Iran’s hard position on returnees makes Panah’s detention unjust

Green Party Immigration Spokesperson MP Keith Locke says that an Iranian Embassy press statement today has shown how unlikely it is that Iran will withdraw its requirement that deportees must sign passport documents.

“Immigration Minister David Cunliffe is dreaming if he thinks there is going an agreement with Iran any time soon, that would enable the return of Iranian Christians like Ali Panah,” Mr Locke says.

“The Iranian press statement today says explicitly that Iranian deportees must have ‘valid ID documents’ requiring their ‘written application.’

“Converts to Christianity like Ali Panah are never going to sign such documents, if it means that they are going to be returned to likely persecution in Iran.

“A compassionate government would live with this, and not put Christian converts in jail indefinitely to force them to sign the papers. We now know the huge injustice this leads to, with Ali Panah – after 18 months in detention with no end in sight, he resorted to a hunger strike to win his freedom,” Mr Locke says.