The reality of the Government’s death sentence to Iraqi employees has been really brought home to me by an email sent to me because of my activity on this issue by an Iraqi translator working for the British in Iraq. Because I want to protect him I can’t give too many details but here’s a bit of the email:
I read about you on the internet that you are supported the interpreters asylum matter, so I decided to write about our suffering to you and I appreciate that you are a very busy woman but I trust you to do your best for us and I wish that from you.
He describes his length of service and the job titles (not given to protect). He goes on:
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 traitorous and they asked everybody know me about my place, they told them: anyone know anything about XXX should tell us immediately and also they said: we will never give up until we catch XXX.
He goes on to say that the Prime Minister’s statement actually attracted more attention by the militia and now they are trying even harder to catch the Iraqi workers; that it is asylum in Britain that they need – not money; and that the British Government processes are too slow and they are facing terrible situations in Basra and could be killed any time.
He goes on with the chilling words:
Madam, I live in a very dangerous situation (it’s like the hell) until this moment the militia keep looking for me trying to kill me because of the kind of my job with British army; they think its VIP job. I can’t even get a job because the militia, I’m jobless since I left my job with British, I’m hidden now but I’m sure one day they will find me because they have many people work under cover for them.
I adjure you to help us, please pass my voice to the British government and please try to put a pressure on the government to do something for us as a quick as possible.
I’m ready to provide you with any thing you need from me.
Well – David Miliband published a Written Ministerial Statement elucidating a bit more and moving a bit on what we Brits are going to do to help those Iraqi workers who worked or are working for us in Iraq and consequently being killed and hunted down for doing so.
The Labour government have behaved appallingly and only after lots of effort on many parts have moved to grudgingly give a package (inadequate) to those in danger. But it doesn’t include their families and it didn’t allow them to come to Britain.
This further statement says they can come – but doesn’t deal with the families, the need for proper contracts with those who work for us, with a webiste, with the slow speed of any package reaching them etc etc.
British forces lives have dependant on the intelligence and work of these Iraqis – the least we can do is repay the favour. The Government is treating these people like they are applying for means tested benefit – not like people who are fleeing for their lives. The 12 months service eligibility criteria is ridiculous. Assessed risk, rather than length of service, should be the main criterion for granting asylum or resettlement packages. The death squads in Iraq don’t stop to ask how long interpreters served for us, so why are we?
Needless to say I will be taking the whole of the email to David Miliband and the Home Secretary to make the case!
(If you want to take action yourself on this – see Dan Haride’s blog and also the Lib Dem Iraqi interpreters site).