Greens concerned about Ali Panah’s return to hospital

Green Party Human Rights Spokesperson MP Keith Locke is worried about the fate of Ali Panah, the Iranian Christian who was returned to Auckland hospital today from Auckland Remand Prison.

“This is alarming news. After 50 days without solid food, Ali Panah’s condition is not good. The Government must stop dodging the humanitarian issue that is central to this case,” Mr Locke says.

“Mr Panah has good reason to be fearful of persecution if he returns to Iran. Earlier this month, the Catholic News Agency reported that a man had been lashed 34 times in Tehran after a Bible printed in Farsi was found in his car. For Christian converts from Islam, the punishment can be even worse.

“When I visited Ali in the prison medical wing on Sunday his condition was not good, and it has clearly deteriorated since then.

“The Government’s initial step would be easy enough. It can release Mr Panah from prison on a temporary visa, or at least support a bail application of the sort granted to another Iranian Christian convert, Thomas Yadegary, earlier this year.

“This would provide a breathing space to sort out the points at issue for Iranian Christians — which include the Government’s obligations under the relevant UN conventions – in a considered and compassionate manner,” Mr Locke says.