Monday, November 26, 2007

Iraqi employees - the ongoing nightmare

The campaign to extend a hand to Iraqi men and women who have risked not only their lives but their families' lives to help British soldiers in Iraq continues, and your help is once again needed.

Bloggers of all persuasions and backgrounds have joined journalists in raising awareness of our duty of care towards people who are being picked off one by one by death squads, tortured, beaten, maimed and killed, because they, or a member of their family, tried to help us by providing, for example, translation services, to our soldiers. The blogger who has worked tirelessly to spear head this campaign is Dan Hardie.

Such is the mess and muddle, and such is the desperation of the situation that some of the frantic people in Iraq have now begun to contact Dan themselves, to beg him for help. The compromise agreement has not been well-publicised, and so when people search online for what to do, Dan's blog comes up . Here is part of an email conversation Dan had with one terrified man

'In 2006 I have threatened by militia that hated me because I work and help coalition forces in Iraq, I told my bosses about that but they said we can't do anything for you because we have nothing to do with civilian and we don't have any army rules or orders to help you, then I continued my daily work with British army, few days later the militia attacked my house trying to catch me but I was at the work at that time, they beaten my family and told them: we want your son or we will kill all of you!!!!


'Since that day I decided to leave my job and change my home place but until this moment the militia trying to find and kill me, I'm always changing my place trying to hidden from them, they know that I left my job but they don't care, they just want to kill me they called me collaborator and traitor and they asked everybody know me about my place, they told them: anyone know anything about (name) he should tell us immediately and also they said: we will never give up until we catch (name). They work for ministry of interior so they controlled most of government departments and they work under that cover.'

(Read more at Dan's blog)

This is where you come in again: please, can you help? Dan explains

· On October 9th David Miliband announced that the British Government would assist former employees in Iraq, so long as they had worked for it after 1st January 2005 and for 12 months or more. That abandons several hundred Iraqis who have been targeted for murder because they worked for the British before that date- and in 2004 fighting between the Mahdi Army and the British was at its peak- or because they worked for less than that period, often leaving their jobs at the end of a British battalion's six-month tour. The British Government must help Iraqi employees on the basis of the risk they face, not according to an arbitrary time stipulation. This only affects a few hundred Iraqis, whom we are well able to shelter, and for whom we have a direct moral responsibility.


· Even those Iraqi employees who qualify for assistance are not being properly assisted. Iraqis in Basra are not able to apply via the British Army in Basra Interational Airbase, since it is ringed with militia checkpoints. Iraqi ex-employees in Damascus are being screened by Syrian policemen guarding the British Embassy and delayed by lengthy bureaucratic procedures when they apply for asylum, although many of them are illegally overstaying their Syrian visas and face deportation back to Iraq.


· A blogger called Dan Hardie is directly in touch with a number of Iraqi employees via email and phone. He is willilng to brief MPs- as concisely as possible- either over the phone or via email. He can be reached at danhardie.blog@gmail.com

  • You've heard this before, but it's now more important than ever. The last lot of letters and emails got the Government to announce a change in policy: an inadequate change,badly implemented. The next lot of letters and emails will force the Government to announce another change in policy, one that will be properly implemented and will not be based on leaving people to die.

  • Your MP's address is The House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA. His or her email address is probably SURNAMEINITIAL@parliament.uk (eg BROWNG@parliament.uk ).
  • Please use the talking points above to send an email and a print letter to your MP, and chase them for an answer. And be courteous: an insulted MP will not raise this matter with Ministers, and that will lead to more avoidable deaths.''


When this kicked off I used the excellent WRITETOTHEM service to contact my MP, Diane Abbot, and express my concern for the lives of these people. Diane replied promptly and supportively, and said she would chase for a response from the Minster of State for the Armed Forces from the M.O.D. She followed up with a copy of the letter from the Rt. Hon Bob Ainsworth MP which said that the review was underway.

Hundreds of similar emails and letters from the public, combined with media outrage pushed this issue to the foreground. As you can see though, by reading Dan Hardie's update, the system is still failing these people and we need another push.

I will be writing back to Diane again and asking if more can be done, more swiftly, more urgently to help these people. I ask you to spend five-ten minutes doing the same. If you get a response Dan Hardie would appreciate it if you could let him know what was said.

Thank you very much.
Linking bloggers: Ministry of Truth, Crooked Timber, Toblog, Nick Barlow, Tim Worstall

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