This time, I am behind the blog cycle, rather than the mainstream news cycle! Many others have already linked to Dan Hardie’s campaign to ensure that all Iraqis who have worked for British forces are given asylum if they ask for it.
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.
The most detailed recent report, by Jonathan Miller of Channel Four news, notes the murder of 17 translators in one single incident in Basra.
Dan suggests we write to our MPs, and even provides some handy text that you can paste into a letter or e-mail.
I recall that the plight of Iraqis was one of the first arguments against Tony Blair’s account of the war. When the WMDs failed to appear, the reasons for war quickly shifted to the brutality of the Saddam regime. While this might have been a convincing argument for many, it was certainly not a convincing reason for the government, who had denied many asylum applications from Iraqi before the war. It was therefore misleading and duplicitous for Blair to cite this as a reason post hoc.
However, the current British policy towards foreign nationals who help the armed services is unsurprising. The Ghurka regiment has for many years been mistreated by the government, with former soldiers denied citizenship, or even a pension on equal terms with other British servicemen.
Interestingly, the recent successful campaign to allow one former ghurka (a holder of the Victoria Cross, no less) to be given UK citizenship was also propagated online. The VC Hero site was set up by Tul Bahadur Pun’s solicitors, and a online campaign added political pressure. So Dan Hardie’s initiative stands a good chance of success.