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Award-winning poet faces trial following peaceful demonstration in Georgia

PEN International

This statement was originally published on pen-international.org on 21 January 2016.

On 25 December 2015 poet, activist and winner of the 2009 Oxfam Novib/PEN Awards for Freedom of Expression, Irakli Kakabadze, was arrested and injured during a peaceful demonstration protesting the appointment of Judge Levan Murusidze to the Appeals Court of Georgia's High Council of Justice in Georgia. The appointment of Murusidze has been criticised by rights groups and activists amid claims that in 2007, Murusidze, then a member of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Georgia, reduced the sentences of four people convicted of murdering Sandro Girgvliani, the 28-year-old head of the international department of the United Georgian Bank.

Kakabadze was arrested outside the proceedings, during which he was beaten, suffering minor concussion, the loss of a tooth, and sustained an injury to his foot. You can view the video of his arrest here. Kakabadze is currently out on bail and appeared in court on 20 January 2016. His trial was postponed to 22 January 2016. A formal investigation was launched into his allegations of ill-treatment.

PEN International believes that Kakabadze's arrest and the legal proceedings against him are in connection to his peaceful exercise of his right to protest.

Take action: Please send appeals:

  • Calling for fair treatment and due process for Irakli Kakabadze and other activists;
  • Calling for immediate investigation into his physical mistreatment during his arrest;
  • Urging the authorities to ensure that there is no future harassment of writers and activists for their peaceful exercise of their right to protest or freedom of expression.

Appeals to:

Prime Minister of Georgia

Giorgi Kvirikashvili

7 Ingorokva St

Tbilisi 0114, Georgia

Tel: (995 32) 299 09 00

You can send online appeals directly to the Prime Minister of Georgia here. Please copy your appeals to the Embassy of Georgia in your country. A list of embassies can be found here.

Please send us copies of your letters or information about other activities and of any responses received.

Publicity

PEN members are encouraged to publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Irakli Kakabadze and the situation for freedom of expression in Georgia.

Background

Irakli Kakabadze is an award winning Georgian poet, writer and rights activist who also holds US citizenship. He has published more than 50 short stories and essays in Georgian and English newspapers and magazines and is the author of several books including Candidate Jokola, Maskhara and Baudrillard, Medea Rehabilitation Project and Mother Courage of the Caucasus. He chairs the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation Georgia and is the author of the lyrics of a number of internationally acclaimed songs, including 'Postindustrial Boys' and 'Shmazi Anthem'.

Kakabadze is currently teaching at Georgian American University in Tbilisi. He has also taught at Cornell University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Taipei Tech University, Centennial College in Canada, Tbilisi State University, Georgian Institute for Public Affairs. He is also a founding editor in chief of 'Peace Times' magazine in Georgia.

For further information please contact Ann Harrison at PEN International Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: [email protected]

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