Capt. Alex Perkins Seeking UK Citizenship For His Afghan Interpreter
London: Following in the footsteps of his great grandfather, Alex Perkins, son of Churchill’s grandaughter Celia Sandys, attended The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the first descendant of Churchill to do so. After being commissioned into the Scots Guards in 2006, Alex served in the army for six years during which time he made two tours of duty in Afghanistan. Since leaving the army at the start of this year, Captain Perkins has started a petition to persuade the British government to grant citizenship to Afghans who worked as interpreters for British units. “These people did not ask us to invade their country,” Perkins told the Chartwell Bulletin, “but when we did they tried their best to help us in the pursuit of a better Afghanistan.” As a result, the lives of these interpreters and their families are now in great danger.
When Alex, whose father Major-General Ken Perkins was a highly decorated soldier, first deployed to Afghanistan in September 2008, he was attached to the 1st Rifles as a platoon commander in southern Helmand and assigned an experienced interpreter named Barri. “Over the next five months,” Alex explained, “Barri proved to be an invaluable member of my platoon and was seen as a member rather than attachment.” However, for the interpreters “to provide the greatest effect requires them to be at the sharp end with the fighting troops and unfortunately this has resulted in a great deal being killed and wounded.” The danger does not stop there as the Taliban forces target the interpreters and their families. Barri’s brother was murdered. To safeguard his remaining family, Barri paid a human trafficker to get his mother, sister and last remaining brother out of Afghanistan. The refugees made it as far as Greece where they boarded an illegal boat bound for Italy. Filled to excess, the boat sank in the Adriatic drowning Barri’s mother and sister.
Barri and his brother were granted asylum by Germany last month and are now safe. The British government, however, has yet to take responsibility for those who provided their military personnell with crucial support before 2012. The petition Alex is co-sponsoring is being made to the Foreign Secretary. “It wouldn’t be too much work [for the government],” Alex believes, “as legislation already exists for interpreters who worked for us in 2012 and since to be granted a visa.” To view the petition, CLICK HERE .
Alex’s great grandfather, Winston Churchill, also first saw battlefield action as a soldier in the British Army in the same region of the world then known as the Northwest Frontier of India. This served as the subject of Churchill’s first book The Story of the Malakand Field Force. Now more than a century later, the story continues.