160,000 sign petition demanding UK govt protect Afghan interpreters

Over 160,000 people have signed a petition urging the British government to protect all Afghan interpreters that worked with the military forces, with some saying the UK authorities simply turn a blind eye to the interpreters’ plight.

At least 20 interpreters have been killed since 2001 in Afghanistan, and 94 percent of them received death threats. 600 of them are eligible for UK visas, but only 31 are known to have moved to the UK.

The petition emerged online about a week ago, and has gathered its 160,000 supporters over this time.

READ MORE: Britain will have ‘blood on hands’ if it doesn’t help Afghan translators – Lord Dannatt

One of the most covered stories of interpreters was that of one nicknamed ‘Happy’: he was denied asylum, despite Taliban threats, and was eventually forced to escape Afghanistan.

Then, he was stranded at the French port of Calais, attempting to get to the UK legally. He told RT that the British asylum-seeking system for interpreters is flawed.

“The rules are a little bit complicated, and it takes time, a year, but I couldn’t wait in Kabul. I have to cross this channel, because I don’t have another option. I have to go to the UK.”

Happy’s former boss – an ex-army officer – is helping him out, and revealed to RT that Happy had been injured during a recent attempt to cross the English Channel.

“He was pepper sprayed by the police in his mouth, knocked from a lorry, and has had to have five stitches to his leg,” George Tyldesley said.

READ MORE: Britain could pay to resettle David Cameron’s Afghan interpreter

Author and activist David Swanson says the UK is shunning from its moral obligations.

“We know David Cameron thinks the UK is accepting enough Afghans, which is to say virtually none. It is accepting virtually no refugees from anywhere, in comparison with other European nations,” he told RT.

And the reason for that is deeply ingrained in the Western foreign policy, he believes.

“I think it comes largely out of the attitude of racism and xenophobia that has been part of the UK and NATO and the US occupation of Afghanistan from the beginning. If it were not for that attitude people who assisted that occupation wouldn’t have to be fleeing for their lives.”

Happy’s predicament comes just a few weeks after the UK announced it would pay £15,000 (US$22,900) to move David Cameron's former interpreter into a new safe house in Afghanistan, after ministers refused to grant him asylum.

The 26-year-old interpreter, known as Shaffy, said he felt “abandoned” by the British government.