*Te Wharepora Hou member Sina Brown-Davis speaks at the NO TO SERCO rally at Mt Eden Prison on Saturday 01 August 2015*
Tēnā koutou ki ngā iwi kua huihui mai nei. Kei konei ahau ki te taha o te rōpu Te Wharepora Hou. Kei konei ahau me te hunga e whakahē ana ki ngā whareherehere. Ko Sina Brown-Davis ahau nō Ngāti Whātua ki Kaipara.
I am like many gathered here today, the family of a loved one inside. I refused to be ashamed of having a father as a prisoner, even though my dad is incarcerated, I will stand by him and love him unconditionally always. Prisoners are human beings, with human rights, I am sick of the sadistic and vengeful attitude that this country has towards prisoners. I am sick of a racist and punitive system that has resulted in the mass incarceration of Māori, of Pacific Islanders and of working class Pākehā.
I am sick of a government that chose to do a deal with Serco, despite their serial human rights abuses, and fraudulent mis-management. Serco have a disgraceful record world wide of neglecting their duty of care, to make money off the backs of the oppression of prisoners, refugees and those seeking asylum. We warned you that serco were nasty pricks only interested in making money. We warned you that Serco’s management of this prison would be a shambles We warned you that privatisation would be a complete and utter failure.
Last week prisoner Arthur Taylor and others had their case for the voting rights of prisoners upheld by the high court. This was a watershed moment in the fight for the human rights of prisoners. Prisoners and their families are fighting for the right to be treated like human beings with human rights and are winning!
For those who say that Iwi should be running prisons, I strongly disagree. Iwi-run prisons just transfer the punitive functions of the state to Māori. Running prisons is leveraging off the oppression of our people. Iwi have no ethical or cultural standing in investing in the ongoing oppression of our people. The investment needs to be in changing the lock-down mentality of the existing system. Dress it up any way you like the mass incarceration and locking up of our people in cages is not a solution for anything, Māori run or otherwise. I would like to end with a quote from prison abolitionist Angela Davis:
“Imprisonment has become the response of first resort of far too many of the social problems that burden people who are ensconced in poverty. These problems often are veiled by being conveniently grouped together under the category “crime” and by the automatic attribution of criminal behavior to people of color. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages. But prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings. And the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant, and racially marginalized communities has literally become big business. It ought to be possible to build movements in defense of prisoners’ human rights and movements that persuasively argue that what we need is not new prisons, but new health care, housing, education, drug programs, and jobs. To safeguard a democratic future, it is possible and necessary to weave together the many and increasing strands of resistance to the prison industrial complex into a powerful movement for social transformation.”
Nō reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa!