the Disillusioned kid: Safe, just & tolerant
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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Safe, just & tolerant

The New Iraq is shaping up to be quite the family-friendly holiday destination. Local attractions include a faltering economy, the burdgeoning kidnapping industry, repression of trade unionists, anti-gay death squads, widespread sectarian killings, often violent discrimination against HIV-positive Iraqis, ongoing coalition military operations and, of course, the continuing insurgency. Given how delightful all this sounds, it shouldn't come as a great surprise that John Reid is eager to help Iraqi refugees back their newly liberated homeland.

According to the Grauniad, the Home Secretary "will sanction the forced removal of up to 32 Iraqis today after telling the high court he would ignore any last-minute legal challenge to their deportation... the home secretary has told the high court that today's specially chartered flight will not be stopped by anything short of an injunction."

In a friendly missive to the duty high court judge sent on August 31, the Home Office insisted: "Because of the complexities, practicalities and costs involved in arranging such charters, it is essential that these removals are not disrupted or delayed by large numbers of last-minute claims for permission to seek judicial review." Reid isn't one to allow himself to become entangled in pointless diversions like legal process.

Inexplicably, given the happy-go-lucky atmosphere pervading the New Iraq, those killjoys over at the Foreign Office "strongly advise against all travel to Baghdad and the surrounding area, the provinces of Basra, Maysan, Al Anbar, Salah Ad Din, Diyala, Wasit, Babil and Ninawa" and "advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Iraq." On a previous deportation flight, the Home Office even paid attention to such hand-wringing and decided to avoid flying directly into Iraq, instead travelling via Cyprus.

Predictably, there has been criticism of Reid's selfless statesmanship in this matter. Maeve Sherlock of the Refugee Council moaned: "News reports every day show that Iraq is still a highly volatile and dangerous place. It isn't possible under these circumstances to guarantee the safety of anyone returned there." She added: "Many Iraqis are keen to return to Iraq and will do so as soon as it is safe."

Presumably hoping to placate such bleeding hearts, Ministers have suggested that there may in fact be "security problems" in parts of Iraq, but "do not accept this applies to all areas". One can take it that Kurdistan, whence these refugees originate is one of these areas without security problems. Just in case, "they have decided not to send back women or children or break up family groups for the present." Their humanity truly knows no bounds.

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