Labour’s Own Guantánamo Bay – Here in Mt Eden
For the past 23 months Thomas Yadegary, an Iranian, has been imprisoned without charge or trial in Auckland’s Mt Eden prison.
Last week Associate Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove once again washed his hands of Thomas’s situation so his detention is due to continue indefinitely.
Thomas came to New Zealand in 1993 and applied for refugee status. For 12 years he worked hard and was a model citizen. Despite the strong support of a wide circle of friends and his Christian community, which includes support from his Catholic bishop, his application was turned down and on 1 November 2004 he was taken into custody at Mt Eden to await deportation. He has been there since.
Photo of Thomas with Bill Clinton: This photo shows Thomas when he met with Bill Clinton while Thomas was working as a chef at the Auckland hotel Clinton was visiting.
Because Iran is not safe for him to return the government has been pressuring him to sign an agreement absolving the Minister from responsibility in the likely case that Thomas is arrested, tortured or killed on his return to Iran. Thomas has refused to endanger his life by doing so and has therefore been placed in an absolutely impossible situation by the government.
The government is effectively keeping him hostage in prison – to be released only if he agrees to being deported to Iran! This is the type of human rights tragedy the government has condemned in many countries around the world in a variety of contexts. It is unconscionable that this should occur in New Zealand.
Labour’s record on immigration has been unbelievably inhumane. The simple truth is that if Thomas Yadegary were a white Zimbabwean farmer he would not be treated as he is now.
It’s ironic that as an MP, David Cunliffe wrote a glowing letter of support for Thomas and said he would do all he could to support him. Cunliffe himself is now the Minister of Immigration and deaf to all appeals on Thomas’s behalf.
It is quite impossible to believe that had Thomas been a white Zimbabwean farmer he would have been treated in such a shameful, appalling way by a country which professes support for human rights.
Thomas’s continuing incarceration is a travesty of natural justice and a disgraceful abuse of human rights.
We have our own little Guantanemo Bay right here in the heart of Mount Eden.
GPJA will discuss protest action in support of Thomas at a meeting in Auckland this evening.