The wife of a former Afghan interpreter has told how she lost the baby she was carrying after a Taliban commander punched her in the stomach with a knuckleduster when she refused to reveal the whereabouts of her husband – a former interpreter for the British forces.
Sabir, who was three months pregnant at the time, said she and her husband, along with their two children, were fleeing Khost province after they had received death threats from the Taliban. She said the insurgents had threatened to kill her husband, known as Chris, for having worked for UK forces as an interpreter for three years.
According to her, she had been traveling in a vehicle with her two children, when the Taliban blocked their way in Paktia province. Her husband had been in a second vehicle behind them.
She said when she realized it was a Taliban ambush she immediately called her husband and told him to turn back. However, she was pulled out of the car and shown a photograph of her husband by the Taliban, who accused him of being a British Spy.
They demanded she tell them his whereabouts. When she continuously refused, saying only he was at university, she was punched in the stomach and face before being allowed to go.
Speaking to the U.K’s Daily Mail, Sabir’s husband Chris said: “My innocent wife and children have suffered because of my work with the British forces.”
“I am devastated by what has happened to my family. It is only because of my work… the UK does recognize the danger to us but it wants us to remain in this country.”
His family say the UK has a moral obligation to assist and that Chris, who had to quit his job as a result of intimidation, requires another operation on the leg which took a Taliban bullet in December.
Sabir said: “My husband provided faithful and loyal service to the British – I am appealing to the government, especially his Excellency the Prime Minister, to help us.”
The Daily Mail reports that this incident comes eight months after her husband was shot in an ambush that also injured their two-year-old son Muhammad. Again he had been branded a British spy. However, the family has been told they will not be given sanctuary in the UK.
Sabir speaking out comes amid a rising number of reports indicating that many Afghan’s fleeing the country are doing so for this very reason. After losing their jobs, primarily as interpreters, following the drawdown of foreign troops, they say they are fast becoming targets of the Taliban who accuse them of being spies.
Issa Rahman, a young man from eastern Afghanistan, who has this week queued at the passport office in Kabul for his travel documents said he has no choice but to flee for his personal safety. He said that having worked for a foreign organization was now putting him at risk.
“I once worked for a foreign company. Paktia Province is very unsafe because it has been hit by war. There are threats to my personal safety. I’ve received two or three threatening phone calls. They said they have evidence of my experience working for foreigners,” he said.
Rahman said that he wanted to go to Turkey and then head for Germany.
Abdullah, a migrant from Afghanistan, who is now on the Greek island of Lesbos used to run a logistics company and worked with the U.S Army at Bagram Airfield. But after receiving threats from local militant groups he decided it was unsafe to stay any longer.
“I wish my life is safe, because I work with the foreign people in Bagram base, in U.S. army and it was dangerous for me, and I [was] always threatened by some guys, some people, some group, in this case I had to leave Afghanistan and now we are here,” he said.
This is a seemingly growing problem but one that the U.K’s Daily Mail is trying to tackle through its Betrayal of the Brave campaign – a petition seeking the U.K government’s support to help save the hundreds of Afghan interpreters who once helped the British troops.
Among those who have signed the petition include army generals, decorated war heroes, grieving families and politicians.
Lord Dannatt, former head of the Army, has according to the Daily Mail led the calls asking Prime Minister David Cameron to give all translators a haven in Britain.
“We have a moral obligation to look after these people and if they feel once we have left that they cannot assume their normal lives because of fear having worked for us, then it is our obligation to have them in this country,” he said.
“They often wear our uniforms and we have to remember that in Iraq, Afghanistan, we cannot operate in these places unless we can communicate with the local people.”
Sophia Coles, a law student who launched the petition, said: “I was struck by the peculiar injustice of a policy which provides protection for some but not all – despite them having taken great risks and facing such dangers.”
A previous petition begun in 2013 received more than 55,000 signatures but the Government did not act. According to British law, a petition must have 100,000 signatures to force a Commons debate on the issue.