Maryam Namazie and others
Published in letters section of the Guardian,,884210,00.html
January 29, 2003

We refugees and exiles are writing to raise our concerns about the prospect of Britain withdrawing from the European convention on human rights if asylum “reforms fail to stem the flow of unfounded asylum seekers” (Blair warning on rights treaty, January 27). How can Mr Blair know asylum seekers are unfounded without first allowing them access to a fair determination procedure? Calling them “unfounded” is part of the propaganda war to justify inhuman asylum policies.

In fact, most asylum seekers are genuine; they have been fleeing the same countries for decades, including Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, the Sudan, Somalia – countries we have fled from. That asylum seekers are no longer deemed “genuine” has nothing to do with changed repressive situations, but with the changed position of the British and EU governments with regard to asylum seekers and refugees in the post-cold war era.

Asylum seekers are being deemed security risks to justify these policies when most are fleeing repressive states and movements – often supported by the UK and EU – and US-led terrorism such as economic sanctions and bombings. Even if a minuscule number of terrorists are found among the vast number of asylum seekers, they can’t be generalised, just as Dr Harold Shipman cannot be generalised to label all British doctors as murderers.

Withdrawing from the convention won’t enhance security; rather, diminished rights will make it more unsafe for all of us living in Britain.

Maryam Namazie and others

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