By STUART CROSWAITHE Early morning on September 5th security guards burst into the sleeping quarters of Colnbrook detention centre in west London. The guards had come to take thirty two Iraqi Kurdish men away.
Barefoot, handcuffed, with the guards swearing at them, the thirty two were taken to RAF Brize Norton. Their threatened forced deportation to Arbil in northern
2. Amnesty International, "Forcible return to Iraq would be unlawful".
Refugee Council, "Forced removal of Iraqis expected to begin today".
UK Foreign Office, "We advise against all but essential travel to the north of Iraq".
3. "A War Not of Conquest but of Liberation", 24/3/03
4. Kurdish statelessness makes exact figures impossible. A reasonable estimate seems to be 30 million. See D McDowall, "The Kurds: A Nation Denied".
5. War Office minute of 12/5/1919, quoted in Martin Gilbert, "Winston Churchill" companion Volume 4, Part 1.
6. Observer, 14/4/91.
7. Precise figures are not available: official figures do not recognise Kurds as a nationality.
The quoted figures are arrived at through use of Immigration and Nationality Directorate
See the Refugee Council's "Asylum by Numbers 1985-2000" and
See also European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) report. ECRE gives numbers of Iraqis (not solely Iraqi Kurds) seeking asylum in the UK as increasing from "about
8. Refugee Council, "Response to the Forced Removal of 15 Iraqis", 20/11/05
9. Daily Telegraph, "Clarke to bring back wrongly deported Kurd", 20/12/05
10. Independent Online, "Search for Kurdish refugee deported to
11. Guardian Society Online, "Reid warns judges not to block Iraqi's deportation", 5/9/06
12. Refugee Council briefing, "Iraq-return and Section 4 support", December 2005
It was also difficult for the UK Government to carry out their policy because beforesummer 2005 Kurdish members of the interim Iraqi Government were vocal in their opposition to forced deportations from the
13. The NASS vouchers (set at two-thirds the rate of
14. Home Office letter, undated. Copy held by author.
15. Personal communication to author, July 2005
16. Leeds Today, "250 Iraqis forced on to the streets", 14/12/05 and estimates made by Sheffield Kurdish Community Centre.
17. See Committee to Stop Deportations to Iraq (CSDIraq),
18. FO 371/5068, "Note on Rawanduz", 26/12/1919. Quoted in D McDowall: "A Modern History of the Kurds".
19. European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), "Guidelines on the treatment of Iraqi asylum seekers and refugees in
21. Personal communication to author, January 2006
Ominously, all returnees are required to sign a waiver stating, "I acknowledge that IOM has no responsibility for me or my dependents once I return to Iraqi territory and I hereby release IOM from any liability in this respect." See Refugee Council briefing, Iraq-return and Section 4 support, October 2005.
22. See, for example, Amnesty International's view quoted in The Guardian, "Home Office makes sure asylum flight is full", 6/9/06. Also, ECRE March 2006 report and CSDIraq website,
23. Personal communication to author, September 2006
24. For example, Kurdmedia, "Barzani slams
25. Personal communication to author, March 2006.
26. CSDIraq website, 000043.html
27. Quoted in Independent Online, "
28. ECRE guidelines, www.ecre.org/positions/returns.shtml#MONITOR