We can’t turn them away

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.

12 Replies to “We can’t turn them away”

  1. You liberate the country and then allow all those who helped you (i.e collaborators to their compatriots) to emigrate to the UK. Leaving a huge army and a load of insurgents as the only populance – how would the country rebuild or acheive democracy in that sceanrio ?

  2. I know! Why don’t we invite the entire population of Iraq to come and live in Britain! We’ve got plenty of room, spare houses, empty hospitals, schools just begging for more children. Or is it just the educated skilled workers we want? What’s Iraq going to do if we do a brain drain on it? What about the people left behind?
    The moral imperative is surely to fix the situation in situ. Negotiate. Give resources. Repair the damage. Provide protection in the meantime. Let people stay in their homes.

  3. Sure, but that would have required better post-invasion planning. Clearly the optimal solution would be to leave everyone in place to live in peace, but that option is presently not available.
    Its nothing to do with whether people are skilled workers or not. It is about the fairness of helping those who have helped us.

  4. No-one is saying that long term help in situ is worse than the short term help Dan is proposing. But when the long term help fails or malfunctions or proves inadequate, as is the case here, then we have to revert to short term help to overcome the crisis.
    Consider the recent flooding. No-one is asserting that “more sandbags” is a preferable policy to better flood defences and action against climate change. Yet “more sandbags” is precisely what is required this week.
    Politicians are often blamed for “short-termism” thinking. But sometimes such policies are required to overcome an immediate crisis.

  5. Exactly. It’s how you “help” people that’s the problem. If you bring everyone who’s ever helped us to come and live here, that’s going to cause a bit of a problem. Also, you have to ask, what were they helping us to do? Help them, I thought?

  6. Would that be the same short-termism that made it so that there weren’t enough sandbags, or good enough flood defences?
    The same short-termism that made us mess with more countries than we can accommodate the people of in this bulging, crumbling nation?
    Moral imperatives are well and good, but they become something of a luxury where they entail resources beyond one’s means, I would say.

  7. Robert, thanks very much for this. If you’d like emailed updates on the campaign, or if you have any suggestions, please email me at danhardie.blog@gmail.com . I’m trying to keep all the participating bloggers in touch.
    Also, when you do get a reply, could you please blog it and let me, or Justin McKeating at Chicken Yoghurt, know? We need to keep track of MPs’ replies, so that we can knock down inaccurate or dishonest answers and identify sympathetic ones for further lobbying efforts.

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