New Zealand extends favour asylum-seekers of Iran.
The five-year battle of Panah to avoid the deportation to Iran came to an end on the 13th of February after the Refugee Status Appeals Authority overturned the earlier ruling by the New Zealand court which said that people who converted from Islam to Christian where not mistreated by the Iranian government.
Since twenty months, Panah has been kept in administrative detention because he was not agreeing to signing papers that were mandatory for his expulsion. He also staged a hunger strike of fifty-two days after which he was paroled into the custody of the New Zealand’s Anglican Church last year. He got the support from Archbishop David Moxon, who appealed to the government to exercise kindness. David said that deporting Panah back to Iran would not be safe for him.
In the court, the Immigration Service of New Zealand challenged the claim of Panah that he would be persecuted if deported to Iran. David Cunliffe, Immigration Minister, said on the 3rd of September, 2007, that there has been no reported case about any returnee being killed or severely persecuted in Iran.
But the legislation brought by President Mahmoud Amadinejad’s government before the Iranian Majlis last year enforces a death sentence for people who convert from Islam. Thus, Grant Illingworth, the lawyer of Panah, said that his client would in any case be punished for converting from Islam to Christian, and the punishment would be the death penalty.
After the verdict, Panah said that he is really happy with the decision and it means a new life for him in New Zealand. He thanked everyone who supported him and prayed for him.