The Uyghurs on their first anniversary here. *File photo by Kageaki Smith
The Uyghurs on their first anniversary here. *File photo by Kageaki Smith

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28: The UK is looking to the US to resettle the Uyghurs, a UK Minister has said.

The four former Guantanamo Bay detainees were brought to Bermuda in June 2009 after an agreement between former Premier Dr Ewart Brown and the Obama administration.

Solution

Henry Bellingham, UK Minister for Overseas Territories, commented on the issue during his visit to the island this week.

He said: “This is something that we weren’t consulted on by the last (Brown) administration.

“We have spoken to the United States about it — it’s our understanding that the arrangement was not to be permanent and we’re looking to the US State Department to find a permanent solution. We’re working with them to try and achieve that.”

The four Uyghurs — Khalil Manut, Ablikim Turahan, Salahadin Abdulahad and Abdulquadir Abdullah — are members of a Muslim minority group persecuted in China.

They were arrested in Pakistan in 2001 during the War on Terror and held at the US’s Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba for seven years.

Suspected of being enemy combatants, they were later released without charge after the US accepted they were not terrorists. But they could not return to China due to the oppression in their homeland.

The US refused to resettle them within its borders, and a deal was struck with Dr Brown.

But his failure to consult the UK government — which has overall responsibility for Bermuda’s foreign policy — led to friction between Government, the UK and US.

Britain has refused to grant the men UK passports, leaving them stateless and unable to leave Bermuda.