Iraqi Interpreters: Petition

A few weeks ago, we started following Linda Wesson of Clovis, CA on Twitter. Her tweets all centered around one thing: the difficulties of Iraqi interpreters. We are always interested in anything related to interpreters, and we requested more information from Linda. After doing some research, we feel that there are many layers to this that we haven't fully understood yet, but Linda has started a petition to get protection for Iraqi interpreters who are receiving death threats for their role in the conflict. The Americans have largely left, but their interpreters are in a very vulnerable position. At this point, we are still mulling over this issue, but wanted to share the details with our colleagues around the world. 

We had been taught that war-time interpreters, who risk their lives to do their jobs, wear masks to keep their identities a secret and to protect their lives after the conflict is over. Apparently, this wasn't done in Iraq. We'd love to learn more about why that happened, but have not been able to find more information. Allegedly, the US had promised visas (so-called "Special Immigrant Visas") to Iraqi interpreters (and other contractors) who are experiencing ongoing serious threat because of their collaboration with the American government. The reality now is that interpreters have to wait for years to get their visas processed while their lives are in danger. There are many things wrong with this equation, but this is a very complex issue, and clearly, we don't know enough. Many people risk their lives in war zones, and we presume these brave interpreters did so voluntarily, and if they were promised immigrant visas, then the US should certainly follow through on that promise. It appears that the process is taking much longer than expected, which is really turning into a life/death issue for  many interpreters. Linda has started a petition that you may sign here if you are so inclined. Linda has no connection to the world of T&I -- she is just passionate about this particular issue and is working very hard to spread the word. Have a look at her blog here

The Los Angeles Times has published an article about the struggles Iraqi interpreters face. You can read it here. In addition, Human Rights First wrote about this last year. 

So you think you had a tough day interpreting in court or at a challenging conference? Take it with a grain of salt: at least you are not receiving death threats.

We'd love to hear your thoughts, dear colleagues!


EP on January 28, 2012 at 9:15 AM said...

Good luck to them! Sounds like they could use a little.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on January 28, 2012 at 10:40 AM said...

@EP: thanks, you are right. They could use some luck plus some public support. We are definitely signing the petition.

Slavistix on February 1, 2012 at 12:46 PM said...

Maybe we could help them by Tweeting this information for more exposure, anything to help to get this more publicity!

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on February 1, 2012 at 9:42 PM said...

@Slavistix: absolutely; please do spread the word via Twitter or any other means. :) Thanks for your help!

Anonymous said...

as an interpreter who worked for U.S.Forces Americans don't keep their promises and they lied to me a lot they used me for their benefits and now I'm a useless and if there an American in Iraq who wants to translate for him I'm not going to help him and SIV is a lie I was honest with them but they told me six months you will get it but I've been waiting for over than a year and I got none so is this a lie or not ?

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