Basra, Bloggers and Bourne

Now that British troops have pulled out of Basra and the post-withdrawal analysis still rumbles on in the media Spiked has a really interesting piece dismissing the whole thing as a PR stunt - put yourself in the shoes of one of the Iraqi interpreters left behind. Youve been seen working for the British, you may have heard talk that the local militia consider you a collaborator, you may even have received a death threat. Yet you are left to live amongst the people who may now want to kill you.

To my (admittedly untrained) mind, it sounds like a clear-cut case of a reasonably-founded fear of persecution the phrase that triggers a claim for refugee status. Though when these guys join the mass exodus from Iraq to neighbouring Syria and Jordan and show up at the UK embassy, theyre being turned away.

At Amnesty were keeping a wide focus on the issue of the 2.2 million Iraqi refugees now in the middle east, but its this issue of the interpreters that has really set the blogosphere alight. Dan Hardie got the ball rolling and his blog on this issue is enough to make the hardest-hearted reader take action. And people have been taking action. Writing letters, amassing support from MPs in the excellent Chicken Yoghurt blog, even posting a video about it on Youtube (which contains a rude word, by the way, so dont watch if youll be offended).

Theyve even organised a parliamentary event on 9 October. What an impressive campaign! And people say that no-one cares about activism anymore

On an entirely different note, I went to see The Bourne Ultimatum the other day. Absolutely brilliant. Beats Bond black and blue. Im sure our pals at The Guardian were first in the queue to see it, what with it featuring a Guardian journalist, though its a bit of a cliché that hes rubbish in a fight some of those Farringdon Road guys look pretty hard to me. Theres a great scene at Waterloo Station showing how the cameras that are supposedly protecting us all could be turned against ordinary people (and Guardian journalists). And its interesting that a US blockbuster can now feature the CIA and its abduction-rendition programme as the baddies, rather than the usual villains (Russians, terrorists, criminal masterminds). Attempts to convince my friend that my job, as a thorn in the side of the CIA, made me and Bourne quite similar didnt get very far, though

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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