Politics is most certainly about perception and if you look at the publicity blurb surrounding the first refugee elected to our Parliament you would come away thinking Golriz Ghahraman who was born in Iran was a human rights battler, pure and simple.

In her maiden speech she talked about living in Africa, working on genocide trials and learning how prejudice turns into atrocity. She waxed about politicians scapegoating groups for any social ills, using dehumanising language in the media for their own gain.

Ghahraman went on to say she saw that at the Rwanda Tribunal, at The Hague and when she prosecuted the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Now listening to that you'd think she was the battler she's been painted as.


And that was reinforced by The Greens who are very good at presenting the narrative that suits their purpose, although the narrative surrounding their former co-leader Metiria Turei obviously got out of control and almost led to their undoing.

In their blurb about their new MP, The Greens said her work has focused on enforcing human rights and holding governments to account. Golriz, they tell us, has lived and worked in Africa, The Hague and Cambodia, putting on trial world leaders for abusing their power and restoring communities after war and human rights atrocities.

Now that leaves the clear impression she was the champion of bringing these people to justice.

But in fact at the Rwandan Tribunal she was representing the war criminals in the genocide of around eight hundred thousand Tutsis. She complained about how poorly resourced the defence was. It was as though the United Nations didn't really believe in the process, she opined.

She's now saying she wasn't responsible for The Greens' blurb which may be the case. But it seems she did little to correct it.

Few would argue that at any trial, regardless of how heinous the crime is, there's prosecution and defence. Even the Nazis were defended at Nuremberg.

You could argue though for Ghahraman to initially volunteer to work for the Rwandan defence and champion herself as a human rights lawyer leaves the wrong impression.

But in 36-year-old's defence at least she fronted up to argue her case, insisting she's never denied that she worked for the perpetrators of widespread abuse. That may be so, but others and she herself have conveniently overlooked it in presenting the positive.


She maintains she simply contributed to the accountability mechanism which is why she's worked for both sides.

It's just that one side has been consistently and conveniently highlighted over the other.