Dan Hardie has
suggested petitioning members of parliament on the matter of Iraqis who
have worked for the British forces in Southern Iraq who now fine
themselves in increasing danger. It seems that, now they’ve done their
bit, they’re on their own, thanks. We’re turning them away and they
have to make for the borders in the hope of reaching safety in
Here’s some guidelines and pointers for writing to your MP.
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.
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. (See here and here.)
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
stating that they are at risk from jihadi violence: and yet we are
still refusing to admit them to the United Kingdom.
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‘ 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
- 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
- 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
It is best that those of us deciding to write a letter do so in a personal fashion – form letters and mass-mailouts are frowned upon by our elected representatives and often end up in the bin.
Dan suggests tagging five other bloggers to pass the message on but
I’d like to instead ask that anybody reading this post on their own
blogs and write a letter themselves. Feel free to cut and paste this
copy into blogs or into emails to non-blogging friends who might also
write to their MP.
Update: And there’s this:
The United States ambassador in Iraq, Ryan Cocker, has
called for all Iraqis working for the US government to be granted
refugee status in recognition of the dangers they face.
HatTip Chicken Yoghurt