Greens MP Golriz Ghahraman defends Iraq war claims

For the second time in as many days, Greens MP Golriz Ghahraman has had to fend off online attacks on her credibility.

Iran-born Ms Ghahraman was heralded as New Zealand's first refugee MP, when she entered Parliament on the Greens list two months ago.

On Tuesday, she was forced to refute claims she had misled the public over her involvement in Rwanda war crimes trials, where she had helped defend clients accused of human rights atrocities.  

On Wednesday, Ms Ghahraman was called to task over her claims that, as a child, she had dodged bombs during the Iran-Iraq conflict that ravaged her country.

"I remember the bombs, the sirens, running to the basement… waiting," she said in her maiden speech this month.

"Mostly, I remember the kids my age, who stopped speaking because of shellshock."

But as blogger David Farrar pointed out, her childhood home of Mashhad was far from the fighting and largely escaped damage.

"Actually, it appears to be as far away from Iraq as one can get," says Mr Farrar on Kiwiblog. "It is almost by the border with Turkmenistan - around 1600km away. 

"Now it is possible Ghahraman lived somewhere else, other than Mashhad. Maybe they moved towns to get away from the war.

"But it would be useful to clarify this apparent inconsistency."

When approached by Newshub, Ms Ghahraman provided her explanation.

"Before moving to New Zealand at the age of nine, I was raised in Mashhad, Iran," she said. "Mashhad did not experience air raids during the war - I never said it was.

"Where I did experience air raids and bombings - on multiple occasions - was while visiting my auntie and uncle, who lived in Tehran, where we would go during our school holidays.

"It was my experiences in Tehran that I was referring to in my maiden speech."

While Mr Farrar insisted his questioning wasn't personal, several of those commenting on his blog were less empathetic.

"She has just been caught being clever with the truth and how her back-story has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese," said one.

Former Labour Party staffer Phil Quin tweeted for Ms Ghahraman to resign for covering up her true involvement in Rwanda war crimes, claiming she was a genocide denier.

But she told The AM Show on Wednesday morning that she had never denied her law work for the United Nations before.

Ms Ghahraman told Newshub she did a three-month internship on the defence team for the trial of Joseph Nzirorera, who died before he could be convicted of genocide.

She also worked on the appeals case for Simon Bikindi, who was convicted of using songs to incite the 1994 genocide.

"Those trials are about the defence being there as well, otherwise we wouldn't have trials - we'd taken them out the back.

"Having the defence ensures that."