Foreign Minister and his Shadow trade accusations

Venkat Raman

Iranian diplomat Hormoz Gharemani has earned the wrath of most New Zealanders for this ‘extreme hate speech’ at the Pakuranga Mosque.

The Human Rights Commission reacted to a complaint from the Israel Institute of New Zealand describing people like Mr Gharemani who denied that the Holocaust occurred as ‘liars’ (Please read related story in this Section).

Gerry Brownlee, who was Foreign Affairs Minister in June 2017 and now National Party Foreign Affairs Spokesman, issued the following statement today.

Hateful diplomat should be expelled

Reports that an Iranian diplomat delivered a hate speech at an Auckland Mosque in June raises questions as to why Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters had not already required the withdrawal of the diplomat’s credentials and his removal from the country.

Diplomats have a privileged position in most societies, allowing them to best represent the relationship between the country they are from and the country they are posted to.

Inciting racial tension by making anti-Semitic statements is the antithesis of that important role, regardless of the context or setting in which the comments were made.

Racial Disharmony offences under the Human Rights Act are quite clear, and a complaint has already been made to the Human Rights Commission over these offensive comments.

As Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Peters should act without hesitation by requiring the offending diplomat to leave the country.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters responded as follows:

On becoming Foreign Minister and upon learning of the Iranian Diplomat’s comments in June of this year, the following press statement was released by my ministry:

We are aware of the reported comments which were made at an event several months ago.

Clearly, we do not agree. These comments will be deeply offensive to many people in New Zealand and elsewhere. Following the publication, we called in the Iranian Ambassador to express our disappointment at the participation in the event by a diplomat from the Iranian Embassy.

Although the diplomat’s remarks focused on Iranian government policy, we have made it clear to the Ambassador that we do not expect foreign representatives to New Zealand to participate in events where hate speech could be used.

Constructive Dialogue

New Zealand continues to encourage a constructive dialogue between Iran and the international community.

I am alarmed that Mr Brownlee is seeking to chastise me for an action that he should have taken months before the election.

We are heading into a new era and looking positively towards the future, and I cannot possibly fix up every mistake and omission that the last National Government has made.

Our Comment: Diplomacy takes its course and the Government of the day knows best how to react to situations. Mr Brownlee was obviously doing his job as an Opposition Spokesman. In diplomatic terms, the current Government has conducted Tour D’ Horizon, the first step on a ‘Diplomatic Issue.’

Photo Caption:

  1. Winston Peters
  2. Gerry Brownlee

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