Stop shocking-torturing Ray Sandford/letters

November 15, 2008
Attention:
Chair, Human Rights Committee
Office of the High Commission on Human Rights
United Nations

Dear Chairperson,
I am forwarding the letter below, initially addressed to Mr.Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota, for your information and possible action. It concerns the forced electroshocking of Mr. Ray Sandford, a psychiatric outpatient in Minnesota. Despite his repeated refusal, Mr. Sandford has been court-ordered to submit to the memory-destroying, brain-damaging  psychiatric procedure of electroshock (“electroconvulsive therapy” or “ECT”).  Together with many other psychiatric survivors and human rights activists, I am absolutely convinced that the health, safety and human rights of Mr. Sandford and thousands of other citizens are being seriously and repeatedly violated by physicians, particularly psychiatrists, as well as Governor Pawlenty and the State of Minnesota.

I would appreciate knowing if the Human Rights Committee considers electroshock, particularly forced electroshock, a form of torture, a serious human rights violation. Many of us psychiatric survivors and human rights activists believe it is. For over twenty-five (25) years, hundreds, if not thousands, of electroshock survivors, other psychiatric survivors, human rights activists, health professionals including several psychiatrists and neurologists, and concerned citizens have publicly and frequently protested against electroshock. We have repeatedly urged a total and immediate ban on electroshock in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and New Zealand.

To date, I have not received a reply from Governor Pawlenty. Please acknowledge receipt of my letter, I look forward to your reply.
Sincerely,
Don Weitz
Executive Member, Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault – http://capa.oise.utoronto.ca
1401-38 Orchard View Blvd., Toronto,Ontario M4R 2G3 Canada

November  12, 2008

Governor Tim Pawlenty
State of Minnesota
tim.pawlenty@state.mn.us

Dear Governor Pawlenty,
As an antipsychiatry activist and psychiatric survivor of insulin shock treatment many years ago in Massachusetts, I am writng to strongly protest against the forced electroshock (“ECT”) inflicted on 54-year old Ray Sandford in Minnesota. I understand Mr. Sandford is being forcibly taken (“escorted”) to Mercy Hospital  (“Mercy”?)  where he is being shocked against his will or without consent every Wednesday morning. Given the fact that psychiatrists and other doctors do not inform patients about the common and severe risks of permanent memory loss and brain damage, and given the fact that psychiatrists and other doctors frequently use blackmail or threats and intimidation to get “ECT” patients to consent, no person can possibly give “voluntary and informed consent” to electroshock. Informed consent in the “mental health system” is a compete myth, a sham

Electroshock itself is a traumatic and horrific psychiatric procedure (not “treatment”);  it always causes some degree of brain-damage including permanent memory loss. After having listened to the personal and public testimonies of numerous shock survivors in Canada and the United States and after having read many independent studies of electroshock in the medical-psychiatric literature during the last 30 years, there is absolutely no doubt that electroshock is inherently destructive, inhumane and unethical; the use of force is particularly torturous. State-sanctioned use of police powers to inflict electroshock on Mr.Sandford against his will – and inflicted on any other US citizen for that matter – is a serious violation of his constitutional and human rights, a serious violation of the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture, and a serious violation of Article 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights that specifically prohibits any “cruel and unusual treatment or degrading punishment, or torture”.

Thousands of shock survivors, including myself, advocacy and human rights organizations and several psychiatrists and neurologists in the United States and other countries have advocated a total ban on electroshock. Some states in your country have restricted the use of electroshock – for example, Texas, California and Oregon. Why not Minnesota?

I am copying this to the United Nations’ Committee Against Torture, other international human rights bodies, advocacy organizations of psychiatric survivors, several concerned psychiatrists and neurologists, and the media.

In the interests of Mr Sandford’s health, safety and human rights, I urge you to use your office and  power as Governor to stop electroshocking Ray Sandford now.
Stop state-sanctioned torture in Minnesota!
I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,
Don Weitz
Executive member, Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault – http://capa.oise.utoronto.ca
1401-38 Orchard View Blvd., Toronto, Ontario M4R 2G3

c: MindFreedom International
United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Committee Against Torture
Amnesty International
Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault
National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy
Editor-in-Chief, The New  York Times
other media

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