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Reform group ‘mixed’ over Uigur passports

An immigration reform group said last night that its members had “mixed feelings” over a decision to grant British Overseas Territories citizenship to four Uighur Chinese men who have lived in Bermuda for nearly a decade.

The statement from the pressure group came after the men, who were brought to Bermuda from the United States' prison on its Guantánamo Bay base, in Cuba, in secret in 2009, had been made British Overseas Territories citizens.

The move was announced by the home affairs ministry.

The men had been captured in Afghanistan during the US invasion in 2001 and 2002 but were later deemed to not be a threat.

Supporting Fair Immigration Reform said: “Some members are pleased with this news as these men can now travel.

“They were brought to Bermuda through no fault of their own and were promised citizenship but never received it.

“They now have achieved a major step to becoming naturalised.”

But the group added: “They cannot receive Bermuda Status as there is no provision in our current immigration laws that would allow this.”

The campaign group said that the decision was praised by some of its members, but that others were not pleased that the situation was “pushed to be resolved” faster than other immigration matters.

A group spokesman said: “Currently, we have so many different classes of people in Bermuda.

“There are some that are given partial rights and some that have no rights.

“We have people that were born or came to Bermuda 20 to 25 years ago and have absolutely no rights.

“They are treated just like a dependant of a work permit holder until they no longer become a dependant.

“Once they are no longer a dependant they must either go back to where their parents came from or find somewhere else to live.”

The group said that the ministry had advised in July that the Immigration Reform Group were in the final stages of creating recommendations to be in their document to be reviewed by Cabinet.

But the spokesman added: “As of today, nothing further has been released to the public about immigration reform.

“We once again implore and urge the Government to fulfil its own stated promise of comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform to correct the injustices and divisions that exist within many families in Bermuda.”

Fitting in: the four Uighur men from western China and released from Guantanamo Bay in 2009 and settled in Bermuda, back right, stand among some of the men of a local mosque in 2014 (File photograph)

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Published September 04, 2018 at 1:47 am (Updated September 04, 2018 at 9:11 am)

Reform group ‘mixed’ over Uigur passports

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