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Cannonier: We need to resolve Uighurs’ status problem

Talks with the UK and US governments over the Uighurs continue, Premier Craig Cannonier said yesterday. Mr Cannonier told

The Royal Gazette that the issue was raised with Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds and added that the UK position is that resolving the issue is a matter for Bermuda. The Premier said Government was seeking an understanding with the UK and the US that the four men would not be denied access to medical treatment overseas should they require it. Ablikim Turahun, Khalil Mamut, Abdulla Abdulqadir and Salahidin Andulahad were part of a consignment of 17 Muslims from western China who were released by US authorities after being held unlawfully in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba as “enemy combatants”. But the four were left stateless after they were brought to the Island under a deal arranged by then-Premier Dr Ewart Brown. “What I did speak to the Minister about was if there were to be a medical emergency concerning the Uighurs, our hands are really tied — we can’t even fly them out for medical attention,” the Premier said. “And I insisted that some form or some way could be worked out with the UK that if medical attention is needed that we can fly them out, and that they could return. “We’ve also been working with the US on a similar agreement. But as we go forward there are some options. I won’t speak on those options right now because we are in talks with the US and the UK about what some of the other options are, and we will make those known when its more clear that they may happen.” Mr Cannonier told

The Royal Gazette that Government is looking at all options and will be consulting with the Opposition. He agreed that if the men were to stay in Bermuda they would ultimately have to be given status. “I think we need to answer the question as to whether or not we want to continue to have them domiciled here. I’m looking at it very closely as to what those options are,” he said. “I don’t feel that anyone should be left without status — and we need to resolve it.” Granting the men Bermuda status would require a change in the law.

Former Guantanamo Bay detainees Salahidin Abdulahad, Abdulla Abdulqadir, his son Muhammad, Ablikim Turahun, his son Ali, and Khalil Mamut. (Photo by Mark Tatem)