Accuse British security staff and Iraqi police of manhandling them
10th September 2010: Just over three months after the UK Border Agency personnel were accused of roughing up Iraqi asylum seekers deported from the UK, another group of failed Iraqi asylum seekers have claimed they too were beaten by British security staff and Iraqi police.
The previous time also the Iraqi Vice-President Adel Abdul Abdul Mehdi had expressed concern. In a statement, the Vice-President’s office had called for practicing international laws and norms in dealing with asylum seekers.
The statement at that time said: “We assert the necessity for observing international laws and measures stipulated in international agreements on dealing with refugees and not taking harsh measure in dealing with them.”
The latest round of alleged violence reportedly erupted when the refugees refused to leave a charter flight soon after it touched down in Baghdad on Tuesday morning.
The UK Border Agency said a senior staff on board did not witness mistreatment by escorting staff or Iraqi officials. Minimal force was used during boarding, on the flight and during disembarkation to prevent returnees from escaping or causing harm to themselves or others.
But, the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR), a London-based organisation, also released the pictures of one those reportedly injured.
Only about a week back, the Federation had asserted that the migrants’ safety would be jeopardised in Iraq. The Federation said on one hand the UK government was advising Britons not to go to many parts of Iraq, on the other it was allowing deportations.
The Foreign Office website, updated on 6 August, warned Britons against traveling to Baghdad and its surrounding areas.
The website said although there has been a decrease in the level of violence throughout Iraq, the situation remained highly dangerous with a continuing high threat of terrorism throughout the country except in the Kurdistan Region.
The federation is now launching a formal protest with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Only last week the UN body had criticized the UK and several Scandinavian countries for removing failed asylum seekers to the five central governorates of Iraq, which it says are unsafe due to attacks by al-Qaida sympathisers.
More than 60 failed asylum seekers, accompanied by an even larger number of security guards, were packed off to Baghdad.
In a statement released by the IFIR, one of the failed asylum seekers Sabar Saleh Saeed said: When we arrived in Baghdad we refused to get off the plane. One Iraqi policeman came on and said if we did not come down they would make us go down by force.
`We stayed where we were but the security guards forced handcuffs on us and started to beat us when they were dragging us off the plane. They were swearing at us, beating us.
`Four of them grabbed me to force me off the plane. They grabbed my neck and punched me. My eyes went dark. I could not see any light. I saw many other refugees with blood running down their faces.
`When I was on the steps on the plane they were still boxing me. There were a lot of Iraqi police there. They took over from the guards when I had got off. Then the Iraqi police beat us with their sticks."
Another returned asylum seeker, Lokman Hama Amin, who sent pictures of his injuries, said: `Four security guards grabbed me when we landed in Baghdad. They pushed me down to the floor of the plane. They handcuffed me.
"I was shouting, asking them to let me go because they were breaking my hand but they carried on beating my shoulder. Now I cannot move my arm: I have put it in a sling."
Reacting to the developments, Federation secretary Dashty Jamal said: "We are asking for all the human rights and progressive people in the UK to stop this barbarism and demand an end to this inhuman forcible deportation policy."