Why is the government refusing asylum to translators for British soldiers?


12:43 pm - May 3rd 2013

by Robert Sharp    


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A few years agao, I blogged about the campaign to save the Iraqi translators who had worked for British troops in the country.

Appallingly, the British Government refused to give them asylum, even though it was their work helping (perhaps, even keeping alive) British soldiers that had got them into trouble in the first place.

Via Aavaz, I learn that the British Government may now repeat this shameful episode in relation to translators working with British forces in Afghanistan. They want to give compensation, in lieu of asylum.

This really is not good enough. We have a duty to protect these people. Failure to do so would not only be a moral outrage – it would damage the reputation of British forces abroad and make it much harder to recruit local translators for future military operations.

Aavaz have a petition, which I have signed. Please do the same.

Why does the British Government drag its heels on these ethical no-brainers?

I worry that it is down to the confused debate about immigration in this country. Asylum seekers, refugees, economic migrants and illegal immigrants are all very different types of migrant, but they are all spoken of as similarly illegitimate and unwelcome.

We cannot allow an immature debate at home to hobble our soldiers working abroad.

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About the author
Robert Sharp designed the Liberal Conspiracy site. He is Head of Campaigns at English PEN, a blogger, and a founder of digital design company Fifty Nine Productions. For more of this sort of thing, visit Rob's eponymous blog or follow him on Twitter @robertsharp59. All posts here are written in a personal capacity, obviously.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Foreign affairs ,South Asia ,Westminster

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Reader comments


But people who are not at all racists, in fact some of their best friends are slightly brown, have ‘legitimate concerns’….

2. Surreptitious Evil

I was actively involved in the campaign regarding the situation in Iraq. It is horrifying that the current government are making the same idiotic error as the Brown government made. But, as they are politicians as well, probably not that surprising.

Signed (with my real name 😉 )

Chris – the numbers are so low that this is completely immaterial to the overall immigration debate. The moral debate is relatively simple – work these people have done in support of UK Armed Forces (as employees of HM) is placing their lives, and those of their families at direct risk. Do we owe them a duty of care?

“the British soldier can stands up to anything except the British War Office”
“The Devil’s Disciple” by George Bernard Shaw

The government (past and present) handle the whole immigration situation so badly that even when they could do the right thing and allow the translators to have asylum they do the wrong thing. They are so scared about setting precedents that that they get fixated on not allowing in people who morally have a right to come in. But then when they concentrate on the easy cases (because the numbers are so low) they ignore the hard cases of expelling all the illegal and criminal immigrants that have no right to stay here.

I know I might be hijacking the case for political purposes, but why would anyone want more state control when this is the kind of cock-up that all state organisations do – regularly.

5. domestic extremist

You have to wonder whether the foreign armies which invaded Afghanistan and installed the utterly corrupt Karzai regime, besides killing large numbers of innocent people, ever saw fit to explain to volunteer Afghan translators that they risked being regarded as quislings when the armies withdrew.


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