Photo of an Important Protest You Haven't Heard About (Updated):
Really, the protesters in the Muslim world have been fanned into outrage over the bullshit Muhammad-fucking film by groups who need to destabilize the region in order to gain power. If they were rioting over drone attacks, then, well, sure, go at it. Warm yourselves over the burning flags. We deserve it. But if it truly is the crap video, then they can suck a bag of cocks.
So let's leave behind the conflagration in the Muslim world for a moment and head over to the former Soviet Union for a protest of something real - in fact, over another film. That picture up top, with its signs with colorful language, is from the days of marches by thousands of citizens of the nation of Georgia, in its capital, Tbilisi. They are angry because of a secret video, showed Tuesday on TV, that showed guards at a Tbilisi prison beating and humiliating prisoners, including raping them with batons and broom handles. People flooded the streets all over the nation, calling for justice. 15 guards were arrested, and President Mikhail Saakashvili promised a full investigation.
Which would be fine, except that the whistleblower, a former guard who fled to Belgium, says that the prisoners chosen for torture and abuse are "ideological enemies" of the Saakashvili regime. Says a former member of the Georgian parliament, "[The] policy imposed by Mr. Saakashvili’s regime calls [for] zero tolerance towards minors, towards those who raised their voice against Saakashvili’s government. There are so many cases, almost 99 per cent of the prisoners, to be precise 98.7 per cent, according to Human Rights Watch, the prisoners pled [sic] guilty." The people in the streets, now for the fourth day, are calling for the president and his Interior Minister to resign. Oh, and there's an election right around the corner.
Which would be bad, but fine, from the average American's perspective, except that the United Nations human right chief called for a wider investigation.
And then there's this:
In January, President Obama praised Saakashvili for Georgia's participation in the war in Afghanistan and promised greater trading between the U.S. and Georgia. Oh, and, "I wanted to say to the President that we appreciate the model of democracy and transparency that they’ve been setting not just for their own country but also for the region as a whole."
That last part is up for a hell of a test.
Update: The Interior Minister did resign yesterday. And rude reader Sam, who studies the former Soviet Union, offers: "I agree that if the accusations of the prison guard are correct it
bodes ill for Georgian Democracy. Problematically, however, evidence of
Saakashvili being a closet dictator is very very rare. There is no
history of suppressing protest during his presidency, nor of secret
prisons or show trials. In fact Saakashvili's tenure has seen a marked
decline in police corruption and brutality. Also during this time the
Georgian constitution has been reworked to make authoritarianism less
likely by removing powers from the president and placing them in the
hands of the Prime Minister and Parliament. After the presidential
election next year the President will be a mainly ceremonial position.
Overall there is very little evidence to suggest that this brutality was
motivated by repressive tendencies on Presidents Saakasvili's part."