New Zealanders are up in arms in response to escalating protests in Iran. The New Zealand Iranian community is fiercely condemning the violence against women and calling for more support from government.
Multicultural New Zealand (MNZ) is also driving the need for change. “Multicultural New Zealand condemns all harm to women. This is not just a women's rights issue but a matter of basic human rights.” says MNZ President, Pancha Narayanan.
Mr. Narayanan urges more action is needed from the New Zealand government. “The New Zealand Government cannot stop taking a strong position on this because of how they think it will impact relationships with other trading partners. This is a poor representation of our values as a nation.” Naryanan says. “Strong feelings in the community arise from these events, and on that stance the nation has to have a firm principle.”
On principle New Zealand needs to make the absolute strongest condemnation of the treatment of women in Iran. As a member of the United Nations, New Zealand must use the available human and women's rights processes, as well as diplomatic channels, to effect immediate action to make sure women's rights are preserved and their safety is assured.
Calls have come from within parliament for the expulsion of the Iranian ambassador to NZ. Narayanan supports this call. “It is imperative to impress the intolerable nature of this situation upon the Iranian government. We must communicate clearly and firmly that we do not do things this way anymore,” he says.
Government has been called to action. Multicultural New Zealand urges:
- Politicans, ministers, religious groups, womens groups and national bodies to seriously consider having a conversation with the Iranian community. Understand the basic and universal rights of women and the situation in Iran.
- New Zealand men to get behind this conversation led by women
- New Zealand to recognise that this is not a question of religion but one of basic human rights
- That keeping people who stand up for these basic rights safe in NZ is our protective responsibility as government, community and individuals
Local safety must come first. New Zealand’s credibility will not be strong if it only has a view on international matters. MNZ is concerned about levels of stress, mental health and safety among local Iranian communities. “We need to make sure [the women] are safe from any unfounded discrimination or harassment based on misinterpreted religious values.” Narayanan states. MNZ raises the alarm to government, warning them to be aware of the potential for these things either as isolated incidents or covert initiatives.