The hunger strike is the only way to draw attention of the Georgian authorities to the fate of the Ossetian prisoners

Sun, 21/04/2013 - 22:51

Valery Zasseev – father of the lifer Georgy Zasseev, who has been languishing in the Georgian prison –is going in solidarity with his son to join the indefinite hunger strike, which April 15 was gone on by the lifers of Gldani prison in Tbilisi (Georgia).

This was said IA "Res" by Georgy's mother Lyudmila Usovich, who had also joined the hunger strike on April 17.
"Today is the fourth day of my hunger strike, thereby supporting my only son, and I will be starving as long as I get the objective information about the health of my son, the conditions of his detention in prison, - she said. – Over these terrible eight years I have been sharing with him all the hardships and troubles. I live with the hope of seeing my son at home. Now my son is having the hardest time, and I will support him to the end. He's hungry – so, I`ll be starving, too. As a mother, I cannot do otherwise."
In July 2005, Zasseev, along with two citizens of South Ossetia Georgy Valiev and Joseph Kochiev, was detained by the Georgian special services. At first, they were accused of drug dealing, and later – of the committing of the terrorist act in the Georgian town of Gori (on February 1, 2005). On this, obviously trumped-up charges, they were sentenced to life imprisonment.
According to Lyudmila, for her family a hunger strike is the only way to draw the attention of the Georgian authorities to their trouble.
"I'm not trying to pity someone; I am not going to protest at the central square, I just want the world community to respond to the outrageous injustice, to our trouble. My husband, Valery, is also going to start a hunger strike in support of our son. We don`t see the other way out. We have nothing to lose, "- she added.
Three months ago, Georgy Zasseev was transferred from the sixth Rustavi prison to the Gldani prison in Tbilisi. The last time Lyudmila Usovich saw her son February 28.
"When I have seen him for the last time, he tried to look normal, healthy not to upset us. But it`s hard to deceive mother's heart. I can imagine, through what has gone my son, what tortures and horrors he has suffered. He has a right to phone home every 10 days, the prison administration provides him with the official phone. And on this day all our relatives and his friends, come to talk to him, support him. He usually asks us about all his friends He is missing Ossetia, his Motherland very much"- says Lyudmila.
According to her, in the Georgian prisons the human rights of Georgy and other Ossetian prisoners are grossly violated.
"His rights have always been violated. By law we were to have visited him every month, but there were times when we were not allowed to visit him for several months, even to send him parcels. We ask the Georgian authorities to review the case, and carry out the objective investigation, and until then, at least to improve their living conditions ", - she said.
Georgy Zasseev was detained in July 2005 in the village of Avnevi in Znaur district of South Ossetia - then this village was under the control of the Georgian security forces.
"Georgian special forces had intruded into our territory by ambulance car, and they provoked a road accident with Georgy. They brutally beat him and took him to Gori through all the Georgian checkpoints. There he was planted drugs, then he was charged with illegal possession of weapons, and at the end of that absurdity, he was accused of committing a terrorist act in Gori and sentenced to life imprisonment. This is nonsense; even a narrow-minded man will be able to understand without hesitation that it was a trumped-up charge", - said Lyudmila.
Parents of Zasseev intended to file an appeal against the verdict, but the Supreme Court of Georgia refused to accept their papers.
"After that we wanted to apply to the Hague court, but they also refused to accept our application, saying that we had not gone through all the relevant channels in Georgia", - says Lyudmila. Her son has never smoked, did not use drugs – he was playing sports all his life.
"Georgy had never been to Gori, and how he would have been able to commit a terrorist act there?" - She wonders.
According to Marina Dzhioeva - the wife of another lifer Joseph Valiev, the last time she contacted her husband over the phone was on Monday, but then she heard about the hunger strike.
"They have been starving since Monday. He called me and told about the decision to join the hunger strike of the 75 Gldani prisoners. Joseph told me that there was no the alternative. Some of the prisoners have been reduced the time, someone granted an amnesty, but our guys were not remembered, though they had great hope, "- said Marina.
After this news, she applied to the Red Cross, but there she was told that they had not any information.
According to Marina, the Red Cross has been organizing the meetings of Zasseev and Kochiev with their family members – earlier bimonthly, and recently every month. In addition, at her request, the Red Cross helped Valiev to have medical examination.
"He had poor health even before the arrest, but recently it has worsened. During the war in 2008 he and other Ossetians were severely batoned - just for the fact that they were Ossetians. Later I applied to the Red Cross with the request to assist in having medical examination by the prisoners. My husband, besides other illnesses, has also a two- centimeter -long kidney stone. He is feeling unwell. He has told me over the phone that they do not have the other way out, but to go on the hunger strike, because if something does not change, he will die either from the disease, or from poor conditions", - says Marina.
She and her husband set high hopes on the South Ossetian authorities, especially on the meetings in the format of Mechanisms on Prevention and Reaction to Incidents, where the South Ossetian delegation regularly raises the issue of the fate of the Ossetians languishing in Georgian prisons.
"If we, ourselves, as well as our government, do not constantly speak about it at all available platforms, no one in Georgia will remember about them and they will spend all their life in prison. Eight years have already passed, but I still try not to think that they were sentenced to life imprisonment - this thought makes me feel bad, "- said Marina.
The Georgian authorities did not give her a chance to hire a lawyer from South Ossetia or Russia to protect her husband. The Georgian court-appointed lawyer - a young girl, said she would not oppose the authorities.
"Even if she had wanted and had not been afraid of the authorities, it would have been in vain to seek the truth, everything has already been decided from the very beginning," - said Marina.
It is reported that in 1991, at the height of persecution of the Ossetians in Georgia, she and her parents fled to South Ossetia, and has received the refugee status here. Later the authorities of the Republic bought her a one-bedroom apartment. She has an 18-year-old son. Marina is working as a salesgirl in one of the small shops in Tskhinval. She is paid a meager wage.
"My son is playing football - at one time I even managed to rent an apartment for him in Vladikavkaz, so he could train there, but I could not pay the rent for a long time and he had to come back," - said Marina.
The mother of the third prisoner - Joseph Kochiev, has recently died, unable to bear the sufferings for her son. His father underwent a capital operation, from which he has not recovered yet, his state of health is still critical.
Presidential Envoy to South Ossetia on post-conflict settlement Murat Dzhioev and Presidential Commissioner for Human Rights of South Ossetia Inal Tasoev have sent a letter to the co-chairs of the Geneva international discussions on security in Transcaucasia, where they expressed concern about the fate and health of the citizens of Valiev, Zasseev and Kochiev.
"Keeping in mind the numerous cases of reprisal against the prisoners from South Ossetia during the disorders in Georgian prisons, as well as taking into account the facts of gross violations of human rights and tortures in Georgian prisons, which were made public last year, we express our grave concern and we appeal to the authorities of Georgia to exclude illegal actions against the above mentioned citizens of South Ossetia, "- is said in a letter of the co-chair of the Geneva talks.
The Envoy and the Human Rights Commissioner have also applied to the Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in South Ossetia Leanne Hutchins with the request the above citizens of South Ossetia to be visited in prison by the ICRC representatives.
An open letter to the Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili was also written by the Ossetian human rights activist Lira Kozaeva. She has described in detail the circumstances of the arrest and conviction of Valiev, Zasseev, and Kochiev, indicating clearly the trumped-up nature of the charges, as well as the physical and psychological pressure on them, including the use of psychotropic drugs.

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