Former NZ Foreign Minister responds to his predecessor’s remark on Iranian diplomat

November 5, 2017 Agencies
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New Zealand National Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson and foreign minister in the recently defeated government Gerry Brownlee says reports that an Iranian diplomat delivered what was effectively a hate speech at an Auckland mosque in June raises questions as to why Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters hasn’t already required the withdrawal of the diplomat’s credentials and his removal from the country.

Gerry Greenlee

But new foreign minister Winston Peters believes the hate speech should have been dealt with his predecessor..

Gerry Brownlee said: “Diplomats have a privileged position in most societies, allowing them to best represent the relationship between the country they’re from and the country they’re 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.

Winston Peters

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

But Foreign Minister Winston Peters responded to Gerry Brownlee’s comment saying: “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.

 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 can’t possibly fix up every mistake and omission that the last National Government has made.”

 

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