We can’t turn them away

In the absence of any original content, here’s a duplicate of Dan Hardie’s highly worthwhile plea to ensure we don’t abandon the Iraqis who helped us in Basra to be murdered for their collaboration. Dan’s words below. I’ve not added a fold, since there’s sod-all else content for it to get in the way of…

Since British troops occupied Southern Iraq in the spring of 2003, thousands of Iraqi citizens have worked for the British Army, the Coalition Provisional Authority ()South) and for contractors serving UK forces. There is now considerable evidence that their lives, and the lives of their families, are at risk: some former workers for the British have been murdered, and many others have fled to neighbouring countries or gone into hiding in Basra. The British Government, for whom they were ultimately working, has not offered them the right of asylum in the UK. This is morally unacceptable. It is also unnecessary, since we are well able to accommodate several thousand Iraqi refugees, most of whom already speak English and all of whom have already worked for our country.

The most detailed recent report, by Jonathan Miller of Channel Four news, notes the murder of 17 translators in one single incident in Basra. It cites the cases of hundreds of others who have fled to a refugee existence in nearby Middle Eastern countries or are in hiding in Iraq. (Channel 4 article) The British Government response has come from the Home Office, which has suggested that Iraqis put at risk by their work for British troops ‘register with the UN refugee agency’. Other reports provide supporting detail: Iraqis are being  targeted for murder because they have worked for British forces (Independent article; Times article)

Marie Colvin’s report for the Times of April 8 speaks of desperate former workers for the British Army being turned away from the British embassy in Syria by staff who had orders not to admit any Iraqis. These brave men and women have testimonials written by British officers

If you feel that this is unacceptable and that Britain should prevent Iraqis from being murdered for the ‘crime’ of working for British troops, could you please write to your MP and ask him or her to press the Government for action. You can use the excellent website ‘Write to Them’ (http://www.writetothem.com/) or post a letter yourself.

Please be courteous when writing to your MP. It would be a good idea to read the reports above, and cite relevant facts. We would suggest that your letter could contain the following points:

  • It is morally unacceptable that Britain should abandon people who are at risk because they worked for British soldiers and diplomats.
  • This country will be shamed if any more Iraqis are murdered for the ‘crime’ of having supported UK forces.
  • Iraqis who worked for British forces should not be told to leave Iraq and throw themselves on the mercy of United Nations relief agencies in Arab countries: these agencies are already being overwhelmed by the outflow of Iraqi refugees, and Iraqi refugees who have worked for British diplomats or troops may well be targeted by local jihadists.
  • There is plentiful evidence that armed groups in Iraq kill the families of those they consider ‘enemies': for this reason we must extend the right of asylum to the families of those who worked for us.
  • It is entirely practical for this country’s troops in Iraq, and its embassies in neighbouring countries, to take in Iraqis who have worked for us and fly them to the UK. Indeed, there is already considerable anger among British servicemen that Iraqis are being abandoned in this way.
  • This country is large enough and rich enough to accommodate several thousand Iraqi refugees. Denmark has already given asylum to all 200 Iraqis who worked for its smaller occupying force.
  • It does not matter what your MP’s views (or what your views) are on the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. People who risked their lives for this country’s soldiers are now being abandoned by the British Government. Their lives can and must be saved by their being granted the right of asylum in this country.
  • This policy should be implemented regardless of whether British soldiers stay in Iraq or are soon withdrawn. But it must be introduced soon: applications for asylum cannot be processed in a lengthy fashion, as the security situation in Basra is deteriorating rapidly, and delay is likely to lead to further killings of Iraqis who worked for British troops.
  1. Wolfie said:

    I have a question though. If we take all those people who have assisted in the allied forces in Iraq as refugees, who will be left to re-build the country when we are gone? When we have a lion’s share of the educated and brave? Isn’t this going to cripple the country in the long-term and leave it to the extremists?

    Britain has historically been through violent and troubled periods. Isn’t the fact that most stood their ground rather than turn tail and emigrate the very reason that peace was restored and our country became a better place?

    Since the start of the Iraq war quite a lot (I don’t have figures) of the most educated Iraqis have sought asylum in other countries and no doubt this is not helping Iraq rebuild into some semblance of normality. Indeed isn’t it following the common Globalization pattern where western countries readily accept people who are a thorn in the side of despotic regimes who govern resource-rich countries with whom we have a vested interest in maintaining the status-quo?

  2. aidan said:

    “Britain has historically been through violent and troubled periods. Isn’t the fact that most stood their ground rather than turn tail and emigrate the very reason that peace was restored and our country became a better place?”

    You would compare what period of British history with the ongoing mass psychosis in Iraq?

    During the blitz the enemy was in the sky or across the channel. There was a tremendous sense of solidarity among Brits. After the war the last thing flag waving, fountain wading victors in Trafalgar Square wanted to do was run off and hide somewhere.

    The IRA campaign on the UK mainland was a walk in the park. Compared to the savagery on the loose in Iraq, provisional IRA ‘warnings’ prior to hitting a pub seem almost gentlemanly. They even used to issue apologies in Belfast for killing or injuring civilians.

    So what’s left … Normans? Viking raids? Romans?

    No – Iraq is in a class of its own. The weaponry is more high tech. The insurgents brutal and without a shred of conscience. A land in which you can’t trust your own shadow, or even your own mother. Courageous Iraqis who risked life and limb to work with British forces have been fingered by those in the know. When the Brits leave, there will be hell to pay.

    Morally speaking, there is no argument. The UK absolutely must offer assistance to such people to leave and re-settle should they chose to do so. Maybe at some point in the future, they can return and offer the expertise you refer to. However they won’t be much help if they’re floating down the Tigris with a bag over their head.

  3. Wolfie said:

    I thought it was obvious I was referring to our civil war. I think you can call Iraq that now.

    Still it doesn’t answer my question and I don’t see how things will get better (for them to return) all by itself.

    “Morally speaking, there is no argument”, is a convenient response but like you even admit – not an argument.