Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Iraqi Interpreters - Part II

In January, I wrote about the concerns of Iraqi interpreters who were working with the US troops on the ground. The main concern at the time was official policy such as the Mask Ban which had, after much protest and publicity, been lifted.

However, this is far from being the only concern faced by the Iraqi interpreters. Their safety and the safety of their families is a continuing concern and the difficulties faced by interpreters wishing to emigrate to the US are still great.

What's more, it is not only interpreters for the US troops that are facing these difficulties. Now that Britain has pulled her combat troops out of Iraq, the interpreters who worked with the British are facing many of the same problems. In fact, according to an article in the Times Online, families of murdered and injured interpreters are currently fighting losing battles against British bureaucracy as they try to get the necessary financial and medical aid.

As things change in Iraq, the interpreters' situation grows more precarious and yet I see little mention of them in the news or in translator & interpreter venues. Now is not the time to forget our colleagues.

As translators we should be actively following the situation in Iraq and should continue to lobby for the fair treatment of those who have worked so hard in such a difficult profession.

As nations interested in peace, America and Britain should consider carefully their treatment of those who have supported them. Stories of friendships between interpreters and troops abound and this is good news. Encouraging understanding, friendship, and respect between diverse peoples can only help in the goal of finding peaceful resolutions to our differences. If we turn our back on those who have helped us, and show disdain for their troubles, we ultimately harm ourselves as well.

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