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New Zealand’s First Refugee in Parliament Resigns Over Shoplifting Accusations

Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images
Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images

A New Zealand lawmaker resigned on Tuesday after accused of shoplifting, saying she takes “full responsibility” for her actions. “It is clear to me that my mental health is being badly affected by the stresses relating to my work,” Golriz Ghahraman, a Green Party MP, said in a public statement. “This has led me to act in ways that are completely out of character.” She added, “I fell short. I’m sorry. The best thing for my mental health is to resign as a member of Parliament.” A 43-year-old former United Nations human rights lawyer, Ghahraman came to Auckland as a child seeking political asylum from Iran. In 2017, she became the first refugee elected to New Zealand’s Parliament. The shoplifting allegations, which Ghahraman did not mention in her statement, first surfaced in New Zealand media earlier this month. James Shaw, a leader of the Green Party, said that Ghahraman had been the target of violent threats from the beginning of her term, and that she had suffered from exposure to higher levels of stress than most politicians.

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