Liberal Democrat Leader Ming Campbell has written to party members about the plight of Iraqi interpreters seeking asylum in the United Kingdom:
The Government’s decision to review the cases of 91 Iraqi translators who have worked for the British may be welcome but their plight needs to be treated with far greater urgency. You can back our campaign at http://campaigns.libdems.org.uk/interpreters
The sad fact is that all these people’s lives will be at great risk when the British concentrate all their resources at Basra air base and then, eventually, leave the country altogether.
There is no doubt in my mind that Britain has a moral responsibility towards them and it would be a betrayal of that duty of care if they were not better looked after and where appropriate given asylum in this country.
What I want to see is an immediate inquiry into their situation and that of all the hundreds of other workers who may also have put their own lives and those of their families in danger by working for the British.
Numerous interpreters have been kidnapped, tortured and killed by Iraqi militiamen who accuse them of collaboration with their country’s enemies and there is no doubt that once the troops have been withdrawn there is every chance they will be further victimised.
Unlike the British, the Danish government did not turn its back on its responsibilities and when it withdraw its contingent from Iraq it flew all sixty of its translators out of the country at the same time.
There is rightly fury and indignation from soldiers who have served alongside these people in Iraq. One tells of an interpreter whose wife and family had a gun held to their heads by the militia and ordered to leave the country within three days. Yet he was immediately turned down for refugee status.
That approach is utterly unacceptable and morally unsustainable.
Their difficulties highlight yet again the lack of foresight exercised by the British and American governments before embarking on the illegal invasion of Iraq. It has destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of people it was supposed to enhance. It has left millions in greater fear and danger than even under the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein.
Though we will continue to condemn the war, we also recognise as Liberal Democrats that those who have risked their lives in their work for the British government deserve a fair hearing and they deserve it now. You can help bring that about by backing our campaign at: http://campaigns.libdems.org.uk/interpreters