Blog campaign: We can't turn them away
I'm writing to ask your support for a blog-based campaign to write letters to MPs, asking that the Government grant the right of asylum to all Iraqis who have worked for the British Army, the old Coalition Provisional Authority-South and contractors in the 'British zone' of Iraq, and to their families.
Whatever one's views on the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the subsequent occupation, I hope you can agree that the British Government owes a clear moral debt to shelter Iraqis whose lives are at risk because they gave help to British soldiers sent to war by the vote of the House of Commons. Iraqis who have worked for us- and their families- are at risk of being murdered if they remain in Southern Iraq, as some already have been. If they flee to neighbouring Middle Eastern countries, they will live desperately uncertain, poverty-stricken lives, and they may also be targeted for assassination by jihadists. These people can and should be accommodated in this country.
If you do agree with this view, can I please ask you to publish the post below as soon as possible, or something based on it, making a number of suggestions for a letter to MPs? I would be very grateful to you if you did. I would also be very grateful if you could write to your own MP, and if you could 'tag' five other bloggers with the same request. I've put URLs of some relevant articles below, so you can use them as links using your own blogging software.
This is an unsolicited email, so please feel free to send me an 'unsubscribe' message if you don't wish me to contact you again. Don't hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss any of this in more detail. By all means post the material below under a different title or with amendments.
''WE CAN'T TURN THEM AWAY
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.
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' 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. ''
Thank you Dan. I am writing my letter now.