Four Uighurs from Guantanamo Bay have been released in Bermuda where they hailed their new freedom, but Britain chided its overseas territory, saying it should have been consulted on the move.
US authorities ignored earlier demands by China for custody of the men, who had served seven years at Guantanamo, and flew them on Thursday from Cuba to Bermuda, an Atlantic archipelago that accepted them in a guest-worker program.
“Growing up under communism, we always dreamed of living in peace and working in free society like this one,” Abdul Nasser, speaking on behalf of the four, said in a statement released by their lawyers.
“Today you have let freedom ring,” the statement said of Bermuda.
Bermudan Premier Ewart Brown said the US would pay for the men’s resettlement. He said the men eventually would be eligible for citizenship, which would allow them to travel elsewhere.
But Britain chided Bermuda, a self-governing British overseas territory, saying that it should have first consulted London about whether it was safe to accept the men.
British Governor of Bermuda Sir Richard Gozney told the Royal Gazette newspaper that the Uighur transfer “was done without permission.”
“The government of Bermuda should have consulted with us because it carries with it foreign policy ground areas and security issues,” Gozney was quoted as saying, adding he was only informed about the move on Thursday.
In Washington, a State Department official acknowledged on condition of anonymity that the British were livid.
He said the US consulted Britain about the case, although possibly not long before the men boarded the plane.
Bermuda’s leader said he felt a responsibility to help the men trapped in a cycle of “tragic events” but who committed no crime.
“Those of us in leadership have a common understanding of the need to make tough decisions and to sometimes make them in spite of their unpopularity, simply because it is the right thing to do,” Brown said.
While US authorities say the Uighurs are some of the several dozen Guantanamo inmates who pose no security threat, US lawmakers cut off funds to resettle them in the US, saying they could pose a risk.
US authorities also Tuesday repatriated two other Guantanamo inmates — an Iraqi sent home to Iraq and an inmate arrested at age 14 who has dual Saudi and Chadian nationality and returned to Chad.
The Uighurs presented a unique case. China wanted them back but the US refused to send them, fearing they would face torture or even execution.
The Obama administration could nonetheless be ordered to free remaining Uighurs in the US if it does not resolve their case before a US Supreme Court meeting on June 25.
US Attorney General Eric Holder voiced gratitude to Bermuda.
“By helping accomplish the president’s objective of closing Guantanamo, the transfer of these detainees will make America safer,” he said.
US-led forces seized 22 Uighurs in Afghanistan after the 2001 invasion that toppled the Taliban and shipped them to Guantanamo Bay, where Washington has sent hundreds of inmates to be held indefinitely without trial.
US authorities cleared the Uighurs of wrongdoing and in 2006 sent five to Albania, incurring the wrath of Beijing.
Susan Baker Manning, one of two lawyers who accompanied the men to Bermuda, said the United States had a responsibility to free the rest of the Uighurs at Guantanamo.
“If we believe in our Constitution and if we believe in the rule of law, we need to do that,” she said.
Nury Turkel, a Uighur-American lawyer on the men’s defense team, saluted Bermuda’s “courage” but questioned how men who grew up in the deserts and mountains of Xinjiang would adapt to the sun-kissed, English-speaking isles.
LIFE GOES ON: After a strict lockdown that left millions on the brink of starvation, Indians embrace work to avoid starvation and get ready for several major festivals India is on course to top the world in COVID-19 cases, but from Maharashtra’s whirring factories to Kolkata’s thronging markets, people are back at work — and eager to forget the pandemic for festival season. After a strict lockdown in March that left millions on the brink of starvation, the government and people of the world’s second-most populous country decided life must go on. Sonali Dange, for instance, has two young daughters and an elderly mother-in-law to look after. She was hospitalized this year in excruciating pain after catching the novel coronavirus. However, after the lockdown exhausted the family’s savings, the 29-year-old had
A COVID-19 outbreak among hundreds of Russian and Ukrainian fishers flown to New Zealand to bolster its struggling deep-sea fishing industry has prompted that country’s largest daily increase in infections in months, authorities said yesterday. More than 230 fishers were flown in from Moscow last week, with 18 of the crew members then testing positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine, New Zealand Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said. The Pacific nation has almost eliminated local transmission of the virus, but regularly records small numbers of new cases in returned travelers. The fishing cluster pushed the daily tally of new infections to 25,
From monitoring vital signs to filtering filthy air and even translating speech into other languages, the COVID-19-fueled boom in mask-wearing has spawned an unusual range of high-tech face coverings. As masks become the norm worldwide, tech companies and researchers are rolling out weird and wonderful models to guard against infection and cash in on a growing trend. One of the wackiest comes from Japan, where start-up Donut Robotics has created a face covering that helps users adhere to social distancing and also acts as a translator. The “C-Face” mask works by transmitting a wearer’s speech to a smartphone via an app, and allows
JAPAN Deer-edible bags invented The deer that roam Nara no longer face discomfort — or far worse — after local firms developed a safe alternative to the plastic packaging discarded by tourists that often ended up in the animals’ stomachs. Last year, several of the 1,300 deer that wander around the ancient capital’s central park were found dead after swallowing plastic bags and food wrappers. Firms collaborated to develop bags that pass safely through the animals’ complex digestive system. The bags are made with recycled pulp from milk cartons and rice bran, one of the main ingredients of the shika senbei savory