Release Zaoui: Open Letter To Helen Clark
6 October 2003
3/91 Austin Street Wellington 6001
The Right Hon. Helen Clark Prime Minister Parliament Wellington
Dear Ms Clark,
I am writing to express horror at New Zealand’s treatment of Ahmed Zaoui, which seems to represent our version of Guantanamo Bay. It is apparent that his pursuers are or are connected with the murderous military regime in Algeria where Mr Zaoui had won a seat in Algeria’s first democratic election for thirty years.
Charges against him have been examined by the Refugee Status Appeal authority and dismissed. The Security Intelligence Service claims that he is a security risk and has issued a security risk certificate against him. As the reasons of the SIS or the Government’s reasons for this are secret we cannot know why this has been done or at whose behest he has been treated in an appallingly inhumane way. Interring Mr Zaoui in solitary confinement, especially for so long, on the basis of unsubstantiated charges from dubious sources is consistent with a rule of terror rather than a rule of law. It is a breach both of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the New Zealand Bill of Rights, according to Amnesty International which organisation points to this case as a clear departure from New Zealand’s international obligations.
Now that Tony Taylor, trauma consultant, has examined Mr Zaoui over three days of interviews and seen him as unfit as a result of his treatment to present his case it would be unconscionable to fail to follow Professor Taylor’s recommendation to “lift the environmental restrictions swiftly” and provide “appropriate mental, physical and social management and care in a supportive milieu accustomed to dealing with refugees that have been interrogated and tortured”.
I cannot see any reason to fail to act on refugee status for Mr Zaoui and his family. That he has suffered so much following being granted refugee status here reflects very gravely on this country. I would like to know where the pressure has come from for your Government to act in this way.
I wrote to the Hon. L Dalziel on this matter. In effect she denied all responsibility so please do not refer the matter to her again. It can only be dealt with at the highest level.
The New Zealand Government should also be calling for the release of Mordechai Vanunu, the conscientious whistle blower on Israel’s secret nuclear production facility, and should affirm our non-nuclear status , so central to our national self –image.
Once again the New Zealand Government is countenancing Indonesia’s maltreatment, including the killing of many people, of a region under its rule, Aceh, as it did in the case of East Timor . Again, a policy which must be reversed to accord with any claim to be acting according to human rights principles.
cc Hon L Dalziel Hon P Goff Hon P Swain