I wish I didn't have to blog about this. I wish that what seems to me a matter of simple justice had been done and I could blog on something more congenial like the superiority of bicyles to cars. But here is the latest development on the condition of Iraqi employed by the British armed forces.
Back in July I heard of the plight of these employees who, because they had worked for the British armed forces, were in danger of their lives. And Britain was not offering them asylum.
I became one of the bloggers who wrote to their MPs and asked their readers to do the same. The Times ran articles. Then at the beginning of October it looked as though we had made a breakthrough and that these employees, who by working for our forces had risked their lives, would be offered shelter. But there were conditions. They had to prove they had worked for our forces continuously for 12 months. This was crushingly disappointing.
The story now continues via Dan Hardie, who has been the main mover in this campaign:-
Employee Three sent me copies of his Army ID card and photos of him with smiling Scottish soldiers. He worked for the Army in 2003, who then recommended that he work for Erinys- a private security firm which the British Government hired to form an Oil Protection Force. Yes, a mercenary firm: a mercenary firm hired by our Government and paid for with our money. Both when working for the Army and when working for the British Government's proxies, he was identified as a target by the militias.
The British Government made him a death squad target. That same British Government will not be giving him any kind of assistance; not even a small cash handout to help him live elsewhere in the Middle East. It has announced that it will not help any Iraqi whose direct employment ended before the 1st January 2005 . . .
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. (Read the whole piece).
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 ). If you don't know who they are, this is a helpful link:-
It is worth while writing to your MP. Mine, John Barrett, has been very helpful:-
Thank you for writing to me again regarding your concerns about the issue of Iraqi employees in the armed forces.
My colleague Lynne Featherstone MP has been coordinating the campaign here at Westminster as it seems that once again the Government are trying to sidestep their obligations. Gordon Browns' announcement on help for interpreters was welcome but there are real question marks over the detail of the pledges he made and who will be eligible and how they will be implemented. I know that a number of parliamentary questions have been tabled on the precise details of the Governments proposals and I can assure you that I and my colleagues will be holding Ministers to account on this matter.
I agree that is it vital that the Government honours its commitments to its Iraqi employees who risk so much to work with British troops. Having made what was in my view a terrible error by invading Iraq, the Government is morally obliged to support those Iraqis who are helping to rebuild their country. As we are now entering a new Parliamentary session, I will look again at the opportunities for tabling an early day motion that would call on the Government to uphold its obligations to its Iraqi employees. It is an issue of real importance and we have a duty to those brave Iraqi's who are fighting to build a better country and future.
I will keep you posted on progress towards tabling a motion on this issue. In the meantime, thank you again for writing to me on what is an underreported issue.
John Barrett MP