During her maiden speech, Golriz Ghahraman said:
This was just the backdrop to a bloody war we fought against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. I remember the bombs, the sirens, running to the basement. Waiting. Mostly I remember the kids, my age, who stopped speaking because of shell shock.
You can well imagine if you were close to constant combat, or under rocket attack constantly that this may well occur. Israeli children often suffer such distress living under constant Arab rocket fire from Gaza.
The Iran- Iraq war was a particularly vicious affair, including the use of poison gas, chemical weapons, artillery and rocket fire, not to mention massed infantry attacks. It lasted eight years and killed several hundred thousand people. It was a terrible conflict. Wikipedia states that there were 100,000+ casualties on both sides of the war.
Fairfax reported that:
Ghahraman was nine when her family fled their home town of Mashhad in the post Iran-Iraq War.
This is where things become interesting. The Iran-Iraq War was actually a rather confined affair. As you can see from the map below the fighting was confined to the immediate border area, and in particular in the southern border area immediately north of Basra.
So where is Mashhad in relation to this eight-year border war?
Is it near the border with Iraq, where the gassing, chemical weapons, bombing and missiles occurred?
The answer is no. If I used the map above I couldn’t actually show you where the location of Mashhad is because it is near the border of Turkmenistan and it would be under the key block in the top right-hand corner, the furthest possible distance in Iran that you could get to be away from the war zone. It is, in fact, 1,600kms away from the combat zones.
Perhaps she is as confused about this as she is about whether or not she was a defence or a prosecuting lawyer in war crimes tribunals? I mean she was very young at the time, and before she embarked on a journey just two years after the war ended in 1990 in which her whole family managed to get permission to travel from Tehran to Kuala Lumpur to Auckland and supposedly on to Fiji. I imagine it must have cost a considerable amount of her family’s savings to buy such expensive long-range tickets for a little holiday in Fiji at a time when a) airfares were horrendously expensive, and b) the Iranian economy was in tatters after an expensive and debilitating eight-year war.
But I digress.
During a Radio NZ profile, it quotes her as saying she was born in Mashhad. This is interesting because in order for her to claim she was bombed and shelled and witnessed shell-shocked children her family would have had to move almost 1600km CLOSER to the combat zone than where she was born.
Of course, Mashhad may have been bombed at some point. I checked Wikipedia for the City, and it seems there was some bombing of Mashhad…in 1912…at a shrine…where several people and pilgrims were killed. But it was Russia who bombed Mashhad back in 1912, long before her parents were even a twinkle in their parents’ eyes. There was another bombing in 1994, when Golriz Gharhaman was 13 years old. Perhaps it was this bombing that caused her to see shellshocked children and suffer bombs and rockets?
Well, no. Because by 1994 she was in New Zealand as an asylum seeker with her parents, and the bombing took place at a shrine which killed 25 people.
There simply is no record of her birthplace ever being involved in the Iran-Iraq war. It was simply too far away from the border areas.
So, Mashhad has only ever been bombed twice, once in 1912 and again in 1994. She wasn’t born in 1912 and wasn’t in Mashhad in 1994.
I have now reached the point where I cannot believe a word this woman says. Not a single thing she says stacks up.
What makes matters somewhat problematic for her now is that she made her claims in Parliament. There is now prima facie evidence that she misled parliament. Unfortunately, that requires a member to lay a Privileges Committee complain, but National seems rather squeamish in saying anything much at all about the apparent mis-speaking of Golriz Gharhaman. It is a serious matter to mislead parliament, surely some honourable member might like to take some action?
Now to potential weapons systems, even though we know none were ever fired at much less hit Mashhad.
It can’t have been FROG or SCUD missiles, their maximum range is only 800km. They wouldn’t have even reached Tehran and only about halfway to Mashhad. None of Iraq’s ballistic missiles, either liquid or solid fuel had anywhere near the range to be able bomb Mashhad. Artillery has a range at best of 50km.
That only leaves air delivery, or aircraft which could have bombed her…could it have been that even though we know Mashhad was never attacked, ever, during the Iran-Iraq War? They had Mirage F1, Su-20, Mig-21 and Mig-23, Mig-25, Tu-16, Tu-22, and French Super Etendards. Only the Tu-22 has sufficient combat radius to mount an air strike on Mashhad. But they would have had to fly a roundabout route to avoid anti-aircraft countermeasures as they crossed the entire country of Iran to deliver these bombs which never landed so that Golriz Gharhaman could have her recollections of bombs and shells landing causing children to be shell-shocked.
Unless she lived elsewhere, but surely she would have said that?
Or she is a big fat liar. In which case she has misled the House.