Resettled Uighur is desperate for work

  • <B>Ablikim Turahun</B>, one of the four former Guantanamo Bay detainees brought to Bermuda in 2009, is desperatley seeking work to support himself, his wife and child.<B></B>

    Ablikim Turahun, one of the four former Guantanamo Bay detainees brought to Bermuda in 2009, is desperatley seeking work to support himself, his wife and child.
    (Photo by Mark Tatem)

Uighurs timeline

June 11 2009
Four Guantánamo Bay detainees are flown on a charter plane overnight to Bermuda.
Their secret arrival, arranged by then Premier Dr Ewart Brown, created tension between the UK and USA. Neither the then Bermuda Governor Sir Richard Gozney, the Bermuda Cabinet or the UK Government were consulted about the transfer of the four Uighurs.

July/August 2009
The four Uighurs are given jobs as groundsmen at the Government-owned Port Royal Golf Club.

October 2010
After losing their jobs at the Port Royal Golf Club due to 'budget constraints', new private sector jobs were found for the four Uighurs. The announcement was made by then Premier Dr Brown, who declined to say where the men would be employed.

April 2011
One of the Uighurs was now married and living with his wife, who was expecting the couple's first child. According lawyer Sabin Willett, the other three men "dream of wives and children".

September 2012
All four men are now married having met their wives through the internet. Three of the Uighurs have become fathers.

One of four former Guantánamo Bay detainees controversially resettled in Bermuda is desperately seeking work as the men struggle with the high cost of living on the Island.

Lawyer Richard Horseman, who represents the four Uighurs brought to Bermuda in 2009, said yesterday that Ablikim Turahun is unemployed and having difficulty making ends meet.

“Ablikim has been out of work for now for two weeks and he is unable to provide food for his family,” Mr Horseman said. “We are desperately looking for employment for Ablikim.

“If anyone has a possible job for him, please contact me at 494-4000 in order to arrange an interview. He is a hard worker with no drug or alcohol issues and is willing to work long hours.”

Mr Turahun, along with Khalil Mamut, Abdulla Abdulqadir and Salahidin Andulahad were detained by US forces in Afghanistan after fleeing their homeland of Chinese Turkestan.

They were taken to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but after years of being kept in the infamous detention facility it was determined that the men were not enemy combatants.

In 2009, following a series of secret meetings, the four men were brought to Bermuda sparking international headlines. While Premier Ewart Brown said the move was a humanitarian gesture, the UK Government said he breached protocol by failing to consult with them before flying them to Bermuda.

They were originally given jobs at the Port Royal Golf Course, but found new work in the private sector 2010 after being made redundant due to “budget constraints.”

In a recent interview with the New York Post, the men said that they are essentially trapped in Bermuda, and are struggling to make ends meet due to the high cost of living in Bermuda.

One of the men, Abdullah Abdulqadir told the newspaper: “I can’t pay my rent. Now my wife and baby don’t have health insurance. I can’t cover it. I’d need to pay half of what I make.

Mr Horseman noted that the men do qualify for health insurance if they are working full time but said one of the four is not working full time. As a result, he is fully liable for his family’s health costs and for the treatment of his child.

Mr Horseman also noted that another of the four had elected to opt out of his health insurance due to the cost of the programme.

“When he signed the wife and child up to his insurance, he barely received a paycheck for the first week of the month,” he said.

Mr Horseman said yesterday the four men are essentially stuck on the island unless there is a change to the law.

“At the moment, they are trapped in Bermuda. The Uighurs are exiled here in Bermuda and for all intent purposes, stuck here for the rest of their lives unless something changes.

“We are considering all options to resolve their citizenship and status here in Bermuda but the prognosis is not good. They need to have passports and citizenship which will allow them to be truly free.”

He said that they are considering taking their matter to the European Court of justice, but said that such an effort is “a long way off.”

“At the moment, in the absence of any resolution of the matter by UK Government or a possible relocation by the United States to a more suitable location (in terms of where the men can obtain citizenship), then the situation looks bleak in terms of resolving their legal status in Bermuda,” Mr Horseman said.

Governor George Fergusson said yesterday: “The position remains that current legislation in Bermuda or the UK would not allow for the four gentlemen in question to obtain citizenship or travel documents issued by the Government of Bermuda or the British Government.”

A New York Post article reported at he weekend that all four men were now married to women they met through the internet, and three of them have become fathers.

Mr Horseman noted that the issue of citizenship lies not just with the men, but with their children who have been born in Bermuda.

“The children are obviously not Bermudian and they did not want to put Chinese as the men do not consider themselves Chinese but rather from East Turkestan,” Mr Horseman said. “They put ‘Asian’ on the paperwork but that is not a real citizenship.”

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Published Oct 2, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 1, 2012 at 11:15 pm)

Resettled Uighur is desperate for work

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