Golriz Ghahraman’s tale continues to unravel

The below article is a guest post and an opinion piece. The author has made deductions based on various written sources that have all been linked to. You can decide for yourselves if the conclusions the writer has drawn are logical or reasonable.


 

Photoshopped image credit: Technomage

 

Ms Golriz Ghahraman has once again played the refugee card in a new online article on Vice, Biography as a Battleground: What It Means To Be New Zealand’s First Refugee MP, 8 October 2018.

Every time she plays the refugee card, it’s a different card.  Last month it was the five of diamonds, this month the seven of clubs.  She is working her way through the pack, but is not able to play an Ace.  She cannot tell a consistent story.

Golriz needs to stop talking to the media about being a “refugee”.  The more she says, the bigger the hole she digs for herself with her inconsistencies and vague, implausible stories.

In a NZ Herald article, New Zealand elects first ever refugee MP: Golriz Ghahraman gains place, 7 October 2017, it states:Quote.

Most of Golriz Ghahraman’s childhood memories are of war.  She remembers howling sirens, sending families scurrying into basements.  She remembers people being trapped. End quote.

In her Maiden Speech to Parliament, Golriz said:Quote.

I remember the bombs and the sirens, running to a basement and just waiting.  But mostly I remember kids my age who stopped talking from the shell shock, and I still don’t know what happened to them. End quote.

In November 2017 in an article with the headline, Greens MP Golriz Ghahraman defends Iraq war claims, Golriz said this to Newshub in response to questions about the fact that she was living some 900km from Tehran, in Mashhad, which was never bombed during the Iran-Iraq warQuote.

Where I did experience air raids and bombings – on multiple occasions – was while visiting my auntie and uncle, who lived in Tehran, where we would go during our school holidays.

It was my experiences in Tehran that I was referring to in my maiden speech. End quote.

In the recent Vice article, it says: Quote.

On the other side of the country, in Urmia, the war was a more direct presence.  The family spent time there every year visiting the maternal side of the family. End quote.

 

Take a look at the map.  Orumiyeh is in the north-west corner of Iran, a few kilometres from the border with Iraq.  Would anyone have gone all the way there during the 1980-1988 war, from the safety of Mashhad to a war-zone near the Iraq border?  Since Mashhad was home to millions of displaced people, surely a more plausible explanation is that her relatives from Orumiyeh came to live with her family during the war?

Golriz claims to have felt “palpable fear” as a 9-year-old at the thought of being turned away from New Zealand at Auckland airport, but cannot get her story straight on where she went during her school holidays between 1986 and 1988.

Mashhad is 1,870km from Orumiyeh by road, which is not an easy journey in any country. Just for context, New Zealand is 1,600km in length. Iran’s roads have always had a high number of  fatalities. This journey would have taken several days and surely Golriz would remember such long annual journeys. Or did they fly by military plane perhaps, given Golriz’s father’s position in the Ministry of Agriculture?  This is unlikely and the only other means of travel during the war was by road.

I wonder about the reasons why Golriz has never mentioned this dangerous 1,870 km journey from literally one side of Iran to a war-zone on the other, and back, every year when she was at school, on at least three occasions. The article is vague about the number of trips. The most obvious conclusion, in my opinion, is that she did not previously mention it because these journeys did not happen during the war.

There is one reference to her travelling to Orumiyeh in 1990, immediately before the family left Iran: The Oh Nine, An Interview With: Golriz Ghahraman: Quote.

I remember going to see my mum’s family across the country and staying with them a week or two, feeling the tension as they probably knew what was happening but no one would dare talk about it.  Then everyone wept at the airport. End quote.

This indicates that this was not a dangerous road journey but instead a flight to and from Mashhad.

“Fleeing for their lives…after the farewell tour of Iran and they had time to pack.”

Another changing story and playing another card in the pack is the family’s departure from Iran.  Her Green Party profile says that Golriz was “lucky to escape war and persecution as a child”. In other references, she “fled” Iran. In the Vice article of the 8th of October 2018, there is a new claim: she and her parents did a farewell tour of Iran: Quote.

They toured Iran, saying guarded goodbyes to far-flung family. End quote.

The New Zealand Law Society article of 3 November 2017 says Quote.

she was “uprooted from her home country as a child to escape a repressive regime”. End quote.

In We Can’t Rely on Majority Rule: Meet NZ’s First Refugee MP, Vice, 10 October 2017 (are they doing annual reports on Golriz?) they said: Quote.

Her parents had been critical of Iran’s regime, with her mother speaking out publicly against the requirement to take religious exams. end quote.

This is yet another new claim and one not repeated elsewhere.  Golriz has claimed that her mother chose not to undertake a religious exam so as to be registered as a psychologist, but not that she had spoken out publicly, which would have identified her as an enemy of the regime.  Nor has she ever stated that her father was critical of the regime.  If either of them had been critical of the regime it is highly unlikely that they would have been allowed to go on holiday to Malaysia so soon after the war with Iraq.

This does not seem like a family persecuted by the Islamic regime.  They were not “uprooted” or “fleeing”. They went on a farewell tour to “far-flung” places throughout Iran.  They appear to have left the Mashhad airport using their own passports going on a Malaysian holiday and their departure was permitted by the regime.

In the NZ Herald article on 11 September 2018, Golriz no longer mentioned anything about war, persecution, missile attacks, bombs, bombing attacks, air raid sirens, people trapped under rubble, children not speaking, graffiti artists disappearing and ending up in unmarked graves, and childhood memories of war.

All those claims were gone. She walked away from all of it. When she was asked why her family left Iran she replied, “For political reasons.”

Now, some of the claims have reappeared but not all of them.

Apparently, she really did go near the border with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988, although she now claims that it was to a completely different place and much further away than Tehran; and she really did see children whose speech was affected by the bombing.

The story about going to Orumiyeh on the Iraq border during 1980-1988 is highly doubtful.

The story about a “lengthy” refugee process is also gone, despite the information being obtained over interviews in a café, at her residence and her parents’ residence.  She may have been shown a draft of the report.  There were many chances to include important claims.  The failure to recount significant claims is another reason why I believe that Golriz’s claims are open to so much doubt.

Even the claim of a “lengthy” process is in doubt.  The NZ Law Society reported on 3 November 2017, in an article with the headline “Human rights lawyer vows to defend the defenceless”: Quote.

Ms Ghahraman left Iran in 1990 when she was nine, and her family were soon granted political asylum in New Zealand. End quote.

Lengthy or soon? 

Golriz claimed in the NZ Herald report of 11 September that “Being a refugee has never helped; it’s just obscured everything else.”  Yet here she is again, making the claim.  If it hasn’t helped, why keep going on about it?

There is also no answer to the question asked by one critic about how she gained entry to Oxford University. If she didn’t use being a “refugee” to enter Oxford University, then why not prove it by releasing a copy of her application documents? Based on other reports she could also show that she didn’t use her refugee status to get into Harvard as well.

The Vice journalist didn’t ask.  There were a lot of questions he didn’t ask. If he had asked the hard questions do you think the interview would have continued?

But wait, there’s more.  Another new claim!  Hacks by the sneaky Russians: Quote.

[…] she started receiving death threats and hacks. Parliamentary Security later told her they were coming from Russian IP addresses. She suspects it had something to do with speaking out about Iranian human rights abuses. end quote.

Perhaps they thought that as she is  “the first ever woman to hold the Defence portfolio in the New Zealand Parliament (from any party!)” they might root around her website and emails and see what turned up. This claim by Golriz, however, is factually inaccurate as she is not the first ever woman to hold the portfolio.

So what did the Russians find?  What was the extent of the “hacks”?  Did they download her emails as they did to Hillary Clinton?  Were there any confidential or secret documents there that shouldn’t have been?  What did the security service investigation find?  Who else have they hacked or tried to hack?  Should Golriz have mentioned the Russian hack or was this meant to be secret?  Will the Russian Embassy in Wellington put out a statement condemning the suggestion that Russians were hacking a Green Party MP?

Golriz claims that she is outspoken on Iranian human rights abuses. She is not. In fact, she has been criticised by Whaleoil for not speaking out to defend the women of Iran. There are constant reports of human rights abuses in Iran and she is conspicuous by her absence.  There was one paragraph in her Maiden Speech about the regime and one of her main concerns was that “everyone feared their phones being tapped”.  Phone taps!  That was her concern.

She repeats that concern about phone taps in a New Zealand Law Society article, 3 November 2017, where she says:

You couldn’t talk on the phone. End quote.

What was a 9-year-old doing talking about politics on the phone?  To whom?  Of all the human rights concerns, why is phone tapping so important?  There are so many to list, just read any US State Department report on Human Rights in Iran.  Here are some extracts from their latest report and you might reasonably think that phone tapping is not one of the worst things that are happening in Iran: Quote.

The most significant human rights issues included a high number of executions for crimes not meeting the international legal standard of “most serious crimes” and without fair trials of individuals, including juvenile offenders; disappearances by government agents; torture; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention and imprisonment; […] severe restrictions on freedom of expression; […] severe restrictions on the rights of assembly and association; […] elections where the regime pre-selected the candidates […] and severely limited political participation;  pervasive government corruption in all branches and at all levels of government; trafficking in persons; and governmental restrictions on the rights of women and minorities.  LGBTI status and/or conduct remained criminalized and subject to the death penalty and LGBTI persons faced arrest, official harassment, and intimidation, as well as cruel and degrading treatment by security officials.  There were also severe restrictions on independent trade unions. end quote.

The UK citizen, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been imprisoned in Evin Prison since April 2016 and was released for 3 days in August 2018 to see her daughter, then locked up again: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe back in prison, The Guardian, 27 August 2018.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter before returning to prison. Photograph: Family

There has been no reported comment from Golriz condemning that situation.

In my opinion, Golriz has misled parliament with her claims of war and persecution.

She has misled the voters and she continues to mislead them.

In the Vice article, Golriz mentioned that she might not seek re-election but I think that she will if the Green Party let her.  She will not resign because she has no shame even though she knows that the public has seen through her inconsistent and vague stories.

The Green Party must surely see her as a liability that affects their overall chances of success.

She may be preparing for them to jettison her, and for her to save face by saying she will not run because “it’s all too much”. Or will they let her go quietly and send her for study leave at Harvard University, but keep her on the payroll?

It was only “all too much” because Golriz got herself into this problem with a backstory that wasn’t consistent, was vague, implausible and changed at every opportunity.  If she was just another migrant-made-good, no one would have cared.

 

by Ratbag


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A guest post submitted to Whaleoil and edited by Whaleoil staff.

Guest Post content does not necessarily reflect the views of the site or its editor. Guest Post content is offered for discussion and for alternative points of view.

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