Sat, 12 Feb 2000

Britain rejects asylum seekers

I would like to comment on British Home Secretary Jack Straw's statement about the Afghans aboard the hijacked Ariane plane who have applied for asylum in Britain. He says, "I wish to see removed from this country all those on the plane as soon as reasonably practicable". Among "those on the plane" are asylum seekers, but that will not impress Straw. He, after all, is the man who recently pushed through an Asylum Bill using rhetoric such as "bogus asylum seekers" as a sweeping generalization.

There are no such persons as "bogus asylum seekers". There are only asylum seekers, period. Whether a person's claims to asylum can be entertained or not is a matter for due process. But "those on the plane" who truly want to escape the nightmare of Taleban- ruled Afghanistan are in for a very rude awakening. Iron Jack might be interested in due process where former South American dictators are concerned but he has a very dismal record where non-EU asylum seekers are concerned. He has them detained in centers run by private security firms and subjects some of them to waits of years on their appeals.

Iron Jack will hardly spare a moment's thought about the exceptionally cruel treatment that the Taleban might have in mind for them. Doesn't he realize that this primeval regime will treat everybody aboard that plane as suspect? Does he know anything about the Taleban?