The British government still intends to deport Iraqi and Kurdish nationals to whom it has refused protection. Fifteen people were forcibly removed on 20 November 2005.
One person has been allowed back into Britain as the Home Office admit he should not have been on the flight. All were known to be frightened about their future when they returned, but it has not been possible to monitor their fate systematically.
Now the government with the help of the International Organisation for Migration is sending large numbers of people back on so-called “voluntary” flights, although many of them are only going because they have been made destitute and have lost all hope of getting protection here.
It should not need to be explained that Iraq is a dangerous country: its inhabitants are enduring the US/British occupation, the resistance to that occupation, attempts to incite bitter sectarian strife, general lawlessness, daily kidnappings, abductions, and killings by death squads and suicide bombers. Power and water supplies and medical facilities still do not function properly, many people cannot get sufficient food or food that is fit to eat. The IMF is pressing for abolition of the basic food ration. Many places are catastrophically contaminated with uranium as a result of the last two wars.
Kurdistan (Northern Iraq), to which people are now being returned, is still part of Iraq and, although not suffering full scale open warfare like much of Iraq, is by no means exempt from the other problems listed here. In addition it is littered with mines that still kill and injure people, it is still politically dangerous for people who originally left because of persecution by Kurdish parties or Islamist groups, and it still has large numbers of displaced persons who do not have permanent homes or jobs or decent living conditions.
Amnesty International and other human rights organisations have opposed forced returns to Iraq. In August 2005 a UN report stated that credible evidence pointed to the systematic practice of torture in police stations and other Interior Ministry premises throughout Iraq. Scandinavian governments have decided against forcibly returning people to Iraq for the time being and have in some cases granted protection to Iraqi nationals to whom they had not previously done so.
In the light of all the above we call on the British government to:
- Stop deportations to Iraq.
- Grant protection to all Iraqi asylum seekers and recognise them as victims of war.
- Allow them the right to work or to receive a decent level of benefit.
- Immediately release the remaining few Iraqi asylum seekers held in detention.
We intend to continue to campaigning as a broad coalition to stop removals to Iraq as agreed at the public meeting held in Parliament on 11 January 2006 and we invite other organisations and individuals who agree with the above statement to join us in this work.
Jeremy Corbyn MP
John McDonnell MP
Jean Lambert MEP
Alliance for Workers' Liberty
International Federation of Iraqi Refugees
Asylum Rights Campaign
Campaign Against Criminalising Communities
Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF)
Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers
Iraqi Freedom Congress
Halkevi Kurdish-Turkish Community Centre
Kurdistan Solidarity Committee
International Organisation of Iranian Refugees
National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns
Federation of Iraqi Refugees - Manchester
Federation of Iraqi Refugees - Nottingham
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Stop Deporting Children
Kurdistan Refugee Women’s Organization
The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq