September 25, 2012
Vladimir Bedukadze, a former Soviet Republic of Georgia prison guard witnessed, taped, and released videos of the grave human rights injustices that he says have been committed on a daily basis since 2005. In the penitentiary that he worked, he observed prisoners being physically assaulted, sexually assaulted, verbally abused, and tortured in many other ways so consistently that he had to resign. Shortly after leaving his job, Bedukadze released the damning tapes and fled the country to escape the persecution that would be sure to follow his perceived insubordination. He is currently seeking political asylum in Belgium.
While at the Georgia prison, Bedukadze taped several disgusting acts including but not limited to prisoners being hit in the face and body, and most recently, a man being raped by prison workers with a broom handle. The tapes have been airing on Georgia television stations since the September 18th with the men that have been accused of the crimes faces obscured so that they receive a fair trial. Bedukadze blames President Mikheil Saakashvili and Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia for the way that prisoners have been treated under their reign, even calling some of the Interior Minister’s methods criminal. And, extreme protests have come from officials from the Republic of Georgia and outside of the country.
The fallout from these events have been severe. Akhalaia, and the minister of legal assistance and corrections, Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, have subsequently and rightfully resigned from their positions. Though Saakashvili publicly condemned all the actions of his subordinates, he is also taking fire from the abuse scandal. Bedukadze has called for his resignation, despite the fact that Saakashvili has an ongoing investigation into the employees that he believes may be responsible for the brutalization in the prison. This is because one of the prisoners that have been tortured is Tamaz Tamazashvili, the father-in-law of Irlakli Garibashvili, an opponent of Saakashvili’s political party. Garibashvili said that his father-in-law’s life was in danger, and the president said that political reasons were the motivation behind the tapes being released, not the morality of Bedukadze.
The whole incident prompted the actions of the United Nations. They released officials to help conduct the investigations and ensure that they are fairly initiated and properly handled. Georgia was once a place that thrived on criminal actions in their institutions and everyone thought that the past was behind them before this occurrence. However, the last few days have been an eye-opener. And depending on what is found in the investigations, there may be more resignations in the near future.