Handcuffing of weak hunger striker shocking

Green Party Human Rights Spokesperson Keith Locke has been shocked to hear that Iranian hunger striker Ali Panah has been handcuffed to a guard while lying in Auckland hospital.

“It is plumbing the depths of inhumanity to do this to a man already in such distress after 33 days without food,” Mr Locke says.

“When I visited him on Monday he was very weak and could not sit up, let alone get out of bed unaided. He was not handcuffed then, but I have since spoken to a woman who visited him yesterday, and who did see him handcuffed.

“As well as being outside the bounds of human decency, Mr Panah was clearly not in a position to go anywhere — and clearly didn’t need two guards and handcuffs.

“I will be complaining to the Ministers of Immigration and Corrections and asking them to review their guidelines for treating prisoners when they are in hospital. Handcuffs should be used in a hospital environment only in rare and exceptional circumstances.

“I have also written to Immigration Minister David Cunliffe requesting that he grant Mr Panah a temporary visa.

“New Zealand would be violating its commitment to the Convention on Torture to return Mr Panah to Iran, where he could be persecuted for violating a law against conversion from Islam to Christianity. This is particularly true in that our Government openly admits there is a deteriorating human rights situation in Iran, especially with respect to Christians.

“Whatever deal the Government reaches with Iran regarding deportations, it would clearly not apply to Christian converts. I have had it confirmed today Mr Panah does not accept bail, if that is conditional on him agreeing to be deported.

“When Mr Panah spoke to me on Monday he was clearly terrified of being returned to Iran, either directly or via a third country,” Mr Locke says.