Military Speaker, General Sir Mike Jackson urges Britain not to Abandon Afghan Interpreters Seeking Asylum09/04/2013
In an open letter featured in The Times Military Speaker, Sir Mike Jackson, formerly of the British Army, pleaded with the UK government to take action on behalf of Afghan interpreters who had helped British forces in the past.
In an open letter featured in The Times Military Speaker, Sir Mike Jackson, formerly of the British Army, pleaded with the UK government to take action on behalf of Afghan interpreters who had helped British forces in the past. The letter succinctly said that the Afghan interpreters may be facing abandonment by the British if changes are not affected immediately. The letter was published on Saturday.
The sacrifices made by the Afghan interpreters in the line of duty made the achievements of the British forces possible, according to the letter.
There are an estimated twenty Afghan interpreters killed in action and about five killed while off duty. Many have been injured. The interpreters are still in Afghanistan living in fear of the Taliban. In the letter, Sir Mike Jackson detailed the situation of an interpreter who recently received a threat from the Taliban. This interpreter and his family are now in hiding fearing for their lives after the Taliban said that it would punish them for giving a hand to the British.
Signed and delivered
The letter is insisting on Britain's moral obligation to the 600 Afghan interpreters who made British military operations possible. The signatories include Lord Ashdown, the former leader of the Liberal Democrat Party. The published letter was also signed by author and army veteran Jake Wood, former officer of the British army and author Patrick Hennessey as well as Michael Clarke of The Royal United Services Institute.
No asylum after withdrawal
Afghan nationals who apply for asylum in Britain find themselves dealing with a system that is slow and does not guarantee any success. The system provides asylum to people on a case by case basis. Britain holds the distinction for being the only member of NATO that does not offer asylum to interpreters that work with its forces based overseas. The letter calls this situation shameful. Iraqi interpreters were offered asylum by the British in what is called the Targeted Assistance Scheme after the war in Iraq, but the offer had not yet been extended to Afghans.
The Ministry of Defence of Britain reportedly considers the scheme used for the Iraqis expensive and difficult to pull through and in addition did not guarantee security and protection. The letter insisted on Britain's obligation to protect the interpreters who are already being hunted by the Taliban now that the United Kingdom is withdrawing its military presence in Afghanistan, targeting half of the troops to leave Afghanistan within the year. The UK plans for a full exit of its 9, 000 troops from Afghanistan by 2014.
There is a petition that now already has 60,000 signatures aiming to provide interpreters from Afghanistan asylum as well. The petition was addressed to William Hague, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom. The petition was initiated by an interpreter through Avaaz a group that launches a number of various global campaigns. The campaign director of Avaaz, Alex Wilks accused the British government of leaving behind the interpreters at the mercy of the Taliban.Back to all