Cunliffe Accepted – Now Rejects – Thomas Yadegary Situation
Minister of Immigration David Cunliffe has rejected Iranian Thomas Yadegary’s application to stay in New Zealand despite
writing a detailed three page appeal to previous Minister Damien O’Connor two years ago on Thomas’s behalf requesting
“urgent consideration” of Thomas’s situation.
For the past 23 months Thomas Yadegary has been imprisoned without charge or trial in Auckland’s Mt Eden prison. Thomas
has refused to sign travel documents which would give the government the power to deport him. He has done this because
he fears for his life if he is forced to return to Iran having converted to Christianity 9 years ago.
Last week the government washed its hands of Thomas’s situation so his detention is due to continue indefinitely.
In his letter of support for Thomas written in November 2004 Cunliffe points out that the Refugee Status Appeals
Authority accepts that Thomas is a committed Christian who would “spread the light” amongst his family and friends if he
returned to Iran. Cunliffe goes on to closely argue the case for the Minister to intervene on Thomas’s behalf as he
would be at significant risk being forced to return to Iran in part because of the publicity already given to his
conversion. In recent days this publicity has reached new heights.
However Cunliffe as Minister of Immigration is now hiding behind Ministry of Immigration officials who are arguing the
exact opposite. Ministry officials claim Thomas will not be under threat returning to Iran in direct contradiction of
the reality of Thomas’s situation and of the Minister’s own previous position.
Phil Goff also wrote to Damien O’Connor requesting intervention on Thomas’s behalf two years ago but to no avail.
GPJA has previously asked the Minister how many white Zimbabwean farmers are being held in Mt Eden prison awaiting
deportation. The answer is none.
GPJA will support a protest being held outside the prison at 2pm on Saturday October 28th and will support Thomas in
court for his next appearance the following week.