We can’t turn them away

Since British troops occupied Southern Iraq in the spring of 2003, thousands of Iraqi citizens have worked for the British Army, the Coalition Provisional Authority (South) and for contractors serving UK forces. There is now considerable evidence that their lives, and the lives of their families, are at risk: some former workers for the British have been murdered, and many others have fled to neighbouring countries or gone into hiding in Basra. The British Government, for whom they were ultimately working, has not offered them the right of asylum in the UK. This is morally unacceptable. 

The most detailed recent report, by Jonathan Miller of Channel Four news, notes the murder of 17 translators in one single incident in Basra. It cites the cases of hundreds of others who have fled to a refugee existence in nearby Middle Eastern countries or are in hiding in Iraq.  The British Government response has come from the Home Office, which has suggested that Iraqis put at risk by their work for British troops ‘register with the UN refugee agency’. Other reports provide supporting detail: Iraqis are being  targeted for murder because they have worked for British forces. 

Marie Colvin’s report for the Times of April 8 speaks of desperate former workers for the British Army being turned away from the British embassy in Syria by staff who had orders not to admit any Iraqis. These brave men and women have testimonials written by British officers stating that they are at risk from jihadi violence: and yet we are still refusing to admit them to the United Kingdom.

If you feel that this is unacceptable and that Britain should prevent Iraqis from being murdered for the ‘crime’ of working for British troops, could you please write to your MP and ask him or her to press the Government for action. Updated following good advice: The best course of action is to look up your MP, if you don’t know who she or he is, on this site, and then write and post them a letter. Second best, due to MPs’ technophobia, is to use the admirably-intentioned website ‘Write to Them’ ( http://www.writetothem.com/ ).

Please be courteous when writing to your MP. It would be a good idea to read the reports above, and cite relevant facts. We would suggest that your letter could contain the following points:

  • It is morally unacceptable that Britain should abandon people who are at risk because they worked for British soldiers and diplomats.
  • This country will be shamed if any more Iraqis are murdered for the ‘crime’ of having supported UK forces.
  • Iraqis who worked for British forces should not be told to leave Iraq and throw themselves on the mercy of United Nations relief agencies in Arab countries: these agencies are already being overwhelmed by the outflow of Iraqi refugees, and Iraqi refugees who have worked for British diplomats or troops may well be targeted by local jihadists.
  • There is plentiful evidence that armed groups in Iraq kill the families of those they consider ‘enemies’: for this reason we must extend the right of asylum to the families of those who worked for us.
  • It is entirely practical for this country’s troops in Iraq, and its embassies in neighbouring countries, to take in Iraqis who have worked for us and fly them to the UK. Indeed, there is already considerable anger among British servicemen that Iraqis are being abandoned in this way.
  • This country is large enough and rich enough to accommodate several thousand Iraqi refugees. Denmark has already given asylum to all 200 Iraqis who worked for its smaller occupying force.
  • It does not matter what your MP’s views (or what your views) are on the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. People who risked their lives for this country’s soldiers are now being abandoned by the British Government. Their lives can and must be saved by their being granted the right of asylum in this country.
  • This policy should be implemented regardless of whether British soldiers stay in Iraq or are soon withdrawn. But it must be introduced soon: applications for asylum cannot be processed in a lengthy fashion, as the security situation in Basra is deteriorating rapidly, and delay is likely to lead to further killings of Iraqis who worked for British troops.

If you really do find letter writing daunting, I’d suggest you copy and paste the letter below and adapt it somewhat. But you are strongly advised that the best thing to do is to compose your own letter:

Dear (MP’s name)

As your constituent, I am writing to discover your views on the treatment of Iraqi citizens who are working or have worked for the British Army, for the contractors supporting it, and for the Coalition Provisional Authority in the South of Iraq. In particular, I would like to know if you support the right of these people to indefinite asylum in the United Kingdom. I strongly suggest that they do indeed have this right. They have, by definition, put their lives at risk by the support they have given to British soldiers who were sent to war by a vote of the House of Commons.   

Whether you- or I- supported  or opposed  the invasion and occupation of Iraq is  immaterial. The risk run by Iraqis working for British troops is even greater than that run by the soldiers themselves. British soldiers are now suffering very high casualties in Iraq, and are continuing to serve bravely- but their local staff are obliged to live among neighbours who will, in many cases, be sympathetic to or even belong to the armed groups fighting the British army. We owe these people a clear moral debt. We cannot allow them to be murdered for the ‘crime’ of helping our service men and women.

The most effective way of helping these brave Iraqis is to offer them indefinite right to remain in the United Kingdom. There is plentiful evidence that armed groups in Iraq make a practice of murdering not only their ‘enemies’ but their families too: and for this reason we must extend the right of asylum to the families of those who have worked with us. This policy should be enacted immediately whether our forces stay in Iraq or are soon withdrawn. Applications for asylum cannot be ‘processed’ in a lengthy fashion: the situation in Basra is deteriorating, the ability of British soldiers to protect those that work for them is seriously compromised and any delay is likely to lead to the murder of Iraqis who have worked for the British military. I would appreciate your views on this matter.Yours sincerely


44 Responses to “We can’t turn them away”

  1. Tim Worstall Says:

    An Englishman’s Word

    You might want to have a look here, here, here and here. Yes, the pond life that rule us have found another group they can betray. Surprised? Others at those links explain it all in more detail and in more

  2. John Quiggin » Blog Archive » Left in the lurch Says:

    […] you’re in the UK, you can join a letter-writing campaign here. Similarly, the Australian government and the Labor opposition should be pressed to make a […]

  3. netherworld Says:

    Hi Dan,

    I’ve created a petition on the Downing Street website:


    Please sign it and link to it if possible.


  4. Let the Iraqis in « Misspelt Youth Says:

    […] here, here, here, here, and here. I will be sending a letter to my […]

  5. commonplacegent Says:

    I’ve started a Facebook group to support the letter-writing and Davide’s petition:

    (Used some of your post as an explantion, hope that’s okay 😉

  6. Robert Sharp Says:

    We can’t turn them away

    Interestingly, the recent successful campaign to allow one former ghurka (a holder of the Victoria Cross, no less) to be given UK citizenship was also propagated online. So Dan Hardie’s initiative stands a good chance of success.

  7. pasternaki Says:

    Dan, thank you so much for broaching this essential topic, as it’s critical not only for the UK’s moral standing but our strategic capabilities in the future as well.

    The USA and Britain both look pathetic and cowardly in the way that we are turning away and denying asylum for our own critical allies in Iraq and Afghanistan like this, effectively leaving them to the wolves, to be tortured and their families murdered by our common extremist enemies among the Iraqi and Afghan insurgencies.

    It’s not only embarrassing and shameful in the annals of UK military history, it’s also strategically catastrophic for us: If we and the Americans are seen as so callously betraying our most crucial local allies on the ground, treating them and their families as expendable when it’s convenient for us, then in any future wars, we will NEVER be able to recruit local allies again.

    We’ll be defeated not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in any future operations as well– memories of such outright betrayal never fade, and the names of Great Britain and the USA will live on in infamy as cowards in the records of war.

    Potential local allies will distrust and oppose us, and with good reason– they’ll be well aware of the way we used, then utterly betrayed our local allies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    For quite a while now, I’ve been hoping to mobilise support for a law in the UK (and parallel initiatives among our allies in the USA and Australia) to grant asylum, permanent residency status and eventual citizenship to the many Iraqis and Afghans who have valuably assisted us in our wars there, as well as to their families who are also being targeted. You’ve taken the first crucial step in this direction.

  8. Thoughts for the Day § Unqualified Offerings Says:

    […] Britbloggers are getting up a campaign to pressure their government into granting asylum to translators and others who worked with British forces in Iraq, the alternative being to abandon them to likely death. This is an awesome thing for people to do, […]

  9. Britblog Roundup » Anorak News Says:

    […] death, of whom Norfolk Blogger makes satirical use. It is not even the admirable campaign by Dan Hardie to have Iraqi interpreters who have helped our forces to be given asylum in Britain. Do read his […]

  10. Iraqi Translators « Back off, man; I’m a scientist. Says:

    […] in Uncategorized at 7:37 pm by Ben See here. My MP is Patricia Hewitt, who had this (trimmed of ‘dear’ and ’sincerely’ […]

  11. Dan Hardie: We Can’t Turn Them Away « Gary Andrews Says:

    […] About a month ago Dan Hardie launched a campaign to get the British government to give asylum to Iraqi translators working for British forces in Iraq. You can read his original plea here. […]

  12. joeaston Says:

    I have created a Facebook Group to help raise awareness of this issue:


    Please join and help spread the word.

  13. at First Drafts - The Prospect magazine blog Says:

    […] via a Daniel Davies post at Crooked Timber, but as far as I can see it was kicked off by one Dan Hardie, on July 22nd. Both Davies and Hardie made reference to a Channel 4 News report produced in April, […]

  14. ChristopherWhite.info » Cripes Says:

    […] Hardie picked up and brought to many people’s attention the plight of Iraqi interpreters working with the […]

  15. Longrider » Neil Clark and the Iraqui Interpreters Says:

    […] Dan Hardie comments below and I’ll paste it here […]

  16. The Unforgiving Minute · On how a cult movie is more insightful than Neil Clark Says:

    […] Clark has less to contribute to the debate about the British government’s obligation to grant asylum to its Iraqi employees who are now in fear of their lives than the movie Clerks, in which the culpability of the […]

  17. The Unforgiving Minute · Neil Clark and the denial of humanity Says:

    […] online column in the Guardian’s Comment is Free section in response to a recently-begun campaign to pressure the British government to grant asylum to Iraqi civilians who have worked for the British forces in Iraq and whose lives […]

  18. Chicken Yoghurt » Iraqi employees: MPs responses so far Says:

    […] you’d like to write to your MP, some tips for doing so are here. Don’t forget the Downing Street petition. Filed under activism, UK Politics, eye-rack See […]

  19. Ministry of Truth » Blog Archive » PodsandBlogs 14 Aug 07: Iraqi Workers Seeking Asylum Says:

    […] ‘Pods and Blogs‘ show has been kind enough to pick up on and feature the ongoing blog campaign in support of those Iraqi employees who’ve worked for, and are still working for, UK forces […]

  20. Chicken Yoghurt » Iraqi employees campaign on Five Live Says:

    […] forget to write to your MP (some pointers here) and let us know if you get a response. Also, sign the petition. Filed under activism, UK […]

  21. ‘They will be treated as traitors’. « Dan Hardie’s weblog Says:

    […] so already, you should research your MP here, and then write to them, if necessary using these talking points. Every letter to an MP so far has generated an inquiry to the Ministries concerned: the Foreign and […]

  22. Chicken Yoghurt » Iraqi employees: one down Says:

    […] Write to your MP. […]

  23. Ministry of Truth » Blog Archive » Get em’ while they’re hot… Says:

    […] are moving on apace with the ‘We Can’t Turn Them Away” blog campaign in support of Iraqis working for UK Forces who now find themselves under […]

  24. Chicken Yoghurt » Iraqi employees campaign: blog banners Says:

    […] any bloggers supporting the Iraqi employees campaign, Unity has a rather smart set of blog […]

  25. Robert Sharp » Blog Archive » What’s the Arabic for..? Says:

    […] that you can add to your own site, linking to an appropriate explanatory article such as the one published by Dan. My favourite is this […]

  26. Two teenaged Quislings « Dan Hardie’s weblog Says:

    […] can research your MP here, you can get ideas for a letter here, and when you get a reply you can let us know here. That’s ‘can’ in the sense of […]

  27. Chicken Yoghurt » Iraqi employees roundup Says:

    […] Write to your MP. Ask them to refer your concerns to the Home Office, Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence. […]

  28. Chicken Yoghurt » Iraqi employees campaign latest Says:

    […] Write to your MP. Ask them to refer your concerns to the Home Office, Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence. […]

  29. Chicken Yoghurt » Iraqi employees campaign latest Says:

    […] Write to your MP. Ask them to refer your concerns to the Home Office, Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence. […]

  30. Britblog Round-Up 132 » Anorak News Says:

    […] same theme Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads lists those who have lent their support to Dan Hardie’s “We Can’t Turn Them Away” campaign, whilst Chicken Yoghurt provides an invaluable compendium of newspaper articles on the […]

  31. Chicken Yoghurt » Iraqi employees campaign latest MP responses Says:

    […] Write to your MP. Ask them to refer your concerns to the Home Office, Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence. […]

  32. Nosemonkey / Europhobia » Remember Dunkirk? Says:

    […] Here’s a reminder, here’s the link to write to your MP for free. […]

  33. October 9th: Bring your own MP « Dan Hardie’s weblog Says:

    […] these talking points, then give them the location and timing of the meeting, and don’t forget to tell them about […]

  34. Chicken Yoghurt » A minister writes Says:

    […] I’m grateful to my MP, Celia Barlow, for forwarding a letter from the office of Foreign Office minister Kim Howells on the subject of the Iraqi employees living under the shadow of the power drill. […]

  35. Chicken Yoghurt » Get out or die Says:

    […] Write to your MP. Ask them to refer your concerns to the Home Office, Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence. […]

  36. Ministry of Truth » Blog Archive » The End of the Argument Says:

    […] Write to your MP. Ask them to refer your concerns to the Home Office, Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence. Invite your MP to the meeting at Parliament on October 9. […]

  37. Pickled Politics » Open source politics Says:

    […] The problem is that Labour MPs have so far been surprisingly reluctant to support this campaign. If you haven’t already gotten involved in this campaign, please do! Letters make an impact. You can: • Look up your MP; • Write to them (here’s a draft letter); […]

  38. Chicken Yoghurt » Sunny Hundal: Keyboards at the ready Says:

    […] Write to your MP. Ask them to refer your concerns to the Home Office, Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence. Invite your MP to the meeting at Parliament on October 9. […]

  39. Dan Hardie: Iraqi employees update again « Gary Andrews Says:

    […] 2007 Politics , Serious Post Tags: Dan Hardie; Iraqi employees campaign  Following on from this, this, and […]

  40. We still can’t turn them away « Max Dunbar Says:

    […] still can’t turn them away You may have heard something about this campaign regarding Iraqis who have worked with the British […]

  41. Blogroll Dan Hardie - still sweating the Iraqi Translator’s Detail | The Wardman Wire Says:

    […] Dan has been running the campaign to provide refuge in this country to translators employed by the British Forces in Iraq now under threat of murder. He said: […]

  42. Humaniform » Blogroll Dan Hardie - still sweating the Iraqi Translator's Detail Says:

    […] this country to translators employed by the British Forces in Iraq now under threat of murder. He said: Since British troops occupied Southern Iraq in the spring of 2003, thousands of Iraqi citizens […]

  43. Bring your friends « Alternate Seat of TYR Says:

    […] So; we want you to turn up, and we want you to write to them demanding that they turn up. If you haven’t already written to them, what the hell do you think you’re playing at? Talking points for a first letter are here. […]

  44. porry Says:


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