Time for Government to show compassion to Panah – Locke

After visiting Iranian Ali Panah in prison yesterday Green MP Keith Locke called for urgent Government intervention.

Mr Panah has been fasting for 51 days without solid food in Auckland Central Remand prison, to stop his deporation to Iran, and to get him freed from prison.

“I found Mr Panah to be spiritually strong and very determined, but his body is weakening,” Mr Locke, the party’s Human Rights Spokesperson says.

“His stomach and liver were sore, and he has lost more weight in the week since I last saw him.

“In my four visits to Mr Panah it is absolutely clear that he is a dedicated Christian. Everything he is doing, including his fast, has a religious inspiration. All his conversations are spiced with Biblical references. There would be few Christians who could better quote chapter and verse.

“Yesterday, one of his Biblical references was that ‘there is a time for everything’. The time now is for the Government to exercise compassion before Mr Panah’s condition deteriorates further and becomes critical.

“It would be quite simple to grant Mr Panah a temporary visa while the Minister looks again at the facts of Mr Panah’s case, particularly the danger of him being persecuted in Iran as a convert from Islam to Christianity.

“Mr Panah is a warm and gentle man, a Christian who is tolerant of all other religions. He deserves better from New Zealand.”