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Corrections Minister Deflecting Torture Criticism Say Prisoner Advocates

Prisoner advocacy group People Against Prisons Aotearoa says it’s confused as to why Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis alleged its newsletter was inciting riots. Responding to the allegations made yesterday during oral question time in Parliament, the group’s spokesperson said Davis was desperate and deflecting.

“Kelvin is making these allegations to distract from the fact that prison guards gassed Māori women and forced them to crawl on the floor of their cells and beg for food,” said the group’s spokesperson Emilie Rākete. “Kelvin is attacking legitimate political activity to distract the public from the torture he has overseen as Minister of Corrections.”

“Kelvin Davis is conflating non-violent collective action with rioting in order to deflect attention from the humiliation and abuse he allowed Mihi Bassett to suffer,” says Rākete.

“Of course our organisation isn’t trying to incite riots,” says spokesperson Emilie Rākete. “Our prisoner newsletter, Take No Prisoners, has been published since 2018 and has hundreds of readers. We regularly mail it into prisons and have never had a problem.”

“Our February edition discussed People Against Prisons Aotearoa’s national nonviolent organising strategy. The strategy would see prisoners forming organising committees and working with community organisations to see meaningful action on the disgusting conditions Davis has allowed to fester in our country’s prisons,” says Rākete. “The newsletter uses the words ‘non-violent’ over and over again, but Davis seems to be pretending he can’t read.”

The newsletter lists some human rights laid out in the Corrections Act that People Against Prisons Aotearoa says are frequently violated. It also suggests some actions prisoners might take, like writing a petition, refusing to work, or putting pressure on Corrections through the media.

“We’re trying to help prisoners peacefully coordinate to get the rights Kelvin himself promised them with his Hōkai Rangi strategy. It’s bizarre he’s pretending this is dangerous.”

“The only one inciting prison riots is Kelvin Davis, when he allows guards to abuse and torture prisoners. We are trying to avert future riots by giving prisoners the tools they need to make their voices heard in non-violent ways.”

“It is insulting to Māori communities crying out for change that Kelvin Davis is playing politics using people’s lives,” says Rākete. “We all saw that Kelvin allows male prison guards to force woman prisoners to show their used tampons in order to get clean ones. This paranoid fantasy of his won’t make us forget that.”

The group say they understand that Kelvin Davis would not provide a copy of their newsletter to media. The latest edition of Take No Prisoners, along with back copies, can be read on People Against Prisons Aotearoa’s website at http://papa.org.nz/publications

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