Walking the walk: Protesters at last week’s rallies have been roundly criticized by the Premier. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Walking the walk: Protesters at last week’s rallies have been roundly criticized by the Premier. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Defiant Bermuda Premier Dr Brown stood by his decision to bring four freed Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Bermuda saying 'we did the right thing by our God, our country and our people'.
To cheers and foot stomping from PLP MPs, the Premier rose just before 4am on Saturday to say the words they had been waiting for: "I'm sorry".
Speaking shortly before the vote of no confidence in his Government was shot down, Dr. Brown apologized for the 'disaffection and turmoil' the move had caused.
But he stopped short of admitting he had done anything wrong, insisting he had broken no law and violated no aspect of the Constitution.
And he turned the tables on his critics, characterizing the UBP-tabled motion as a cynical power play and admonishing protesters, who took to the streets last week, as a racially-charged hate mob. Turning to the Uighurs, he said Bermuda had helped to free four innocent men, attracted universal praise and thrust their plight into the world spotlight.
His remarks drew praise and cheers from some PLP members but it did not go far enough for others. Long-serving cabinet minister Dale Butler turned in his resignation shortly afterwards commenting that it was 'not a unifying speech'.
Asked about this criticism on Monday the Premier said simply, "I thought it was". The Premier's speech has not been widely circulated or reported at length and here we republish selected excerpts.


On the UBP:
"They and their rabid newspaper have been relentless in their criticism of the PLP and me as its leader...
They are users. Today they are users of four homeless, stateless innocent men... who left a land of physical, religious and cultural persecution and discrimination to seek freedom only to become confined to the hell of the infamous Guantanamo prison and to finally gain freedom on the shores of our beautiful Bermuda. Today it is the Uighurs, tomorrow it may be something else, but the motive never changes - they want to depose me as leader of the PLP and they want the Government....
They have no heart, they have no soul."

The apology:
"I know there is genuine disapproval and dismay at the decision to offer refuge to these four Uighur men on behalf of the Bermuda government. I recognize that actions to assist these four gentlemen have brought great disaffection and turmoil to my colleagues, my party and my people. For that I am sincerely regretful. I meant no harm and I meant no disrespect. I apologise to members of this house and the people of Bermuda for any of my actions that have caused pain [or] confusion..."

On the deal with the U.S:
"No law was broken, no constitutional provision was flagrantly violated... it is important for you to know that neither I, nor Minister Burch, wittingly violated anything.
We looked at the constitutional relationship with England and genuinely believed that our right to control and manage immigration for ourselves preserved for us the right to allow these four men into Bermuda."

On the motion of no confidence:
"A thinly disguised attempt - callously and unconscionably using the immigration of four unfortunate gentleman - to try to undo what the people of this country did in the general election of 2007 and my venerable PLP party did when it elected me to its leadership in October 2006... The UBP, its newspaper and its supporters have embarked on a vicious campaign to steal what they could not earn - the governance of this great island."

On last week's public protests:
"A rally staged by UBP supporters full of rancour, hatred and disrespect that we have never seen before and I hope we will never see again.
Take a picture of their organisers and supporters on Tuesday, Mr. Speaker, and colour it black and white. Superimpose it on one of the pictures of the racially charged mobs in the deep southern U.S. in the late '50s and early '60s... not one word of condemnation from the UBP...
They (the UBP) practise selective morality. They are empty, vacuous, self-serving, malicious users... The UBP and their supporters can turn out for a march to try to emasculate the Premier of this country but they are nowhere to be found when we call a sit-in for peace in this country."

On the upside of the Uighur deal:
"This was a humanitarian gesture on behalf of all of Bermuda.
Bermuda has much to be proud of in what we have done - four innocent men are free...
There are good-hearted Bermudians that understand as a result of what tiny Bermuda has done people all over the globe have come to know the plight of the Uighurs."

On BDA's relationship with the U.S.
"We are deepening a 400-year friendship with America that has served us well. They (BDA public, PLP MPs and so on) acknowledge that our efforts to assist these men have been recognized and applauded by President Barack Obama himself, several U.S. Senators and Congressmen and human rights organisations the world over."

On the constitutional row with the UK:
"I respect the Constitution of Bermuda and our relationship with England and until my dying day I will proclaim that I viewed my authority differently than England did and move accordingly, but I meant no disrespect to them, the Governor or the Constitution...
When President Obama called last week to thank the people of Bermuda, was I supposed to tell him that I could not speak because it was outside my remit, but I would refer his call to His Excellency, the Governor?
I apologise but I cannot totally leave the fate of Bermuda in the hands of England... we need their friendship (the U.S.) like we have never needed it before.
I apologise if my love for my country and my desire to maintain friendships that are essential for our economic survival made me look at the Bermuda Constitution liberally and say 'yes we can' instead of 'may I, please sir'."

On the decision to accept the Uighurs:
"I am a child of God and I am an instrument of his peace and when I agreed to allow four innocent people from an unheard of Uighur-land into Bermuda, Mr. Speaker, I was performing an act of grace that might not have been approved by our Queen in England but I can assure you it was pre-ordained by a higher power...
This is bigger than me. Four innocent men are free and the plight of the Uighur people is being told. If you don't feel that vibration, I cannot help you...
If I had known what would have transpired I might have acted differently... in spite of what has transpired I am ever confident that it was the right thing to do. I honestly now believe it was the ordained thing for Bermuda to do."