Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Iraqi Translators

My MP, James Paice, has replied to my letter asking his position on the subject of Iraqi translators:

Dear Mr Risdon,

Thank you for your email of 29 August with regard to the issue of the 91 Iraqi translators.

I entirely agree with the points you make and, although I understand the Government has agreed to reconsider the matter, it was seriously inept in failing to understand the duty which we owe these people.
One of the good guys - Conservative, SE Cambridgeshire.

UPDATE: First, Dan Hardie, who started the excellent campaign to persuade our political class that they should behave honourably towards Iraqis who have helped out troops, asks if any readers of this blog who have themselves contacted their MPs would consider saying so in the comments and perhaps saying what their MP's reply was. If any readers haven't contacted their MPs about this issue, please consider doing so. Dan's original post on this subject can be found here.

Secondly, although my email to James Paice was framed in terms of "the right of asylum to Iraqis who have worked supporting the British Army in Basra and elsewhere", Mr Paice hjas chosen to limit his response to the translators. The point in fact extends to all Iraqis who have helped our troops, including people like laundry girls:
‘Shaimaa Falih and Likaa Falih were sisters aged 16 and 18, who worked in the CPA laundry. Both spoke excellent English and worked 12-hour shifts uncomplainingly in the tiny laundry-room area for about $350 a month. Both of them were warm and friendly girls and they’d smile and chat with us when we dropped off our laundry.

‘One evening after work they were being taken home by taxi as usual when the vehicle was confronted by four masked gunmen in a street just a few hundred yards from the girls’ home. One of the gunmen fired a bullet to stop the taxi while another tried to pull one of the sisters out of the car. She resisted and was shot in the head. When the other sister got out of the car she was also shot. The men then drove off in a getaway car. It was clear that Shaimaa and Likaa were murdered simply because they’d been working for foreigners. A few days later anonymous leaflets were left in the city denouncing the ‘traitorous’ and ‘immoral’ actions of the sisters for working with the CPA. They also threatened more attacks on Iraqi staff.’
I am writing back to Mr Paice, asking him to extend the terms of reference of his support for this campaign.

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