THERE is a concerted effort through social networking sites to urge the British government to allow a Fijian soldier to remain in the country he served for in the past 13 years.
Lance Corporal Isimeli Baleiwai wore the British Army uniform and fought in war-torn countries but now, he is fighting to stay in the country for which he put his life at risk in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and Northern Ireland.
The 32-year-old has been told by the United Kingdom Border Agency to leave the country by August 9.
His case has resulted in three Facebook groups being set-up with signatories calling on the British government to review immigration law and policy regarding foreign and Commonwealth soldiers.
According to BBC News, L/Cpl Baleiwai, who is married to a British woman, served in Afghanistan and Iraq before leaving the army last month.
"But disciplinary action for a 2010 fight with a colleague means he is considered to have a criminal record," it said.
The BBC report quoted a Border Agency spokesperson as saying that applications for settlement by ex-forces personnel were considered the same way as all others.
"This involves consideration of a range of factors including unspent convictions, whether passed by military courts or resulting from police involvement," the spokesperson told the news agency.
L/Cpl Baleiwai applied for British citizenship in March this year because he planned to leave the army, and he voluntarily left on June 15 after 13 years of service. However, on June 28, he heard that he had been refused citizenship and would also be refused indefinite leave to remain because he had what the UKBA classed as a criminal conviction.
On July 12, he was informed by letter that he must leave the country by August 9.
L/Cpl Baleiwai told BBC News that he had returned from Afghanistan "a mess", suffering from flashbacks and drinking heavily.
"To me, there was nothing wrong — I was normal," he said. "But now that we've had time to look back, everything was going wrong. The drinking was getting out of hand. I was getting in a mess that I was struggling to get out of."
L/Cpl Baleiwai said he then ended up fighting with his colleague. He pleaded guilty at the subsequent disciplinary hearing before his commanding officer and was fined 1000 pounds.
He said soldiers coming back from combat zones were likely to be emotionally damaged as a result of serving Britain and that the UKBA should make allowances when considering their applications.
"We're not going to be coming back of sound mind and good character because of what we've been through, the trauma we've been through," he said.