Too much choice: Refugees Ablikim Turahu and Abdulla Abdulqadir browse the menu at their guest house restaurant in Hamilton. *Photo by Earl Robinson (IFPO: 31341)
Too much choice: Refugees Ablikim Turahu and Abdulla Abdulqadir browse the menu at their guest house restaurant in Hamilton. *Photo by Earl Robinson (IFPO: 31341)
The Guantanamo affair may not have won Premier Ewart Brown too may friends at home, but he has been garnering plenty of praise abroad.

The most important voice has been that of President Obama, who thanked Bermuda publicly for the first time.

In a press conference, Obama thanked Silvio Berlusconi, prime minister of Italy, for agreeing to take three more Guantanamo refugees. He then added: "I have to say, by the way, that Bermuda has done us a great service, as well, on that front, and I'm grateful to them."

Dr. Brown has also received a letter from Congress thanking him for taking the refugees. The letter read: "We commend you for your political courage for taking these men into your nation and providing them with a new start in life. It is our hope that the American people will come to learn of your humanitarian decency and the great service you have done our country...You as a moral leader have made the right decision and we applaud you for it."

The letter - signed by chairman of Congress Bill Delahunt - goes on to say that internal investigations have found that the four refugees were only ever taken into custody because the U.S. was offering a $10,000 bounty for every man captured. A host of human rights organizations has also applauded Bermuda's decision to take the refugees. Amnesty international were at the forefront of that applause yesterday. The organization said it had noted the UBP's tabling of a motion of no confidence in the Premier and urged the island not to use the men as political pawns.

The organization said in a statement: "Human rights must transcend party politics. Justice for the Uighur detainees is years overdue. Their right to remedy has been denied them for too long. Bermuda has offered the beginnings of remedy for these four men. It is incumbent on all parties to ensure that neither diplomatic friction nor domestic party politics - whether in the U.S.A., Bermuda, or elsewhere - interfere with the ability of the men to rebuild their lives peacefully and with all the support mechanisms they need to adapt to life after Guantánamo."

Dr. Brown further defended his decision yesterday, saying he regretted causing Bermudians "disaffection and turmoil." However, the Premier said: "From where I stand political backlash has never been permission to walk away from what's right."