The Herald reports:
A Green Party candidate is aiming to be the first refugee to become an MP in New Zealand.
Auckland barrister Golriz Ghahraman, originally from Iran, has been confirmed as a candidate for the general election.
She says electing a refugee to Parliament would send a strong message during a global refugee crisis and at a time of rising anti-refugee and immigrant sentiment.
“It would be historic for New Zealand and I think it will mean something at this particular moment in a time when we are seeing one of the worst humanitarian disasters in a lifetime in the Middle East,” Ghahraman said.
“To say that someone fleeing that part of the world could actually be so accepted, that she could take part in a democratic society, would be really meaningful.
“Especially with the rhetoric of Donald Trump and Brexit, I got to the point where I thought some of us who are witnessing this actually need to put our hands up and be at the table in the higher levels of governance.”
Her family fled Iran’s repressive Islamic regime in 1990 when she was 9 and they were granted political asylum in New Zealand.
“Having an ambitious, educated mother, she was mostly the driver of us moving away, and she had a lot of trouble continuing to work because she wouldn’t adhere to Islamic dress codes and eventually it became dangerous for us,” she said.
The family travelled to New Zealand on the advice of a relative, who was also a refugee, and found the country was “incredibly welcoming”, she said.
The 35-year-old has since built up an impressive CV as a human rights lawyer in New Zealand and overseas. She worked as a prosecutor at United Nations tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, where heads of state were on trial for mass atrocities. After getting her masters degree in International Human Rights Law at Oxford University she also worked on the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia.
Great to see a refugee do so well in New Zealand they gain a Masters from Oxford and want to stand for Parliament. There will be many areas where I disagree with her, but I welcome her candidacy.
The Greens are certainly doing far better than Labour in attracting young talented New Zealanders to stand for them.