New Immigration Minister should show compassion to hunger strikers

The Green Party has called on the new Minister of Immigration, Wyatt Creech, to show compassion to the 16 Indian and Pakistani asylum seekers currently on hunger strike in Mt Eden prison.

“They have been on a hunger strike for 26 days, and are getting very weak,” said Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke.

“The sacked Minister Tuariki Delamere took a hard-line stance against the men’s release into the community while their refugee status appeals were being heard.

“The new Minister should use the change over as a chance to revisit the issue and show the compassion that New Zealanders are noted for,” Mr Locke said.

“It would be shameful if one of the men dies before anything is done. The prison chaplain, Father Peter Murnane, has real fears about this possibility.

“Any death would severely damage New Zealand’ s reputation as a caring country, particularly when human rights conventions state that applicants for refugee status should be treated humanely.

“Refugees should only be imprisoned if they are a real danger to the community, which these men are clearly not. The local Sikh community has volunteered to take the Indian hunger strikers into their care,” said Mr Locke.