The Coalition Against Deportations to Iraq has issued a statement calling for no deportations to Iraq and for protection for Iraqi asylum seekers.
The statement, which is being supported by MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell and organisations, such as the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF), is concerned with the fact that: ‘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. All were known to have been frightened about their future when they returned, but it has not been possible to monitor their fate systematically.’
It also makes clear that large numbers of people are being sent 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.’
The statement brands Iraq a ‘dangerous country’, highlighting the continued US/British occupation and the domestic resistance to that occupation. It also details problems including ‘bitter sectarian strife, general lawlessness, daily kidnappings, abductions, and killings by death squads and suicide bombers.’ The damaged infrastructure and inaccessibility of power, water, food and medical supplies are also cited as evidence of a country in turmoil.
According to the statement, human rights organisations including Amnesty International, have opposed forced returns to Iraq. A UN report, published in August 2005, stated that ‘credible evidence pointed to the systematic practice of torture in police stations and other Interior Ministry premises throughout Iraq.’ The evidence was so damaging that ‘the 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.’
The statement elucidates its aims by calling 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.