Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ACTION: Help the UIGHURS to remain in Bermuda!

This is an exclusive photo of the Uighurs, as provided by Rushan Abbas and as posted on Andy Worthington's site. From L to R: Salahidin Abdulahad, Ablikim Turahun, lawyers Sabin Willett and Susan Baker Manning, Khalil Manut, and Abdulla Abdulqadir. For any use in a large publication I'm sure you will need to contact Andy Worthington. For the recent story and more photos please go here And read the comment there by a UIGHUR (evidently spelled variously)

Former Guantanamo detainee Abdulla Abdulqadir, left, shakes hands with a local man, center, as fellow former detainee Salahidin Abdulahat stands nearby, during a walking tour of the historic district of St. George, on the island of Bermuda, Sunday, June 14, 2009. Abdulqadir and Abdulahat are among four Chinese ethnic Uighurs who have just been released from U.S. military custody after years in Guantanamo, and are being resettled in Bermuda. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

For a Boston dot com article on this recent resettlement (if you can call any release from Guantanamo a resettlement?)- see here (or alternatively go here - also see the AMNESTY I report below.

Despite the innocence of these men there is the expected FEAR which has been whipped up over the years by American and British media toward the Guantanamo detainees as a whole although most of the population have been shown to have very strong innocent cases and a number have been cleared completely yet have nowhere to go due to this fear.

Key folk who know that there is a backlash and some want the UIGHURS out of Bermuda are asking anti-torture activists and the international human rights community at large to act as swiftly as possible to secure the new-found freedom of 4 Uighur captives recently released from Guantanamo to Bermuda.

The following information was just sent to a group I work with which addresses torture:

In brief, Sabin Willett - the Uighurs' attorney - reports that the opposition party in Bermuda's parliament responded to the release of the Uighurs to call for a no-confidence vote that would unseat the government.

Developments during the weekend past prompt genuine concern the minority party effort may succeed in bringing the government down. Since the Uighurs are resettled in Bermuda under the current government's discretionary grant of guest worker status, there is no telling what would this mean for their freedom and safety.

If you're interested in greater detail, please see Amnesty International's statement welcoming Bermuda's decision to accept four Guantanamo Uighurs, and re-iterating an appeal to the U.S. government to end all illegal detentions at Guantanamo immediately.

Some folk are suggesting going to Bermuda newspaper publications or radio programs to register a vote in favor of allowing the Uighurs to remain in Bermuda. (So far I can't find a working URL for this yet maybe you will be able to do, in which case place it in COMMENTS section please.) or perhaps your Comment after an article addressing this conflict in one of the local newspapers might help?

Another option for action suggested (independent suggestion from Amnesty International)- WRITE a note in support of Premier Ewart Brown's courageous humanitarian act and send it to his attention care of the British Ambassador to the U.S. and copy it to the opposition party leader, Honorable Kim Swan, United Bermuda Party.

Premier Ewart Brown, Bermuda
c/o British Embassy
3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Honorable Kim Swan, MP - Bermuda
c/o British Embassy
3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Amnesty International Indexed Report

USA: Human rights must transcend party politics Amnesty International welcomes Bermuda’s decision to accept four Guantánamo Uighurs, reiterates appeal to USA to do the right thing

15 June 2009 AI Index: AMR 51/076/2009

On 11 June 2009 four Uighur detainees held without charge or trial in the US Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba since 2002 were transferred to Bermuda. Their transfer came more than eight months after a US federal judge ruled their detention unlawful and ordered their immediate release into the USA. The USA accepted that the detainees could not be returned to China, their country of origin, because of the risk of torture and execution that they would face there, but failed to release them into the USA as even a temporary measure while it sought a third country solution.

Amnesty International welcomes Bermuda’s acceptance of these four men, as it brings an end to their unlawful detention and offers them the chance to begin to rebuild their lives. It calls on all parties with interest or influence over this situation not to jeopardize the human rights of these men or their ability to get on with their future, until now put on hold.

In a statement following the transfer, Bermudian Premier Dr Ewart Brown stated that the four men would be granted asylum in Bermuda and given the opportunity to become naturalized citizens. He said that the US Government would “bear the cost surrounding the relocation” and the Government of Bermuda would “facilitate documentation, residence and employment”. He further stated:

“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… I can say on behalf of the Government, we are confident this decision is the right one from a humanitarian perspective”.

One of the men, Abdulla Abdulgadir, said after his release, “When we didn’t have any country to accept us, when everybody was afraid of us…Bermuda had the courage and was brave enough to accept us.”

In reaction to the transfer, the opposition United Bermuda Party (UPB) tabled a vote of no confidence against the Bermudian Premier. This vote is due to be held on 16 June. Whilst the leader of the UPB has stated that the vote is not “just about Uighurs in Bermuda”, Amnesty International is concerned that the Uighurs are being used as political pawns, something that has also occurred inside the USA.

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 USA, 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.

The UK government has also criticized Bermuda on its decision to accept the men without first consulting the UK authorities – Bermuda is an overseas territory of the UK, administered by a Governor appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the UK government. Amnesty
If you need more talking points or want additional background, you may want to visit the following (not connected to Amnesty's suggestions)

Cage Prisoners (put UIGHURS in the search engine here - then read by date or by relevance - for the item reading " ...no walk on the beach" - you may need to simply scroll down past the white copy - rare on cageprisoners' articles) here and of course Andy Worthington has plenty more besides the items placed at top of this blog. See much more on his site on UIGHURS and other detainees- here Go to INDEX for specific detainees or groups of detainees.

There are other items suggested yet will have to find working URLS to add later...Do feel free to add your own suggestions to the COMMENTS below this post.

KEEP READING Bill of Rights Defense Committee for many related daily articles:
SEE home page for current actions and scroll down for news here or go directly to their news here

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