Blog Post

Torturing Writers in the Name of G.W. Bush

George W. Bush called Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili a “Beacon of Democracy” of the new world in 2005.  Saakashvili had always supported the Iraq War and all other wars and has even started his own war with Russia.   George Bush was trying to help him, and Saakashvili returned a favor.  He has named a street after Mr. Bush.

The so-called postmodern authoritarian regime led by Mikheil Saakashvili has intensified its intimidation campaign against free thinking writers and publishers in 2010.  This campaign has both political and economic underpinnings. Because of this Saakashvili intensified the campaign against free thinkers in his own country.   Publisher Merab Katamadze, who was known for publishing many books by David Turashvili, famous Georgian dissident writer, was arrested in 2009 under fabricated charges.  Police threw arms into his car and charged him with illegal possession of firearms.  Mr. Katamadze is still awaiting trial just because he has published the writings of dissident Georgian writers.

Well-known Georgian writer Zurab Rtveliashvili was forced to leave Georgia in 2009 after being arrested a number of times.  The reason was him publishing his book “Anarkh” at the publishing house Siesta in 2006.

The Georgian government decided to attack well-known Georgian writer Naira Gelashvili, who is the head of the oldest Georgian Peace Building organization “Caucasian House”.  The orders were given to evict “Caucasian House” from its building which was built with the help of the  International Foundation “Horizonti”.   Naira Gelashvili is one of the best known dissident Georgian writers who has published more than 20 books.  “Caucasian House” is known to publish different progressive writings, including the magazine “Afra”.  Now they are under prosecution as well.

More recently, August 14, 2010, young Georgian poets Shota Gagarin and Alex Chigvinidze decided to organize a poetic action to rename George W. Bush street Walt Whitman street.   I have accompanied them during their performance and participated in it.  They have not blocked the street, neither have they resisted police for arresting them.

During our artistic action we were absolutely unlawfully charged with the violation of article 173, which talks about ‘evil disobedience’ to authorities.  We were arrested without any notification. Our right were not explained to us.  As we learned after we were charged with article 173, which claimed that we have disobeyed the orders, which is not true.  Afterwards we were taken to the Ministry of Internal Affairs where we were subjected to inhumane treatment and torture for more than 3 hours.  We were sitting handcuffed in 2 separate cars and then the chief of Tbilisi Police Department, Mr. Gegechkori came with 3 deputies.  About 40 policemen were around us during this time.  Gegechkori and his 3 deputies approached our cars and started making humiliating comments.  We asked them to stop.  But they continued insulting us for about 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes I responded to their insults and then one of the deputies of Mr. Gegechkori threw a bottle of water at me and then the other one came and started to hold my head and hit it on the seat of the car.   They have personally participated in beating and humiliating all of us.

The trial went on for about 2 hours and the Judge did sentence us to 400 Georgian Lari penalty for “Evil Disobedience to Authorities”, which is also very unfair.  The judge refused to see the tape of our arrest which was made by 3 different TV cameras.  As a result we went through humiliation, physical abuse and unfair trial.  All of this happened just because young writers wanted to change the name of George W. Bush street into Walt Whitman street.  That is how poetry is appreciated here.  

You can see the entire audio-visual performance on this tape, which is on youtube.   It clearly shows there was no “evil resistance’ to the police.










Courtesy of Georgia Media Center.

The poets have obeyed the police and got into the car once they were told.  Poets don’t deserve to be tortured for reading poetry—either theirs or Walt Whitman’s.  

Saakashvili’s Post-Modern Authoritarian regime wants to continue arming itself to be able to suppress Georgian citizens as well as start new wars.  He is asking US taxpayers to pay the money to keep his regime in power.  George W. Bush has armed him and he started a war in 2008 and crashed his own people in 2007, 2008 and 2009.  Now he wants to do the same with the new Democratic administration.  Let us hope this is not going to happen.   Georgia continues to live in Bush era and continues to torture its own citizens and even US citizens.  So far Mr. Saakashvili has not paid the price for it.

Georgia’s Ombudsman has asked for investigation of this crime by Georgian Police but so far has got no answer for this.

The campaign against free speech in Georgia continues.  Now young writers are subject to the terror by the authoritarian regime.  They need your support.

Irakli Zurab Kakabadze's picture
Born in 1969, Irakli Kakabadze is a Georgian writer, performance artist, peace and human rights activist. His first prize was awarded in 1990 by the TSISTAKRI MAGAZINE for the best creation of 1990 - Allegro or Chronicle of one Year. In 2009, he was awarded the Oxfam/Novib PEN Freedom of Expression Prize. Kakabadze's articles and stories have been published in Georgian, Russian, and English newspapers and magazines. In 2007 he received the Lilian Hellman/Hammett grant from Human Rights Watch. From 2008 to 2012, Kakabadze was based in Ithaca, NY, where he developed a new method of integrating performing arts and social sciences, called "Rethinking Tragedy" or "Transformative Performance." Kakabadze has also pioneered a multi-lingual and multi-narrative performing style, called Polyphonic Discourse. Irakli Kakabadze's work as an artist-activist is subject of an American verite documentary At the Top of My Voice filmed by Indian American Director Sudhir Venkatesh and Larry Kammerman. In May 2008 Kakabadze shared a stage at PEN World Voices Festival in New York with György Dragomán, Hasan Elahi, Asli Erdogan, Péter Esterházy, Chenjerai Hove, Jenny Marketou, Ivy Meeropol, Francine Prose, and Ingo Schulze, at the Writers and Artists Against the Surveillance State. In November 2008 at the Miami Book Fair Kakabadze shared a stage with Sarah Mkhonza, Russell Banks and Derek Walcott to perform another piece of Polyphonic Blues. Kakabadze has performed his polyphonic style of poetry at the Frankfurt Book Fair (2009) and “Free the Word” in London (2010) (23). At the 2010 “PEN World Voices” Festival in New York Kakabadze performed Polyphonic Discourse at the Cabaret Show that featured the author with Natalie Merchant, Ben Okri and Ariel Dorfman. He has performed at many literary and peace festivals including in Berlin (2014), Palma De Mallorca (2016), Valencia (2016), ext. His book 'Umberto vs Ernesto' or 'Marginal Delirium' was published and has introduced polyphonic discourse in December 2013. In 2017 publishing house 'Intelekti' has published another book of his essays "Love Doctrine" that is highly influenced by the works of Mahatma Gandhi.