Friday, July 27, 2012

Reward For Services?


I DON'T KNOW whether those people who wax indignant and work themselves up about any real or imagined insult or infringement of the rights of "Our Boys" will get too bothered about "Bale". He may be what our tabloid papers automatically refer to as a "hero" but I suspect his face does not fit.

Then again, unfortunately, some of my anti-militarist and anti-imperialist friends too often confuse the policies that we rightly oppose with the blokes (or blokettes) who have to carry them out, so there is a danger they will miss a case of injustice involving a poor squaddie, just as they all too often miss the point.

But I think this case merits our support.

Isimeli Baleiwai, known as 'Bale' to his friends, comes from Fiji, in the Pacific. As a Commonwealth citizen he was recruited to serve in the British armed forces, when he was 18, and has served for 13 years. During this time he served in five operational tours including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Isimeli's wife Kim is British and they have two young children a boy of 3 and a girl of 6; both British. Bale voluntarily discharged from the Armed Forces on June 15th 2012 in order to provide stability for his family.

He had applied for British Citizenship in March while still a serving soldier. This was advised to him by MOD personnel because he had served 13 years and had a British wife and children.

But on June 28 his application was refused by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Bale sent an 'appeal for review' but recieved a letter from UKBA on July 14 stating he had until August 9 2012 to leave the country.

Under changes made to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1973 (ROA) in 2010 disciplinary offences dealt with at the Commanding Officer's discretion can now be equated to a criminal conviction.

Bale was fined in 2011 by his Commanding Officer for fighting with another soldier who instigated the fight. There was no police involvement, no trial, no defence and nor was it impartial. Bale did not know he was being charged with a criminal conviction. He believed this was an 'in-house' disciplinary offence only. He has no criminal record, this offence is only on his military record. There was no court martial. He has now appealed the conviction.

Under the changes made to ROA in 2010 Bale is now defined as a criminal by the Home Office and of not good character to become a British citizen or apply for indefinite leave to remain.

This is devastating for him and his family. It is a breach of Article 6 of the Human Rights Act (1998) and Armed Forces Covenant (2011). It is also inherently racist because the changes made will have no impact on his British Armed Forces colleagues because these military offences are not held on a criminal record. This change only has implications to Immigration Law and Policy. The family believe the law and policy is discriminative.

The Home Office has been using this 'Law' to deport Foreign and Commonwealth soldiers who have been medically discharged as well. Is this Great Britain or Ingrate Britain?

If I might insert a personal note, fighting between members of HM Armed Forces when they are not fighting the foreign foe on Her Majesty's behalf is not all that unusual. My dad, during his service upholding the Raj, had occasion to deck a couple of seargants one night, in anticipation of what appeared to him like a racially, as well as alcoholically, aggravated assault on his person. Having heard the circumstances, his CO felt compelled to impose an appropriate sentence, making my dad join the regimental boxing team.

Had the present rules been in force, my dad, the son of immigrants, might have been treated as a criminal, and if my gradfather had not had the foresight to become naturalised, even been threatened with deportation, and to somewhere not as nice as Fiji.

Getting away to the bigger picture, this treatment of a Commonwealth soldier, facing deportation in a few weeks time, is in remarkable contrast to the way the Border Control seems to take its time removing many convicted criminals from these shores, let alone the way wanted war criminals, dictators and kleptocrats have been welcomed to Britain, with their money of course.

Bale may be just one among many cases who have been unfairly and inhumanly treated (particularly when we remember his wife and children here), and his military services background has brought media attention that others don't receive. But that does not reduce in any way his entitlement to our support. When the authorities behave shamefully it is up to the people to set things right.
Last 10 minutes of show


We, the undersigned, call on the British Government to grant British Citizenship to Isimeli Baleiwai after 13 years military service with the British Armed Forces.

We, the undersigned, call on the British Government to review immigration Law and Policy regarding Foreign and Commonwealth Soldiers.

The Stop Bale being deported after 13 years serving British Armed Forces petition to Government was written by isimeli Baleiwai and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition. Contact author here.

The family are humbled by offers of donations, however Veterans Aid are advocating for our family and others like us. If you would like to donate please donate to them at

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