THE FINANCIAL Times carried a report on Wednesday of last week that David Blunkett is trying to reduce the number of people from Iraq who are granted asylum in Britain. Apparently Iraqis make up the largest group requesting asylum. This is hardly surprising given the present situation.
The human cost of this cruel and hypocritical directive is illustrated by what has happened to the Iraqi refugee family the Daouds. They have been living in the St Anns area of Nottingham. Jamil and Sara Daoud, and their four young children Majid, Hoda, Mostafa and Marwa, have been deported to Spain.
The rationale for this is that in their scramble to get out of Baghdad, Sara and the three youngest children passed through Spain on their way to Britain. Jamil and Majid fled to Britain via Germany. None of the family speak Spanish. They do speak English, and were very well settled in Nottingham with all four children doing well at Sycamore School. They were very popular and surrounded by friends. Sara is now said to be suicidal.
A previous attempt to deport them was stopped by a broad campaign in Nottingham. Last August a mob-handed police raid whisked them off without any warning and banged them up behind the barbed wire of Harmondsworth detention centre at Heathrow.
The fact that Jamil was a Kurdish opponent of Saddam Hussein, and had been tortured in Baghdad, made no difference to the Home Office. The Home Office did not lift the threat of deportation but granted a judicial review of their case. It allowed the Daouds back to their home in Nottingham. The legal process has now run its course. The nonsensical deportation decision has been found to be perfectly legal.
Distraught friends are trying their best to support the family in Spain, where they are under threat of deportation back to Iraq. No one who has heard nine year old Hoda's graphic description of the escape from Iraq can doubt the terrible pressure that this family has been under.
John Shemeld, Nottingham
We gave Blair a taste of the anger
I HAD the dubious 'honour' of meeting Tony Blair last week when I took part in the Tonight with Trevor MacDonald debate along with 17 other women opposed to a war with Iraq. I was invited to take part after working in Palestine as a nurse for four years and because of my involvement with the Stop the War Coalition in Exeter.
The group of women went into the room unconvinced by Blair's arguments for war. We came out convinced that this man will lead us into a wholly unjustified and dangerous war that will have terrible repercussions around the world. I'm sure the prime minister entered the room thinking he could charm us with his 'you must trust me' speech.
That did not wash with us or the majority of people in this country. We can see his double standards with countries like Israel who have flouted more UN resolutions than Iraq, with their continued illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and their treatment of the Palestinians. I hope Tony Blair got an insight into the anger and hostility of ordinary people.
I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to be able to say to Blair that war is 'not in my name'. Make sure he doesn't do it in your name either. Make sure you protest, walk out, occupy and demonstrate against Blair and Bush's bloody war.
Lizi Allnatt, Exeter
I WAS part of a delegation of firefighters from all parts of the country who lobbied MPs to support our pay campaign last week. Lynne Jones, left wing Labour MP, abstained from voting against the scrapping of Section 19 of the Fire Services Act because she thinks we're going to be defeated anyway.
The abolition of Section 19 will make it easier to shut or downgrade fire stations and cut services. Jones warned us that in the run-up to war we needed to be 'tactical'. At least she didn't ask us to abstain!
Millions of people are opposed to war. We need to strike and call on these people to support us. This is the way to pressure MPs and the key to our victory.
Neale Williams, North London
Call for support from Zimbabwe
THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe expelled the socialist MP for Highfield, Munyaradzi Gwisai, in November last year. Gwisai is a member of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO), Socialist Worker's sister organisation in Zimbabwe.
We have decided to field Gwisai as a candidate for the Highfield by-election on 29 and 30 March. The support we have in the industrial areas surrounding Highfield, where the vast majority of workers live, is solid.
Of the three MDC party structures in Highfield, one has come out in support of Gwisai. Of the three MDC councillors in Highfield, one has come out in support of the ISO candidate. The MDC youth wing in the area has split. We desperately need money to cover the costs of the campaign.
The details of our bank account are First Direct Bank, 40 Wakefield Road, Leeds LS98 1FO. The account name is John Page, the account number 1118 54 89 and the sort code 40-47-78.
Please e-mail details of deposits to ISO Zimbabwe for the attention of Rosa Zulu or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosa Zulu, ISO Zimbabwe
Schools walkout gave me a smile
IT WAS inspiring to hear about the school student walkout against war. I was especially happy to hear about the students at Fortismere School in north London.
The indignation of the deputy head gave me a good laugh. Rather than the students it is Bush and Blair who are behaving in an 'irresponsible and dangerous' way. Here in Taiwan we have seen further protests urging the government to take an anti-war position.
Paul Ellis (ex Fortismere teacher), Taiwan
Students struck in the US too
AROUND 400 schools and colleges in the US staged walkouts for the Books Not Bombs campaign on Wednesday of last week. At the University of Colorado hundreds of students took part in the student strike. We had one of the largest marches, in which around 1,500 students took part.
People are making the link between the severe cuts in services round here and the war.
Karen Evans, Denver
Rise up to stop the warmongers
PEOPLE ARE opposed to the killing of innocent men, women and children in Iraq. War could lead to the end of New Labour. I talk to people who say that while they have always voted Labour, they will not do so again. Members of parliament should remember the poll tax-Blair is whistling past the graveyard.
The way forward is for the people of the world to rise up and overthrow the warmongers.
Ron Acock, Ilkeston
Will they crack down on Nazis?
THE MUSLIM cleric Sheik Abdullah el-Faisel was recently sentenced to nine years in jail for 'fanning the flames of hostility' against Jews and Hindus. Judges and courts rarely show such willingness to crack down so heavily on more dangerous practitioners of race hatred.
A court jailed Nazi BNP deputy leader Tony Lecomber for three years for a ferocious attack on a Jewish schoolteacher in 1991. BNP leader Nick Griffin was given a two-year suspended sentence for incitement to racial hatred in 1998 after denying the Holocaust. When will these racists get the same kind of sentence as el-Faisel?
Peter David by e-mail
GMB: It's right to back Kenny
JOHN McLoughlin (Letters, 15 March) should not be surprised that Socialist Worker is backing Paul Kenny for GMB union general secretary in the upcoming elections. There are areas where socialists may disagree with Kenny but he is the more progressive choice and the candidate Blair would least like to see win.
As the current London regional secretary he has been active in building support for the firefighters and the recent anti-war march as well as raising questions on the funding of the Labour Party. Under these circumstances the left has to support Kenny.
Dick Pole, GMB North West London branch secretary (personal capacity)
Another outrage for the Record
THE LABOUR-supporting Scottish paper the Daily Record ran a disgusting story in 2001 claiming that the murdered Kurdish refugee Firsat Yildiz Dag was a 'conman'. The paper was at it again last week. It says it has discovered an African woman in Glasgow who is selling documents claiming to certify HIV-positive status for £1,500.
This came just days after a campaign had been launched against the deportation of HIV-positive women back to Africa. Under the headline 'Asylum Seeker AIDS Con', the paper claimed that these documents could help asylum seekers stay in Britain. This is a pack of lies.
The Home Office does not take HIV status into account in asylum cases. The NHS does not give HIV treatment on the basis of documentation. It always carries out its own tests.
Mark Brown, secretary Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees