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Prison protest today (Saturday)


28 October 2006

Media Release:

Amnesty International supports freedom for Thomas Yadegary


Prison protest today (Saturday)

Amnesty International has added its voice in support of the release of Thomas Yadegary from Auckland's Mt Eden prison.

Supporters of Thomas Yadegary will gather outside Auckland's Mt Eden prison from 2pm to 3pm to call on the government to release him from 23 months of incarceration without trial or charge.

In a letter to Thomas's lawyer late last week Amnesty has reported in detail on the up-to-date situation in Iran for Christian converts such as Thomas. As a result of this comprehensive review Amnesty has concluded-

"Amnesty International believes it is not now safe for Mr Yadegary to be returned to Iran, and any such return would see New Zealand in breach of its international human rights obligations.

Amnesty International therefore supports My Yadegary's immediate removal from prison and for him to be provided with a "complimentary form of protection" which would allow him to reside and work in New Zealand until such time as it is safe for him to return home."

Amnesty's position will be highlighted at the prison protest today where copies of the detailed Amnesty analysis will be available.

Amnesty International's position directly contradicts that of the Minister of Immigration who has repeatedly claimed it would be safe for Thomas to be returned to Iran.

Background:
Thomas is an Iranian who is being held because he refuses to sign papers which would result in him being forced to return to Iran where his life would be at risk.

Late last month 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.

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's ironic that as an MP, David Cunliffe wrote a strong letter (3 pages) of support for Thomas and closely argued his case to remain in New Zealand. Cunliffe himself is now the Minister of Immigration and deaf to all appeals on Thomas's behalf.

Thomas's continuing incarceration is a travesty of natural justice and a disgraceful abuse of human rights.

We have our own little Guantánamo Bay right here in the heart of Mount Eden.

Public support for Thomas has been growing quickly. Both the National Party and United Future are backing him to stay as is the Catholic community and Catholic bishop. (Thomas converted to Catholicism 9 years ago)

Thomas is due to appear in court on Friday November 3rd and GPJA will join his supporters in court for his appearance.

Ends

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