26 September 2012, 16:46
Georgian Patriarch urges release of anti-torture protesters
Tbilisi, September 26, Interfax - The head of the Georgian Orthodox
Church, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, has urged Georgia's government to
release demonstrators who have been jailed for protests against torture
in the country's prisons.
"I repeatedly warned Ms. [Khatuna] Kalmakhelidze [former minister of
corrections and legal assistance who resigned last week in a scandal
over torture and rape in one of the prisons in the capital Tbilisi] that
she should be like a mother to prison inmates, and that they should not
be tortured no matter how guilty they were. I also warned her
colleagues, but, apparently, this has not been enough, and they have
gone on, and are going on, with those horrors," Patriarch Ilia said in a
statement released on Wednesday.
"Now other people have been jailed, those who are actively speaking
about this are being arrested, and I want to ask our government to
release those people, the new detainees. Because this will give rise to
a new wave of confrontation, to hostility."
The Patriarch said the Georgian Church had been proposing for a long
time that chaplains be appointed for prisons, but that the initiative
had still not materialized.
"Of course, clerics do pay frequent visits to correctional institutions,
but it is a completely different matter when a spiritual father who is
vested with larger social responsibilities has the right of
supervision," he said.