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Govt must condemn death sentence for blasphemy


Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Dunne: Govt must condemn death sentence for blasphemy

UnitedFuture Leader Peter Dunne is calling for the Prime Minister to meet urgently with the Afghani Ambassador over the impending execution of student Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh in Afghanistan.

“I wholeheartedly support the call from the Auckland University Student Association for the New Zealand to pressure the Afghanistan Government to overturn the death sentence handed down to this student who merely exercised his rights to freedom of speech,” said Mr Dunne.

23 year old Mr Kambakhsh faces execution for blasphemy over an online article which is critical of the treatment of woman in the Koran. He was convicted by a religious court in a trial that reportedly lasted no longer than four minutes, in which he was not allowed any legal representation or allowed to speak in his defence.

“The sentence handed down to Mr Kambakhsh is a breach of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

“New Zealand has worked in conjunction with many other nations in building a new democracy in Afghanistan. We need to send a clear signal to the Afghanistan Government that freedom of speech and human rights are priorities of our commitment and that the current situation of religious persecution is unacceptable.”

While most people support the work that our troops are doing, New Zealanders were led to believe that the overthrow of the Taleban would lead to greater freedom and liberalisation.”

“It is time for New Zealand to use our leverage and stand up for fundamental human rights. If the Government is unwilling to do so then the question needs to be asked, why are we there,” said Mr Dunne.

ENDS

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