students blocked main street. Soon when major wave of demonstration arrived police blocked people from car road making live chain and not letting people go through it. Police was brought with public yellow buses and small police minibuses.
Organizers decided to avoid provocation once again and called for people to end event and come next day. People started leaving, some went home, some to church for praying, some joined small concert at Tbilisi State University.
Some students tried to go to car road, but police resisted to them and forced to go on the other side of road. One student fainted.
Priests and leaders asked for participants to leave. Soon only several people remained at Tbilisi Concert Hall.
Students’ rally will continue tomorrow at 15:00 and at 17:00.