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The great Iraq refugee scandal

As if Iraq and the region didnt have enough crippling problems, another one is the massive crisis around refugees.


Two million people have fled the shocking violence in Iraq. Most have gone into Jordan and Syria and are scraping by as best they can. If nothing else, this puts the numbers into perspective when we hear people complaining about, for example, the 25,000 asylum-seekers that came to the UK in 2005.

In fact, how do you think Britain has been doing over the Iraq refugee crisis? Given that the UK played a major role - right or wrong - in the invasion of Iraq and the aftermath operation, you might think that wed be showing willing over helping people trying to flee the mayhem.

Well, surprise, surprise: youd be wrong. Shamefully, the UK has been forcing more people back to Iraq than any other country in Europe. After the affair of the Iraqi interpreters that the UK has refused to help, I wouldnt blame you if you thought this takes the biscuit. The whole packet, in fact. Check out our new report on what you could call The Great Iraq Refugee Scandal.

Meanwhile, that monks-led protest movement in Burma is gathering steam. Here in the office were watching with some amazement as images of monks and nuns on the streets of ultra-repressive Burma continue to come our way. And Aung San Suu Kyis surprise appearance at her house/prison gates on Saturday seems to have ramped things up even further.

Where is all this going? The Burmese generals have an almost unrivalled track record in crushing protests and there has to be a real risk that people are going to be rounded up in large numbers or even killed in the streets. Obviously, lets hope this can be ended peacefully and with real human rights reform.

And finally, back to Iraq, but this time on canvas! If youre in London have a look at Gerald Laings new exhibition (from 28 Sept) at StolenSpace, in The Old Truman Brewery along Brick Lane, east London. The Metro carry some good examples (but only in their paper, not online, duh!).

Anyway, the show includes some brilliant Pop Art-style images of Abu Ghraib torture. Not a massively promising subject for art, you might think, but it looks like a winner to me. Those of American human rights abusers Lynndie England and Charles Graner giving sinister thumbs-up gestures over a pyramid of humiliated Iraqi prisoners are superb. Scary, nightmares-in-the-daytime stuff.

To my untutored eye its a powerful artistic response to the human rights excesses of the war on terror. Theres more of this sort of thing to come from Amnestys own Unsubscribe campaign. If you havent already, go to the online "hub" and Unsubcribe! Take a look. Its good.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
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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