Two elements in a powerful message from Iranian refugee (and  NZ MP) Golriz Ghahraman

Few regimes in the world are more despotic than the current rulers in Iran. Sadly,  there is  little sign yet that the  Iranian population  can be  freed  from it.

New Zealanders got a  glimpse of the conditions under which Iranians are living when earlier this year two NZ  travellers were  detained by the regime, and were only freed  after tense negotiations by NZ diplomats.

A deeper insight comes from Green MP Golriz Ghahraman who in an article  that appeared in last week’s Guardian Weekly wrote that being an Iranian woman is a heavy birthright.

“It comes with knowing a true, deep, feminism,while also knowing violent oppression at the hand of the government ruling our homeland.

“And for millions of us, it means  displacement”.

She goes on to relate how she and her parents were granted political asylum in Aotearoa New Zealand when she was 9 years old. “We were never to return to Iran.Like most Iranian refugees, as long as the Islamic regime remains in power, our fear of persecution persists”.

She says  they have missed the births and death of loved ones.“But what the world has learned over the 60+ days of revolution in Iran is that exiled Iranians have never lost our fervent connection with the plight of our people back home.

“I hope that sends a chill down the spine of the Iranian regime”.

Ghahraman believes what is stunning  is “that our movement today is global, led by the breathtaking courage of protesters in Iran, and amplified by Iranians around the world.

“None of us have slept a full night in the two months since the death of Mahsa Amini, the  young Kurdish woman who died in the custody of the ‘morality police’ after being arrested under  hijab laws. She became a symbol of our pain. Every one of us has known the violence of that regime. Every Iranian  knows someone flogged, detained, tortured or killed”.

Ghahraman tells her Guardian readers  that last month in faraway NZ, she and others  gathered at the Iranian embassy. “We knew the ambassador was inside….Police officers told us the ambassador was inside, reporting a public disturbance. But protest is  not illegal in Aotearoa.

“The diaspora movement of Iranians  has the power of freedom. We get to criticise our western governments for their inaction on Iranian human rights. In my case, I get to be elected to NZ’s Parliament as the first ever refugee  and a Middle Eastern woman. I get to meet with our minister of  foreign affairs  and our prime minister to outline exactly what we need.

“What we need  is to freeze  Iranian assets and bank accounts. Outlaw their funding mechanisms, designate them as terrorists known to be responsible for atrocities  against our people. That must include leaders of the Revolutionary Guard, who have tortured and killed for 43 years”.

Ghahraman argues that  the act of separating so many Iranians from their homeland is one of the worst impacts of this regime.

“But it could also be the vehicle for its downfall”.

For this  member of the Point of Order team, who visited  Teheran when the current regime was in its first months in office,  the message Ghahraman has conveyed  so vividly  revived memories of  an already oppresive regime.

  That message  should also make New Zealanders cherish their own  freedom.

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