Lawyer aims to be first refugee to become New Zealand MP

by Sol Dolor18 Jan 2017
Golriz Ghahraman may just become the first refugee to become a New Zealand MP.

In a profile by Stuff, the Auckland human rights lawyer described her experience fleeing Iran and arriving in New Zealand.

Their family was originally from Mashhad, a Shia holy city near the Afghanistan border. However, their family left in 1990 to flee extreme repression.

Their first stop, when Ghahraman was just nine years old, was Malaysia, where they bought tickets to Fiji where a visa was not required. At a stopover in Auckland where relatives had won asylum, they applied and were granted asylum as well.

“It was amazing. They were much more concerned if we had fruit products on us. The next question was 'are you hungry and do you have somewhere to go?” the lawyer told the publication.

Ghahraman studied history and law at Auckland University and worked as a prosecutor for the United Nations in Cambodia after graduation. She has also worked in tribunals in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the profile noted.

Currently, she specialises in child rights and access to justice and goes before the High Court to represent relatives caring for severely disabled persons.

“My experience as a child asylum seeker has instilled in me a deep commitment to defending democratic institutions and the most vulnerable members of our community,” Ghahraman announced when she launched her candidacy.

“Through my work, I have seen firsthand the alarming willingness of the current government to dispense with fundamental rights and democratic processes. Legislation allowing discrimination against family carers of disabled persons was passed under urgency, local democracy was suspended in Canterbury, and our child poverty stats became an issue repeatedly raised by the United Nations.”

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