Golriz Ghahraman scrutiny over Rwanda defence

New Green MP  Golriz Ghahraman is under scrutiny again, this time her record as a human rights lawyer is being examined.

David Farrar seems to have kicked this off at Kiwiblog: Ghahraman defended not prosecuted the genociders in Rwanda

There is nothing wrong with being a defence lawyer – even for war criminals.

But the issue here is the way the Greens have selectively published material that makes it looks like she was prosecuting, not defending.

She did later go on to prosecute in Cambodia, and again there is nothing wrong with having started as a defence lawyer so you could gain experience to become a prosecutor.  But this is not the story that we were told.

Her own maiden speech glosses over her work in Rwanda:

It was living in Africa working on genocide trials where I then learned how prejudice turns to atrocity. Politicians scapegoating groups, as a group, for any social ills, dehumanising language in the media, used for political gain-
Every time I see that I think: That’s how is how it starts.

I saw that at the Rwanda Tribunal, at The Hague and when I prosecuted the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Very clever. It doesn’t state she prosecuted in Rwanda but you clearly gain that impression as she lumps it in with prosecuting in Cambodia.

This story has spread. Barry Soper: Greens blurring the lines once again

Politics is most certainly about perception and if you look at the publicity blurb surrounding the first refugee elected to our Parliament you’d come away thinking Golriz Ghahraman who was born in Iran was a human rights battler, pure and simple.

In her maiden speech, she talked about living in Africa, working on genocide trials and learning how prejudice turns into atrocity. She waxed about politicians scapegoating groups for any social ills, using dehumanising language in the media for their own gain.

Ghahraman went on to say she saw that at the Rwanda Tribunal, at The Hague and when she prosecuted the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Now listening to that you’d think she was the battler she’s been painted as.

And that was reinforced by The Greens who are very good at presenting the narrative that suits their purpose, although the narrative surrounding their former co-leader Metiria Turei obviously got out of control and almost led to their undoing.

In their blurb about their new MP, The Greens said her work has focused on enforcing human rights and holding governments to account. Golriz, they tell us, has lived and worked in Africa, The Hague and Cambodia, putting on trial world leaders for abusing their power and restoring communities after war and human rights atrocities.

Now that leaves the clear impression she was the champion of bringing these people to justice.

But in fact, at the Rwandan Tribunal she was representing the war criminals in the genocide of around eight hundred thousand Tutsies. She complained about how poorly resourced the defence was. It was as though the United Nations didn’t really believe in the process, she opined.

She’s now saying she wasn’t responsible for the Greens’ blurb, which may be the case, but it seems she did little to correct it.

She should be responsible for how her bio is presented by her party, but as a new MP she should have been assisted more accurately than this.

The Green Party is unaccustomed to the greater levels of scrutiny imposed on parties in Government. They should be learning fast.

Ghahraman could get worn down by all this scrutiny, as some do in Parliament, or she could learn to weather these storms. She seems to be attracting more attention than any other new MPs – for example has anyone heard anything about scrutiny of new NZ First MPs?

Perhaps because she has a different background Ghahraman stands out as a target.

She is standing up to this latest scrutiny. Some criticisms have seemed fairly extreme.

NZ Herald: Golriz Ghahraman says genocide-denier comments ‘absolutely offensive’

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman says it is “absolutely offensive” to be called a genocide-denier, and insists she has not misled the public over defending people accused of genocide in Rwanda.

But she admits that her profile page on the Green Party website, which states that she has put African leaders on trial for abusing their power, “could be clearer”.

Her profile page on the Green party website says: “Golriz has lived and worked in Africa, The Hague and Cambodia, putting on trial world leaders for abusing their power.”

Ghahraman admitted that her profile page, which she didn’t write, “could be clearer, but it’s certainly not false”.

But she said she has never hid her defence work, that it’s “certainly not something I’m ashamed of”, and that international criminal justice needs both the defence and the prosecution to work well to ensure a robust system.

“It’s absolutely offensive to say that I deny genocide, because there’s nothing that’s been more important to me than to highlight genocide as an international crime.

She said that she worked as an unpaid intern as part of a team that defended Joseph Nzirorera, who died before he could be convicted of genocide, and in a paid position as part of a team representing pop singer Simon Bikindi, who was convicted for incitement to genocide.

She worked on the prosecution at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“No one is saying there is no such thing as genocide. It’s like saying a defence lawyer [defending someone charged with murder] in our justice system here is a murder-denier.

“My CV is on LinkedIn. It’s certainly not something I’m ashamed of. It’s the human rights model. We have to work on both sides.”

It’s been a tough start as an MP for Ghahraman.

‘Europe’s worst mass murders since Holocaust’

Radovan Karadzic has been found guilty of some of the worst atrocities since World War II, responsible for the genocide of something like 100,000 people.

One News reports: Bosnian-Serb leader responsible for ‘Europe’s worst mass murders since Holocaust’ gets 40 years behind bars

Forty years is as good as a life sentence for the 70 year old Serb. Good, it’s hard to see any punishment severe enough for him.

A UN court convicted former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic of genocide and nine other charges overnight.

The UN court found Karadzic guilty of genocide in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in which 8000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered.

It was Europe’s worst mass murder since the Holocaust.

Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon said Karadzic was the only person in the Bosnian Serb leadership with the power to stop the genocide.

Judge Kwon said he instead gave an order for prisoners to be transported from one location to another to be killed.

In a carefully planned operation, Serb forces transported Muslim men to sites around the Srebrenica enclave in eastern Bosnia and gunned them down before dumping their bodies into mass graves.

Kwon said Karadzic and his military commander, General Ratko Mladic, wanted “every able-bodied Bosnian Muslim male from Srebrenica to be killed.”

Karadzic was also held criminally responsible for murder.

It is appalling what some people do to other human beings, in this case to people from his own country that he as leader had responsibility for.

History has proven that one of the biggest dangers is from within one’s own country, as in Yugoslavia, Germany, China, Rwanda, Cambodia/Kampuchea.

In this case justice has resulted in prison for the rest of one person’s life, but twenty years after 100,000 people lost their lives in part at least because of him.