Tuesday, June 17, 2008

For refugee week: Britain shamed as Iraqi interpreters are resettled in squalid tower blocks - Times Online

Part of my Refugee Week series.

Britain shamed as Iraqi interpreters are resettled in squalid tower blocks

Whether you support the intervention in Iraq or not, these people deserve your unqualified support: the Iraqis who worked as interpreters for the British and other forces, who fled because they were targeted by the "resistance" as collaborators. These people risked their lives for our cause, then the British government refused to grant them asylum here because of the "precedent" set. Thankfully, the government gave in to public pressure.

Part of the issue is that this government - like all governments - wants to reduce the definition of a legitimate "refugee" to its narrowest possibly classical liberal conception: individual people whose "conscience" makes them a victim of a repressive regime. That is, people who are simply fleeing an utterly intolerable life - as with these people - are denied the status of legitimate "refugee".

Some honourable people have fought to defend these asylum seekers from deportation, such as the residents of the Kingsway Estate in Glasgow, as this Guardian report and video describes. Jess McCabe comments that this "disrupts the convenient narrative of racist, anti-immigrant working class white people." And, as Madam Miaow says, "A rare example of a media report that doesn't present the working class and immigrants as beasts but shows humanity at its best."

Also read:
A life spent waiting (Deborah Haynes in the Times)
The hell of being an asylum seeker (Mark Haddon in the Guardian)
Iraqi refugee crisis grows as West turns its back (Kim Sengupta in the Independent)

Links:
Committee to Stop Deportations to Iraq
Refugee Archives Current Awareness Blog

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