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Afghan ISAF interpreters seek Sweden asylum

The Local · 30 Jul 2012, 08:04

Published: 30 Jul 2012 08:04 GMT+02:00

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Some 24 interpreters have filed applications for asylum claiming that they fear for their lives when the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) withdraws its troops, according to a report in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily.

The Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) however responded that the law would need to be changed to enable the interpreters to come to Sweden.

According to the board's assessment, the Taliban are not currently considered to be strong enough to pose a threat in Mazar-i-Sharif to grant automatic asylum.

Furthermore the board never grants asylum to groups of people, even as a precautionary measure.

Sweden is in the process of reducing its troop presence in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). By 2014 Swedish troops are scheduled to have completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The interpreters have enabled the Swedish forces to engage with the local population in the vicinity of their base as many are unable to speak English.

According to the Swedish aid organisation the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (Svenska Afghanistankommittén - SAK) there is plenty of evidence to indicate that Afghan resistance groups routinely kill any locals who have worked with ISAF.

"It is enough to look at the last time the Taliban took over... It is a question of settling old scores," said SAK's secretary-general Torvald Åkesson to SvD.

Story continues below…

TT/The Local/pvs


The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:00 July 30, 2012 by Rod Munch
I would support this 100%.
09:53 July 30, 2012 by bourgeoisieboheme
I have lived in Afghanistan and worked there with NATO and yes, there can be reprisals against people working for NATO but at the same time, think of this... if we let everyone from Afghanistan into Sweden that fears reprisal from the Taliban, then firstly, you leave only the Taliban and their sympathizers in Afghanistan (making a bad situation worse) and secondly, you open up the flood gates for Sweden to be obliged to take in hundreds of thousands/millions of Afghans and their families as that many can claim to support NATO through not only language interpretation but also base support services, transportation, providing food, etc. The list goes on and on...

Also this is why they are paid so high in Afghanistan, much higher than local wages, it's called risk/reward in western civilizations.
09:55 July 30, 2012 by skogsbo
totally agree, other European nations have already done this following Iraq, they moved their whole family. Seems a very fair price to pay for the personal risk they took. Not sure if the USA has though.

Most are educated, motivated, clever people and will be a bonus to where ever they move to.
10:13 July 30, 2012 by muscle

Yeah that is all good. Use the people and the leave them to die and create hatred for sweden in the hearts of their family members. Exactly same thing happened, when USA left the MUJAHIDS during the breaking of USSR.

We people used to support these practices, but now after seeing the bad results, the huge cost, I am pretty much sure, the money spent on giving these people asylum and maintaining them, would be far less then the new wars that will be fought after leaving such people at the mercy of talibans!

What sweden can do is it, bring them here, train them, and then use them for further interpretation services
11:18 July 30, 2012 by rise
Better if the troops were staying there helping the people of Afghanistan, in Afghanistan. Not to help people of Afghanistan, in Sweden. Sweden cannot keep on being "the world's bureau of welfare"!
11:22 July 30, 2012 by Swedish Cat
Offcourse we do have the responsibility to help here as they will be risking their and their family's life here to assist against terror. Afghanistan is among the worst country for them to be in later, They are not the ones we don't want here. In my opinion whomever has respect for our country when coming here I would accept with open arms.
11:36 July 30, 2012 by rise
I'd still say keep the troops in Afghanistan. Help the interpreters, but yes of course, but do it Afghanistan. In that way there's no reason for them to leave their homes.
12:11 July 30, 2012 by bourgeoisieboheme
As a further comment, my interpreter was prior Taliban and only came to work for NATO/ISAF as we paid much higher than Afghan government or the Taliban. He was uneducated, and had no skills besides language which he learned from American movies and books. He was a nice guy and we keep in touch... but I have to say he was the typical interpreter, the ones who are doctors, lawyers, etc. have already left so don't think you are bringing over top notch talent.
13:47 July 30, 2012 by skogsbo
I can see your perspective, but they you shouldn't employ folk, if you aren't prepared to look after them afterwards. All the serving folk get pensions etc. so those employed locally should be looked after too, at least to the level where their life isn't threatened. Many local interpreters had to be flown out of Iraq at night, with their whole family to keep them safe. This is what makes countries respected, not hated in the longer term.

Otherwise the solution is to employ only TCNs (third country nationals), LECs (locally employed contractors), that way they won't be working in their home nation and will be at considerably lower risk.
18:18 July 30, 2012 by Fernandis
it has been reported that often these interpreters serve on both sides, they sell information to Talibans and same time they work with foreign troops. Not a single event has been reported when Talibans targeted any interpreters/translators, because these ppl are biggest source of information for both parties. Afghans are clever and they new after serving for sometime, they'll apply for asylum ;)
22:01 July 30, 2012 by skogsbo
I certainly know that many interpreters have been shot by fellow locals, then rolled out onto the roads approaching bases, as a warning to other locals. Also seen locals pacing out distances on bases etc..

Fernandis, that's why using TCNs remove this local risk, those who end up playing both sides, often have had their family threatened, what would you then do?
07:25 July 31, 2012 by Rod Munch
I don't think would open up any kind of floodgate. The way I see it, the interpreters served Sweden's military and national interest in a vital and extremely dangerous capacity. This particular act should be rewarded since they risked their lives for Sweden on active military duty in a war zone. That's a whole hell of a lot more than most Swedes can say.

I simply can't justify letting in thousands of new, potential violent criminals & rapists every year from the ME/NA countries, who are going to be a burden on society and eventually overrun it, and not letting in people who have served Sweden as mentioned above.
10:31 July 31, 2012 by Uncle

"Exactly same thing happened, when USA left the MUJAHIDS during the breaking of USSR."

Oh, yeah! How I missed them people who say them smart things and such... Apparently, the poor little mujahadeens, who in fact formed both Al Qaida and Taliban after USSR withdrawal, were merely ASSISTING USA. They would never fight without the evil US and A and accept the loving and democratic hand of Brezhnev.

Apparently, what should have been done, is to grant asylum to all the Mujahadeen armies in USA and they would fall in love with democracy and spring break parties! And to think about the enormous ability of these people in bringing economies up. Look at Afghanistan after USSR - pure economic and educational heaven! Best universities of Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan (rated in the top billion of all universities) are producing people who can actually TALK and not eat humans! Imagine that.

Cut the bull. Assisting NATO is a conscious decision based on economical personal benefits with all risks crystal clear. Nobody promised them asylum as a condition to start working. Stop treating people from the third world as half animal idiots who cannot form any decision without "being tricked" by evil west.

I believe that it is THEM who are trying to trick Sweden in a moral problem that does not even exist.
10:33 July 31, 2012 by rise
If the contract for being an interpreter doesn't feature the right of asylum in Sweden, it doesn't. They signed it anyway. Not likely for the sake of Sweden but for the sake of money.

But what the hell, since Sweden has already been flooded we might as well take in those people as well! After all they've actually been of some use to Sweden instead of being the regular raping parasites.
11:50 July 31, 2012 by Uncle
Also, the entire idea of Sweden being there is to HELP the Afghanis and not to assist in the war. They were requested to send a team to hold a huge region in peace through negotiation and not force. Girls are educated in this region and warlords are keeping to themselves.

WHY in the hell, after assisting Afghanis, Swedes are also responsible to assist all the Afghanis who assisted them to assist Afghanis? What a ridiculous paradox.

"Please come and assist us, while we will support you!" and "NOW you have to help all those who supported you, you western bastards!".

Afghanis, Somalis, Iraqis, Sudanese, Syrians and the rest of the wonderful underdeveloped world are using Sweden like there is no tomorrow with the only excuse that OTHER people harmed these people in the past.

However when they arrive here, the wining about the "racist swedes" who do not allow morally advanced honor killings, Jew lynching, child marriage, rape and tax evasion is deafening.

What Da F is the logic here?
18:28 July 31, 2012 by rise
I fully agree with Uncle. Funny how - in this case - it takes a foreigner as I'm sure you are(?) to transform thoughts of my own into words. But then, I'm not as good at expressing myself in English.

Sweden is open = Swedes are naive and soft.

Sweden is NOT open = Swedes are racist and arrogant.

There's a saying in Sweden (as well as Denmark), "Otack är världens lön". It may be translated into something like "Ingratitude is the world's paycheck", meaning, whatever you are doing and however you're doing it you'll only get payed in ingratitude.

In this context it doesn't matter if the interpreters are granted asylum or not; whatever the case the response, the payment, will still be ingratitude in one way or another.
19:03 July 31, 2012 by Uncle
Thank you, rise.

I think that you are very eloquent in English. More important, you can deliver an idea shortly and to the point - a virtue that I lack. And, yes, as I am a foreigner.

We agree then. There is no point of bringing all of these support money chasers here. It would just open a Pandora box the sort of:

"Hear, hear. Those who are in any way communicated to the swedish force, is promised an asylum from the heaven that you and your religion created for yourselves here.

Upon arrival, you have a full judicial right to sue the swedish state if it refuses to grant asylum to your extended family, your donkey and your neighbours, who are ALL in apparent danger just due to the fact that they LIVE in another hellhole that religion of peace granted for it's followers.

Upon their arrival, you shall be required to complain about swedish difficult language, high requirements on education and limit of 7 years of full financial support for you and your 12 children and granted a moral right to commit crimes because the fault shall fall on swedes in any case".
22:20 July 31, 2012 by rise

Oh I don't mind your, sometimes, lengthiness. Why your writing style isn't only sarcastic but also pure fun that actually reminds of a stand-up comedian, for example Magnus Betnér (a comedian with a viper's tongue).

And yes I agree with you on that Pandora's box of yours. The box isn't even exaggerated, but on the contrary. ;)
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