I’m not entirely sure what to make of Bermuda’s controversial decision to accept four former detainees of Guantanamo Bay. On the one hand there is the “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” argument in favour of accepting the four Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim minority from the Xinjiang province of far West China. The four have long been declared a non-threat to the West and imprisoned unfairly by a paranoid and over-zealous US system and clearly could face torture or worse if they were sent back to China. As a strictly humanitarian gesture, Bermuda may deserve some credit. (Palau, a tiny Pacific island of 20,000, is to accept up to 17 Uighurs). After all, with the number of expats leaving the island right now, what’s four more at the end of the day?
But something clearly doesn’t smell right here, as it usually does around Premier Ewart Brown. The fact that the UK Government and the Governor knew nothing about this is disturbing and the Premier’s insistence that there was no quid pro quo just doesn’t ring true. The self-serving Dr. Brown doesn’t seem the type of politician to go out on a humanitarian limb without something in return. If not, why would the US ask tiny Bermuda to take them when there are bigger countries that could far more easily absorb the men? The Bermuda public have a right to know what deal, if any, was done. Did Obama agree to torpedo the Neal Bill perhaps?
And on a purely selfish note, I’d like to know how come “the Uigur Four” get given Bermuda status and yet someone like myself, who has lived and worked here for more than 26 years, is denied this privilege?