INDEPENDENT NEWS

1 November – Labour Government’s Day of Shame

Published: Wed 1 Nov 2006 08:45 AM
1 November – Labour Government’s Day of Shame
Today marks the second anniversary of the incarceration of Iranian Thomas Yadegary without charge or trial in Auckland’s Mt Eden prison.
Thomas was arrested by immigration officials on 1 November 2004 and has been imprisoned since.
This is a day of shame for the Labour government.
Thomas is due to appear in court this Friday November 3rd and GPJA will join his supporters in court for his appearance.
In a letter to Thomas’s lawyer late last week Amnesty has reported in detail on the up-to-date situation in Iran for Christian converts such as Thomas. As a result of this comprehensive review Amnesty has concluded-
“Amnesty International believes it is not now safe for Mr Yadegary to be returned to Iran, and any such return would see New Zealand in breach of its international human rights obligations.
Amnesty International therefore supports My Yadegary's immediate removal from prison and for him to be provided with a "complimentary form of protection" which would allow him to reside and work in New Zealand until such time as it is safe for him to return home."
The Labour government has no option but to release Thomas and allow him to continue to work in New Zealand. His incarceration is a blight on our support for human rights.
Background:
Thomas is an Iranian who is being held because he refuses to sign papers which would result in him being forced to return to Iran where his life would be at risk.
Late last month Associate Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove once again washed his hands of Thomas’s situation so his detention is due to continue indefinitely.
Thomas came to New Zealand in 1993 and applied for refugee status. For 12 years he worked hard and was a model citizen. Despite the strong support of a wide circle of friends and his Christian community, which includes support from his Catholic bishop, his application was turned down and on 1 November 2004 he was taken into custody at Mt Eden to await deportation. He has been there since.
The government is effectively keeping him hostage in prison – to be released only if he agrees to being deported to Iran! This is the type of human rights tragedy the government has condemned in many countries around the world in a variety of contexts.
It’s ironic that as an MP, David Cunliffe wrote a strong letter (3 pages) of support for Thomas and closely argued his case to remain in New Zealand. Cunliffe himself is now the Minister of Immigration and deaf to all appeals on Thomas’s behalf.
Thomas’s continuing incarceration is a travesty of natural justice and a disgraceful abuse of human rights.
We have our own little Guantánamo Bay right here in the heart of Mount Eden.
Public support for Thomas has been growing quickly. Both the National Party and United Future are backing him to stay as is the Catholic community and Catholic bishop. (Thomas converted to Catholicism 9 years ago)
ends

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