2009-06-11

Bermuda accepts Gitmo detainees

The talking point in Bermuda has quickly become all about the sudden announcement that Bermuda is taking in four fomer detainees from Guantanamo Bay with the expectation that they will settle and obtain Bermuda status.

The blogosphere has erupted:

Vexed Bermoothes was first on the scene, I think, and was highly critical of this move. This was quickly followed by a lengthy series of postings on the BIAW forum, Catch-A-Fire, Newstocks and the Progressive Minds blog. Each of them are slamming the decision on various grounds, including:
  • why this decision was made without consulting the UK government, or even Parliament itself
  • why the United States isn't absorbing the people into their own society
  • what kind of payoff is involved, as it's been reported that Palau has taken on 17 former prisoners in exchange for a sum in the hundreds of millions of dollars
  • is this seen as a slap to the face for guest workers who have no chance of residentary rights despite giving back to the community and or becoming parents to Bermudian children
  • is the island potentially jumping into a figurative landmine by becoming involved with suspected terrorists

Message threads also exist on the Bermuda Sun website. Expect the local TV news to deliver lengthy reports on this story this evening and tomorrow.

There aren't many opinions in support of this move at this present time. I spoke with one of my buddies this afternoon and he essentially chided Bermudians for being self-centered and focusing on the wrong issue. He said that we ought to be thinking of the people, who have been declared innocent, yet are in a position of being without any form of residency now as China may not be willing to take them in and let them live freely, and the U.S. may not want them either because of still remaining as perceived threats to their country.

He mentioned that in the mid-1970s Bermuda took on Vietnamese refugees, as did many other countries. These were people who were without a country, so to speak and Bermuda played its part in taking them in. Not sure if any still reside here now, but I think my friend was trying to illustrate that when others need help we should be willing to lend a helping hand.

Relayed that opinion to another friend and his opinion remained that the issue remained that of being unfair to another section of the local population (namely guest workers) and a possible underlying factor of greed and deceit.

Let the debate continue.

3 comments:

Renaissance Man said...

FWIW, the four vietnamese refugees we took in the early 80s were as a result of a UN declaration. All democratic countries got a share of them based on their population at the time.

It wasn't anything altruistic by the government.

Tryangle said...

Thanks for the follow-up. I was a mere cub when this incident happened and it was only brought to my attention when I spoke with my buddy earlier today, he had gone to school with one of them if I recall correctly. Thanks for updating me on the actual timeline that this occurred as well.

Michael said...

This is what you can look forward to in Bermuda:

“… all four of the Uighurs admitted during their combatant status review tribunals (CSRTs) at Gitmo that they received training in the Taliban’s Afghanistan. And all four of them received this training at an ETIM/TIP terrorist training facility in Tora Bora, a key area once controlled by the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Three of the four Uighurs transferred to Bermuda also admitted that they had firsthand ties to senior terrorists such as Hassan Mahsum and Abdul Haq – the leaders of the ETIM/TIP. Haq was recently designated an al Qaeda terrorist by the Obama administration’s Treasury Department, which noted that he is also a member of al Qaeda’s elite Shura council. Mahsum was killed in a Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold in northern Pakistan in 2003.”