Golriz Ghahraman slams Bill English over 'politics by fear'

  • 01/02/2017

Former refugee, UN human rights lawyer, and Green Party candidate Golriz Ghahraman has slammed Prime Minister Bill English over his comments on Middle Eastern asylum seekers.

"New Zealand is now seen as a soft touch for other fascists, terrorists, whoever is on the losing side in bad regimes, unwanted at home and unable to get into any other country," he said in a National Party newsletter on May 9, 2005.

"If you turn up to the border with an apple, you get done. If you turn up with an Iraqi passport and references from Saddam Hussein, you get in," he wrote.

"We need migrants, but we don't need leftovers from Middle East terrorist regimes."

He backed up his comments at a news conference on Wednesday.

"Well, you don't need terrorists here and if one turns up at the border with a reference from Saddam Hussein or other terrorist credentials then they won't be allowed in."

However, Ms Ghahraman attacks his views as "dehumanising" and "callous".

"They are clearly untrue - they are clearly inaccurate. They are alternative facts essentially, they are politics by fear, which is what the politics of Donald Trump are based on," she told Newshub.

"It's seeking to get a reaction, and it seems he doesn't mind that the reaction will be based on untrue descriptions of what is actually happening at the border. What he is saying is that refugees are in cahoots with people like Saddam Hussein.

"At that time, a refugee from Iraq would have been escaping from Saddam Hussein. To say the exact opposite in public shows the same affinity for using fear to rule that Donald Trump has shown."

Ms Ghahraman says Mr English's remarks on refugees are heartless.

"That's incredibly dehumanising, it's callous," she says.

"To call these people the leftovers, to say we should shun them - it's cruel, it's creating a hierarchy of human lives."