Dr Brown & Lt/Col Burch Respond: Uighur Letter

January 21, 2013 | 70 Comments

Former Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and former National Security Minister Lt/Col David Burch issued a joint statement this evening [Jan 21] in response to the letter from the lawyer for the four Uighurs.

Lawyer Richard Horseman wrote to Premier Craig Cannonier suggesting that the Bermuda Government pass legislation that will grant the Uighurs, their spouses and children Bermuda status.

According to Mr Horseman, the four men were told that after one year in Bermuda, they would obtain citizenship and have passports. He said the Uighurs relied on these assurances, and “made a leap of faith and boarded the plane to Bermuda” back in 2009.

Dr Brown and Lt/Col Burch said they “categorically deny” they reassured anyone that they would provide Bermuda status to the men. They also noted that no Premier can guarantee a promise after they leave office. “That is simply not credible,” the statement said. “In fact, it is downright stupid.”

“We could not give what we were not empowered to give. There are many people in Bermuda without status – people who have lived and worked here for longer than 4 years,” they said.

The statement noted that the PLP government fought off a no confidence vote for bringing these men to Bermuda, and resisted the British suggestion that we return them to the Americans.

“While the situation of these Uighur men is an unfortunate one because of their inability to travel, most would agree that temporary asylum in Bermuda is better than certain death in China, the interrogation rooms of Guantanamo, or the caves and hills of Afghanistan,” the statement said.

“Having read their lawyer’s letter, we are left to conclude that they and their lawyers would have preferred that they remain in prison until an ideal situation presented itself,” said the statement.

The statement ended by saying that they hope this situation is resolved in a way that allows these men and their families to “live freely and prosper,” and that they wish the men all the best

The joint statement from Dr Brown and Lt/Col Burch is below:

It has come to our attention that a letter addressed to Premier Craig Cannonier from the Law Office of Wakefield Quin has been circulated to the media.

Having read the letter, we are both shocked and disappointed by its contents. It is difficult to believe that this letter comes from the men who formerly repeatedly expressed their gratitude to the Bermuda PLP Government for rescuing them from prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2009.

The letter seems to imply that if there was no ideal or guaranteed permanent situation awaiting them, these men would have chosen to remain imprisoned at Guantanamo.

Meanwhile, we categorically deny that we “reassured” anyone that we would provide these men Bermuda status. We could not give what we were not empowered to give. There are many people in Bermuda without status – people who have lived and worked here for longer than 4 years.

While the situation of these Uighur men is an unfortunate one because of their inability to travel, most would agree that temporary asylum in Bermuda is better than certain death in China, the interrogation rooms of Guantanamo, or the caves and hills of Afghanistan.

We further clarify that no Premier can guarantee a promise after he or she leaves office. That is simply not credible. In fact, it is downright stupid.

Our PLP government fought off a “no confidence” vote for the very act of bringing these men to Bermuda. Immediately after they arrived, that same PLP government resisted the British suggestion that we return them to “the Americans”. What we are experiencing now is a classic working of the axiom, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

We also deny that we have “disappeared in thin air” and believe that this is drama created by lawyers who find themselves impotent in the face of the British Government’s refusal to alter the immigration status of their clients.

We did everything possible to make these men comfortable in Bermuda by providing initial housing and employment as agreed with the United States Government.

There are Bermudians who were born here and have worked and lived here all their lives who still do not enjoy the benefits that others have always had.

This does not make the unfortunate situation of the Uighurs justifiable or better; it is simply meant to put their discomfort in context.

In summary, we assumed that by aiding in the release of these four gentlemen from prison, we were in fact performing a heartfelt humanitarian act.

Having read their lawyer’s letter, we are left to conclude that they and their lawyers would have preferred that they remain in prison until an ideal situation presented itself.

Meanwhile, it is impossible not to note that in the lawyer’s release, the people of Bermuda are thanked for receiving the gentlemen, but the PLP Government that risked its very existence helping them escape a “hell on earth” is ignored at best and villainized at worst. That is very sad, indeed.

Finally, in spite of the offense launched against us, we hope this situation is resolved in a way that allows these men and their families to live freely and prosper.

In any event, we wish the men all the best.

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  1. Sour Eggnog says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/12/bermuda-accepts-guantanamo-detainees

    Brown said the men would be allowed to live in the self-governing British territory, first as refugees. He said they would be allowed to pursue citizenship and would have the right to work, travel and "potentially settle elsewhere".

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2009/06/bermudas-premier-explains-uighurs-in-their-midst/

    Brown says that the Uighurs "are landed in Bermuda in the short term, provided with the opportunity to become naturalized citizens and thereafter afforded the right to travel and leave Bermuda, potentially settling elsewhere…

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    • Tooth Fairy says:

      Ouch!!! Hmmm...so does this mean Dr. Brown & Burch lied to the Uigars, the US & UK Media, or the People of Bermuda?

      Does it mean they lied then and are telling the truth now; or did they tell the truth then and are lying now???

      So hard to keep up with the lies???

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    • LaVerne Furbert says:

      Neither of the statements that you refer to are in quotes which means to me that they are the reporter's interpretation and cannot be found anywhere in the actual statement sent by Dr. Brown.

      But who is surprised that you would prefer to believe anyone other than Dr. Brown? Certainly not me.

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    • C.B.A. says:

      LOL you mean Brown is lying again?

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  2. DreamCatcher says:

    I really think these Uighurs are the most ungrateful group of men this island has seen..found online wives, reproduced, and now want to cry fowl. They chose to engage in making there living situations more complicated with no assurance of what they can do to support families. What have these men done constructively in Bermuda since their arrival? Have they even bothered to learn to speak English or Portuguese?

    Government - please gift them that awful gaming boat eyesore - Nobe Corinthian and wish them well. Let them take that where ever it takes them. Fill it with fuel and tow them outside Bermuda waters and see what they choose to do. Better yet chart a course to take them to Haiti. They did like our turquoise waters after all.

    Bon Voyage.

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  3. SpinCycle says:

    "We further clarify that no Premier can guarantee a promise after he or she leaves office. That is simply not credible. In fact, it is downright stupid."

    I agree, making promises you know you cant keep is kinda stupid!

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  4. swing voter says:

    If they really were allowed here for non other than humanitarian reasons, why couldn't the UK be advised before the landed. we've taken in refugees under these conditions before. truth is our then Premier and Minister were acting way beyond their authority and were fortunate only to face a no confidence vote. just another reason why the OBA are in office. thanks for ruining the PLP guys!

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  5. Watcher says:

    Brown and Burch are both lying. How do I know.......their lips are movin

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  6. Tooth Fairy says:

    You made the "Americans Problem" - OUR PROBLEM!!! You two put us and these unfortunate Uigars in this position. You had no right or obligation to put US or THEM in this situation.

    I understand that the US are our neighbours and friends but do true friends abandone us and leave behind tons of enviromental waste dumped in caves on the land they formerly occupied during their stay on the US base!

    I truly feel bad for these men and they do not deserve to be in this position. It is not their fault as they did not ask to be here. Dr Brown and Col Burch - YOU secretly introduced and caused this mess and have walked away from it! Why should we believe you now!?

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    • Just Us says:

      @ Tooth Fairy and all you other nut heads: What would you have done being in the Uighur's situation? Your own country wants you dead and there's nowhere else to go... This is no were as bad as how some of you men treat the women you go around the world shocking and jiving about what you promise to do for them, even going as far as marrying them to come back to your country to make them your sex slaves and even threatening them into submission. At least Dr. Brown has done something for humanity by giving them a home. All of You that are making your barbaric comments sound like a bunch of caveman and are no better then the worms in the ground and even they have a purpose... How many of you were asked to come into this world? Probable non of you were planned to be in this world. May God bless all you selfish mofo's...

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      • I say, send them home. Let their own country do what that they may with them.

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        • Clive Spate says:

          And you have love in your username!

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          • Eastern says:

            I blame the United States of America as they caused this problem in the first place. How dare they send (or attempt to send) these persons that they have dragged to Quantanamo Bay to third countries, when the United States have refused to accept them in their own country.
            What hypocrites they are.
            Despite the fact that there are several Uighur communities in the United States, they don't want them in their country, but are willing to send them to our country. Nasty, nasty, nasty.

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            • @Clive Spate. Sorry if u feel offended. But my name is for what I love. Which is Bermuda and her Bermudain people. I never asked for them to come here. What about my fellow bermudains who r struggling to survive? I want them to come first n formost before outsiders.

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      • Sledge Hamma says:

        Its not what Dr. Brown and Col Burch did that we have a problem with - IT'S HOW THEY WENT ABOUT DOING IT!!!!! Despite what they felt....you don't always have to deceive us!!!

        You will notice that @Toothfairy said "I truly feel bad for these men and they do not deserve to be in this position. It is not their fault as they did not ask to be here. Dr Brown and Col Burch – YOU secretly introduced and caused this mess and have walked away from it!"

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        • Islander says:

          Was it true that other countries that took in Uighur’s received funds and how much???? If Bermuda did, can someone please show copy of the cheque or a receipt... hold on, maybe the name of the payee was changed - Bermuda, remember what you do behind doors most definitely kicks you in the backside later on and still being denied - proving to be blatant liars, schemers, ______ and you fill in the rest.

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  7. bermuda boy says:

    Dr. Brown, Col. Burch, Those names still make me sick when I see them.
    Thanks for the mess you gave us.

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  8. Jim Bean says:

    Burch and Brown! My lord! Ship them to Gitmo!

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  9. Unjrust Realities says:

    This whole issue just stinks of more ignorant politic game playing!!! How timely that Mr.Horseman waited for the paint to dry after the election to launch this appeal to the immigration minister. With all the outspoken disrespect and disregard for the former government he obviously told these four men to hold on and wait, once the new government is in, we will launch the appeal then. As much as the people of the country hate these two men, you are guaranteed a shoe in . . . really??? Are we that stupid????

    Both Dr. Brown and Col. Burch are two of the most outspoken forthright men that I know, whether you like them personally or not, they say what they mean and mean exactly what they say. As in any other country, when persons are given assylum, they DO NOT automatically get citizenship. . .they are given a place to stay and work and like any other non-citizen must follow the timelines if they wish to gain citizenship.

    I don't care if they have married and have children or who they have done it with!!!!! They were not given any guarantees, and I think it is a deplorable for an attorney to use the political arena to manipulate the laws and regulations of a country.

    In simple words, if these four men do not wish to do what they have to do and wait out their ten years to apply for citizenship, then pack your bags and find another country to take you in!!!!

    Mr. Horseman should have more character abd dignity than to try and play the people of this country as stupid!!!!!!

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    • .am says:

      "In simple words, if these four men do not wish to do what they have to do and wait out their ten years to apply for citizenship, then pack your bags and find another country to take you in!!!!"

      ..and travel on what passport?

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      • Islander says:

        Add them to Brown/Burch's.

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      • dthtoo/ says:

        The manner in which the Uighurs came in (without passports) they can likewise depart. As it stands, we are now accommodating eight adult foreigners (that is if all four men are married) and how many babies?

        Why in the world is it taking the U.K., Bermuda and the U.S. so long to solve this situation? How did their wives arrive on the island? Surely they came from countries which they called home. That being the case then their husbands and babies could return to those places from whence their wives came. Couldn't they?

        Have the Uighurs indicated that they would like to remain here?

        OBA, send them on their way - please don't let them stay.

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    • Eastern says:

      @ Unjrust Realities

      Do you not realize that these men are stuck here. They cannot by law be given status or citizenship.

      But then again it is obvious to me that you enjoy being "deceived"!!!

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  10. .am says:

    When did the wives and kids things happen? And if they did, indeed, 'find online wives' (as someone said earlier) then wouldn't the spousal/nationality thing allow them to reside in the country of their wives origin?

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    • .am.... U do have a point there

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      • .am says:

        Apparently they were married when/before they fled the country, so it's not like they jumped on ChristianMingle.com to find themselves a bit of tail.

        Nevertheless - even though their circumstances are special, their wives and kids (circumstances) aren't. Until those four have been here for (20 years?) they aren't eligible for a PRC so, until that time, those spousal benefits cease to exist. They are, for all intents and purposes, guest workers.

        All that said - the situation is what it is. No reason Bermudians have to be dicks about it.

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        • Cleancut says:

          Permanent Residence Certificates are no longer available unless the new government brings it back to the table.

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    • Eastern says:

      They can't travel without passports.....duh...

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  11. frank says:

    will some one go up to government house talk to the governor and president. america has to take these men back and how the hell did the wives get here i thought these men were already married .and don't get it twisted the chidren are not staying here those fools sound very ungreatful and who is paying mr.Horseman hmmm

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  12. e says:

    ... United States had promised to pay $85,000 for each prisoner Palau accepts.

    http://www.welt.de/english-news/article3912841/U-S-sends-four-Uighurs-to-Bermuda.html

    Other countries were paid per refugee, not a lot but imagine $100,000 per refugee - that's $400,000.

    You can't be naive and think that Burch/Brown weren't paid too. Perhaps that's why they did it behind closed doors? And perhaps that's why they didn't think beyond their own payday.

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    • swing voter says:

      you shouldn't make statements you can't prove. I'm not defending the dynamic duo by no means. All that we know for now is that they acted without mandate and broke several protocols and should be investigated. To suggest they were paid is premature

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  13. BDAGIRL says:

    Brown and Burch you are shocked and disappointed!!!!We don't care how you feel. You had no right to bring these men here without the permission from the UK. You have put these men in a difficult situation. You two really didn't think this through.Now they are married and have children its more of them. Bermuda was not in a position to help these four men. There are countries out there that have a bigger population then Bermuda that they could have fitted into. So you two need to disappear and mind your own business. We will clean up your mess.

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  14. Victor says:

    "We had to lie to you." Remember who said that and when? Plus ca change.

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  15. Bobmarlin says:

    Ewart and the Colonel should be made to house,feed and provide work for the Uighurs until they are delivered back to the U.S A.
    The U.S. govt found the Uighurs in terrorist training camps and took them captive.The U.S authorities then made a back room deal with our sleazy politicians,that resulted in the Uighurs being dumped in our laps.The colonel and the doctor,should be prosecuted for breaking the law,regarding The Constitution.
    Failing that,The USA should pay off our National Debt as fair compensation!

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  16. M.P.Mountbatten JP says:

    As you said DREB , "no good deed Will go unpunished ."Bermuda is still being punished after your divisive , disastrous , diabolical term in office . When you took hold of Bermuda , she was a most beautiful woman . After , wellll , IDK ...She's pretty beat up and just about limping along . As for De Kernal , Stay tethered to North Rock Sir ... out of sight out of mind .

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  17. Choir Boy (Original) says:

    Unjust: I'm interested to know where they would be applying for citizenship after ten years? Surely not Bermuda since Bermuda doesn't have such a policy. Just ask the thousands of people who have been here more than ten years who already can't get Status. You saying that these suspected terrorists should get special treatment?

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    • Islander says:

      I think it is that you have to be married to a Bermudian Spouse for 10 yrs and living together for that entire time.

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  18. Just Us says:

    I'm with you Unjrust Realities. I won't be surprised if Mr. Horseman has already sat with the present to discuss these issues and was given that card to play. We can only wait as see what comes out of this.

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  19. Just Us says:

    I meant to say present government....

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  20. blankman says:

    From the Daily:

    "Dr Brown said in a statement that day: “These men are landed in Bermuda in the short term, provided with the opportunity to become naturalised citizens and thereafter afforded the right to travel and leave Bermuda, potentially settling elsewhere.”"

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  21. Johnny says:

    Most of you are just plain vindictive, what was said is that these men will be free to PURSUE citizenship. For those of you that need brushing up on your English, nowhere in the world does pursue mean guaranteed.

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  22. youngblackmen says:

    I THINK YOU SHOULD SEND THEM CHINESE BOYS BACK HOME...AMERICA PUTS UP A FU(#in STOP LIST FOR WEED SMOKERs BUT THEY SEND US THE TERRORIST!!!!FED UP WITH THIS SH!#..UIGHERS CAN FALL BACK N LAY DOWN LET THE BERMUDIANS INTO THE U.S N OFF THIS DAM STOP LIST!!! AND TAKE BACK YOUR TRASH U LEFT IN BERMUDA!! IF THEY CAN TRAVELL FOR WAR CRIMES AND I CANT TRAVEL CUZ OF MY SPLIFF THATS FU(K€D UP!!

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    • Idiot says:

      Careful, your ignorance is showing. The USA couldn't "send" them here without cooperation from someone with AUTHORITY, so you are blaming the wrong mystery entity. Fool. Have another spliff. Clear your head.

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  23. Xman says:

    This truly the left over problems of the PLP - and now the they want the Govt.of the day to handle it.- sick!
    Dr.Brown should be arrested and Charged for willfully bringing these people into Bermuda without permission.
    plus he did'nt even inform his own political Party.- this man made mockery out of his post at the time.
    Any deal of this magnitude do with the U.S.State Dept.CIA,and right up to the President involves Big Money-
    so the question is were is and who got the money? ---Dr Brown your not fooling me!
    Dr Brown should foot any bill they have plus any other concerning problem they have.

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  24. Y-Gurl says:

    Brown and Burch lied, why would anyone in this Country be surprised about that, question that needs to be answered is if money was paid (unlikely it wasnt) where did it go, HSBC Cayman , HSBC Turks, and which authourity is going to get it back. We have and have had hundreds of good (non terrosist suspects) who have been denied status and if this Goverment gives these guys status I see a problem for them going forward.

    Why cant these guys get a passport from their own country, give them a work permit, therby treating them no differently than anyone else.
    Or as I have said before, return these guys and let the US deal with their own terror suspects and they can go after any money that was paid

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  25. Downright Stupid says:

    nice reasoning -- the lawyer, the Uighurs and anyone who might question Brown or Burch is Downright Stupid. nice.

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  26. RDavies says:

    Here is a thought. Why doesn't the bermuda government contact one of the stable Middle Eastern countries or any country where Islam is prominent that is safe. These men were persecuted for their beliefs and culture and cannot go to China, they don't belong here either. So why doesn't our government reach out to a nation like Qatar, UAE etc. etc. and ask if they would grant these men and families asylum where they can live and practice more freely.

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  27. CranberryMan says:

    Ah yes - Brown and Burch once again reminding us all of their Statesman-like qualities... NOT!!!

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  28. Bermudian says:

    Its very hard to believe EB when he brought them in very secretly without the people of Bermuda voting yay or nay. Unfortunately EB's credibility is gone with me. Mr. Horseman should just stop pushing for status and convince them that they should be grateful they're allowed to stay here. What I want to know is, what did Bermuda receive in return for allowing these men to seek refuge here. I want the current Government to bring whatever evidence they have to light and be real with the people of Bermuda. AND in case anyone has forgot these men were in Guantanamo Bay....why do we want them here anyway????

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  29. ohyea! says:

    it is "downright stupid" that they are here in the first place

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  30. Joonya says:

    They gotta wait to get citizenship like everyone else unfortunate for them. If they really dont like that, then go knock on Ewart's door down at Devonshire for help. He brought you here without UK consent. Failing that go speak to the new US Consulate, as they removed you originally. They should pick up the bill and relocate you to a more citizenship friendly country.
    Please. Do you how many adult Portuguese that have spent most their lives here and do not have Bda status. Brown should have thought more about this move, but I am sure he did not guarantee automatic citizenship.

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  31. hmm says:

    Unfortunaetely these men may find out what a lot of other bermudians are going through that you may never ever be able to leave this island, many people are on the no fly list, and many are on the stop list, feel sorry for these guys as they have no idea what they have gotten themselves into coming to this little island. You may not ever be able to get off!
    Unless the UK picks you up and wherever your destination is if you're lucky to get off you will probably be stuck there for a while. This is way beyond a bda problem.

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  32. jt says:

    Two people we should all be glad to see the ass end of - preferabley in orange and over a fence.

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  33. Vulpes says:

    Perhaps the current PLP leadership could let us know where they stand on this matter, especially given what their eminent former leaders are saying - the latter seem to bleating like they are due a Nobel Peace Prize for their humanitarian efforts whilst the rest of us are still left wondering what really went down knowing that EFB never does anything for nothing.

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  34. funny bone says:

    Why is Mr. Horseman fighting so hard for status for these people and we have many others who have been in Berumuda for years that still have not been granted status.................

    Would not those with PRC's be first on the list to get status????

    Mr. Horseman needs to get his priorities strait...

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  35. funny bone says:

    According to Mr Horseman, the four men were told that after one year in Bermuda, they would obtain citizenship and have passports. He said the Uighurs relied on these assurances, and “made a leap of faith and boarded the plane to Bermuda” back in 2009.

    Mr. Horseman ............we the Bermudian people did not promise anything these men, as the Brown and Burch promised these these things and they BOTH SHOULD BE COURT MARSHALLED FOR TREASON .............HAD SOME ONE ELSE DONE THE SAME THING THEY WOULD BE BEHIND BARS FOR A LONG TIME ...........JUSTICE SHOULD BE SERVED FOR PROMISES THEY "BROWN & BURCH" SHOULD NOT HAVE PROMISED AND HAD NO RIEGHT TO HAVE PROMISED THIS TO THESE PEOPL.

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  36. James Rego says:

    Brown and Burch should have been / should be charged with smuggling / human trafficking!

    What do you think would happen to you or me if we were to sneak someone into Bermuda? Why is there two sets of rules which depends on who you are?

    Our former Governor was spineless and that's why this mess is still festering. They should have been charged immediately upon discovery!

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