Afghan interpreters who helped British forces in home country launch legal challenge against government decision not to allow them to settle in the UK


Afghan interpreters who have aided British forces in their country have issued a plea to the UK Government to grant them asylum to save them from the “danger” of Taliban vengeance attacks.

More than 77,000 people have signed a petition delivered to the Government today calling for Britain to offer an estimated 600 interpreters refuge rather than the current offer of monetary support.

Among those delivering the document was Mohammed, 28, who began serving the British in 2006 and is one of six interpreters to be granted refugee status in the UK. The petition was started by his brother, Abdul, who remains in Afghanistan with Mohammed’s wife, three children and the rest of his family. They have been in hiding in Kabul for one and a half years.

This week, Prime Minister David Cameron proposed cash packages to encourage Afghans to stay and help rebuild their country after UK troops withdraw.

“That money cannot change our security problems,” said Abdul. “We do not need the money. We are in danger, we need security.”

Mohammed said: “Will David Cameron risk his family’s life for ‘x’ amount of pounds?”

The petition was delivered to the Foreign Commonwealth Office by Mohammed and two ex-soldiers, Patrick Hennessy and Jake Woo, as Afghan translators launched a legal case against the British government.

To date, 26 Afghan interpreters have been killed while working for British forces. The Taliban have given a death sentence to all those who helped Nato forces, and a survey carried out by campaign group Avaaz estimates that 93 per cent of UK translators have received threats.

Mohammed said: “I wanted to help my country. I wanted to help the British forces because they were there to help our people.”

But Abdul added: “When they leave us, we are the first target for these people. So I don’t know why they will not recognise our service or the sacrifices we have made.”

Abdul and his family have received numerous threats through letters and phone calls. He said somebody called his father on 19 March asking: “Do you like infidels or Mujahideen?” The month before, there had been another phone call. “They told me we have found the place where you live and as soon as possible we will catch you and we will kill you,” Abdul said. “Anything can happen at any time”.

The brothers had worked under the guise of UN clerks, but when Mohammed was hit by an IED in 2009, they had to return home and tell their family the truth. Abdul said it was then the problems began. “The whole of our family is scared now.”  His father sells cars, but since the threats started, barely makes it to the showroom. “Most of the time he is at home,” he said.

Alex Ford, who left the British forces in December last year after working in a construction role with local civilians, said: “In order to do anything out there, I had to have an interpreter there all the time. They were vital to me and doing my job. They became people that not only were relied upon but were totally essential to us.

“I think the way that they’re being treated at the moment is disingenuous to them for the effort and the sacrifice that they’ve given.

“There are some things that you have to accept you just have to pay for. We have used these people for our job out there and then as we are pulling out, we are leaving them to essentially fend for themselves in a country where it’s not going to be great.”

Britain is the only Nato country not to offer asylum to their Afghan interpreters. All Iraqi interpreters were offered the option to settle in the UK after troops left. 

Lord Paddy Ashdown, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Baroness Coussins have all expressed their support for asylum to be granted.

Mohammed said: “The campaign is not because he is my brother, it’s because people like Abdul are in danger and need my help.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
peopleJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Systems Analyst (Retail)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Up to 20% bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An...

Head of Digital Marketing,London

To £58k Contract 12 months: Charter Selection: Major household name charity se...

Lead Hand - QC

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Hand - QCProgressive are recruiting...

Technical Manager / Lead - Mechanical.

£43000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading Br...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice