16 July 2010

UK government refuses to grant visas to Iroquois lacrosse team

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An Iroquois lacrosse team has had to forfeit the first game of an international meet because the UK government has refused permission for the team to enter the country using passports issued by the Iroquois confederacy.

UK visa

The Government has refused to issue a UK Visa to the members of an Iroquois lacross team because it does not recognise their travel documents.

UK Border Agency officials told the team they would be granted a UK Visa only with documents considered valid by the UK, for example a US or Canadian passport.

The Haudenosaunee is a confederacy of six Iroquois nations that oversees tribal land that stretches from upstate New York into the Canadian province of Ontario, but the UK Government does not accept the confederacy’s travel documents are valid.

The team says they have used these documents to travel for 20 years, and using other passports would be an attack on their identity.

The US government at the behest of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have given a once-off permission for the team to travel on the Iroquois documents, but the UK government decided against issuing UK visas for the team.

"These passports are not internationally recognised as valid air travel documents," a British Home Office spokeswoman said.

The Iroquois team, which ranks fourth in the world in lacrosse, was to play against England at  the opening match of the Lacrosse World Championships in Manchester yesterday night.

The team has always travelled on the confederacy's documents as an expression of their identity, but US officials have said they do not meet new, stricter passports standards.


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