Afghan interpreters 'scared and confused'

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 05:00 14/10/2012
kazimi diamond
John Kirk-Anderson
LIVING IN FEAR: Diamond Kazimi worked as an interpreter for Kiwi troops in Bamiyan.

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Terrified Afghan interpreters who have worked for Kiwi troops in Bamiyan province are still unsure if they will be granted asylum in New Zealand and have now been told not to talk to media, a former translator says.

Last week, the Sunday Star-Times reported 26 Afghan interpreters working with Kiwi troops were pleading with the Government not to abandon them to "certain death" when the army withdraws next year.

Interpreters told the Star-Times they and their families would be captured, tortured and killed by insurgent forces for helping the foreigners when the Kiwis leave.

Prime Minister John Key said the interpreters' concerns had been acknowledged and were being considered by the Government but on Friday he would not comment any further on the issue.

Since the story, Christchurch-based former Afghan interpreter Diamond Kazimi, 19, told the Star-Times six interpreters had been "released" from the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and feared they would be excluded from any asylum offer.

However, the Defence Force said: "There are still 26 interpreters on staff and there is no change we are aware of."

Kazimi insisted six translators had recently been released from the PRT and told not to speak to media about their plight.

Every winter the army cut the number of interpreters and re-hire in summer but this year, Kazimi said, the consequences of being "released" were more severe.

"They are all really scared and so confused," he said.

If the Government offered asylum to the interpreters working with Kiwi troops, Kazimi asked if they would extend the offer to those recently stood down.

"They are really gutted and don't know what to do. Two or three have worked there for nine to 10 years and there is nothing they can do."

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- Sunday Star Times

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