Uighur refugees granted citizenship

Uighur refugees granted citizenship

Bermuda’s four Uighur refugees, granted asylum in Bermuda in 2009 as former detainees from the United States detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, have been granted citizenship.

The men applied to Government House to be naturalised as British Overseas Territory Citizens, according to a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Home Affairs.

They will be eligible for BOTC passports, but their citizenship “is not to be equated with Bermudian status”.

The spokeswoman added: “There is currently no legislation that would give them Bermudian status.”

The four have been without passports since being brought to Bermuda from Cuba in June 2009, by Ewart Brown, then the Premier, and Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, who served as the minister responsible for immigration.

Abdullah Abdulqadir, Salahidin Abdulahat, Khalil Mamut and Abilikim Turahun, originally from Western China, were held by the US as suspected terrorists for seven years before getting cleared. The four have denied being enemy combatants, and also alleged that they would have faced persecution at home.

The online news site Politica reported this morning that the long-awaited naturalisation had been granted.

Their asylum, which was negotiated directly with the US Government without the consent of Britain, brewed a political firestorm for Dr Brown, who has defended the decision on humanitarian grounds.

Richard Horseman, the lawyer for the four men, has repeatedly called for their immigration status to be settled.