Waikeria Prison uprising: Inmates say they’ll protest ‘for as long as it takes’

By Riley Kennedy of RNZ

The 16 men on top of Waikeria Prison say Corrections needs to start telling the truth about what is really happening, and that they will sit there “for as long as it takes”.

The men have been holed up in a high-security building since Tuesday, when they lit several fires to protest against poor conditions.

The building has since been extensively damaged and the Department of Corrections said it was unlikely to be used again.

Late yesterday afternoon, one of the inmates surrendered after he was assaulted by the others who attempted to prevent him from leaving.

The Corrections Department says inmates continued to light fires and cause further damage last night.

But RNZ has been able to speak with one of the prisoners this afternoon, who has described the prison as “inhumane”.

He said that the Department of Corrections needed to start telling the truth and stop twisting the story for its own reputation.

“They say we are rioting, but we aren’t,” the man told RNZ.

“We are protesting for a cause and that’s why we have gone this far.

“We will sit here for as long as it takes, we would die for this cause.

“Inside or outside the gate, we are all human and we want to be treated like that.”

He said Corrections had been telling media they were concerned for the prisoners’ health and safety.

“Well, if they are, why are they still letting us drink our own urine?”

The inmate told RNZ that they want media to be able to go in there and speak to them directly.

“They keep saying it’s unsafe for media to go in but why did they let kaumātua and Rawiri [Waititi] come in yesterday?”

Corrections has been approached for comment.


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