Video: Minister Fahy On Uighurs & Immigration

February 17, 2016

In order for the Uighurs to be able to leave Bermuda they need to become British Overseas Territory Citizens which is in the “hands of the British Government” and is “not an issue that we are able to fix in Bermuda,” Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy said today.

Uighurs

In 2009, four Uighurs were released from the US detention centre at Guantanamo and resettled in Bermuda, with controversy erupting after they arrived.

They were part of a group of Chinese nationals handed over to American forces in Afghanistan, but were subsequently cleared of all charges and were not repatriated to China due to fears of their safety upon return.

Back in 2013, lawyer Richard Horseman wrote to the Premier suggesting that the Bermuda pass legislation that will grant the Uighurs Bermuda status as they “remain in limbo” and are “stuck in the Bermuda Triangle.”

The letter from Mr Horseman said the four men were told that after one year in Bermuda, they would obtain citizenship and have passports.

Following that, Governor George Fergusson said the position of the four Uighurs is one “which the British Government is keen to see resolved satisfactorily for all concerned” and discussions will continue.

The issue of the Uighurs came to public attention again following a Bernews story yesterday which detailed some of the discussion relating to Bermuda and the Uighurs contained in emails sent by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Speaking outside the Senate today, Minister Fahy told Bernews, “An issue was raised today in the Senate about the Uighurs. You’ll recall that they came to Bermuda…four individuals a number of years ago, essentially under the cover of darkness without the knowledge of the British Government and without the knowledge of most Bermudians.

“We are now in a position where the only way in which the Uighurs will have some satisfaction that they will be able to leave Bermuda, is essentially become British Overseas Territory Citizens. That is in the hands of the British Government through the British Nationality Act. It is not an issue that we are able to fix in Bermuda.

“That’s obviously quite an important point, that we have these individuals here, they, from what I can tell, have been accepted into mainstream Bermuda society, but in order for them to leave, they need travel documents, which we have no authority to issue unless someone is naturalized. Naturalization means being naturalized by the British Government under the British Nationality Act, through the Governor.

 Immigration

“One of the other issues I had touched on this morning is to bring to the attention of the public, our public forum this evening at the Cathedral Hall at 6:00pm to discuss the Government proposals on pathway to status. I raised something which I think is very important,” Minister Fahy said.

“We hear all the time the Opposition saying, ‘Well, the Minister’s not out for Bermuda. He’s anti-Bermudian.’ I was very passionate about it because I couldn’t believe that … it shocks me that people even bother to say that.

“We are all Bermudians. We have Bermudian children. We want to see our children successful without our own country, but what we’re looking to do is find ways that we can secure the future of our children by making sure we have a population base here that is sustainable, that can pay into our tax system, that can make sure that our seniors are secure, make sure that our education system is secure.

“One of the ways that we can do that is to give residency and status rights to people who have been here for a very long period of time.

“Some have said, ‘Well, that takes opportunity away from Bermudians.’ I don’t see that any way. If someone has been here for 20 years and ends up becoming a status holder, they’ve been here for 20 years because they’re needed in this economic community in which we live, in the economic climate that we find ourselves in.

“It would be a sensible thing to do, to give them the opportunity to remain and continue to contribute to our economy.

Tonight’s Meeting

Minister Fahy added, “The meeting tonight is at the Cathedral Hall at 6:00 pm. We will give a presentation with data points, a Power Point presentation.

“They’ll be an opportunity for questions, but what I’m urging the community to do is come with an open mind, as to really analyzing why this really should be done, rather than relying on rhetoric that has been amped up in many sectors of this community, that in my view represents a very significant minority of individuals who are not either wanting to listen or perhaps just need to get the facts and the data.

“We are preparing to do that this evening and put some humanity to this, through sharing with the community testimonials of some of the people that would be affected by such a change.”

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Comments (34)

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  1. Jus' Askin' says:

    This is Priceless :-D

    OBA help who they want to help ;-)

  2. BDA says:

    I’m glad the the Uighurs were treated with respect and fairness since they arrived here in 2009. But for the life of me, I never understood why they didn’t go to the United States, since it was their war which led to them being captured in the first place. I’m sure the third largest and richest country in the world could have found space for four individuals.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Maybe you should ask ‘he who cannot be named’ or ‘the Col who is not really a Col’ about that.

      This is just another piece of messyness left in the wake of the PLP experiment. These guys are chained to the rock. They can’t go anywhere. They might have been better off if they were left in Guantanimo for the US to find a home for them.

      • TO TRIANGLE DRIFTER: You fail to realize that what the P.L.P. was left with from the notorious ubp was MESS!!
        That information should be available to you through government archives. Check it out!!

        • Build a Better Bermuda says:

          That is the trouble… this was done so behind closed doors that there isn’t any records… nobody even knows what we got for doing this, what favours were traded. As for what the PLP inherited from the UBP; budget surplus, growing economy, no unemployment, successful IB sector in growth… Yeah, Bermuda was a mess, sure education was sliding, but the PLP fixed that.

          • Triangle Drifter says:

            Thankyou. Saved me the keystrokes.

            Heaven forbid that the PLP had left us in the mess like the UBP did. We could only wish.

        • Navin Pooty Tang Johnson says:

          you should change your name from Have some Backbone to have some brain although you do not seem to be able to part with much

      • outkasted says:

        if you honestly think the U.K did not know about the Uighers?

    • “I never understood why they didn’t go to the United States, since it was their war which led to them being captured in the first place”
      It’s true, why hadn’t the Progressive Labour Party arranged for them to be sent there in the first place, (Col. Burch and Premier Ewart Brown if not mistaken)were responsible for them being here taking jobs Bermudians could / should be holding down, yet we don’t hear the P.L.P. making noise about them facts. (I wonder why? :-( )

    • Ed Case says:

      Because somebody could have got paid a ton of money in secret. He’s probably living on an island somewhere right now. Oh I wonder if there’s a vineyard close by?

  3. Takbir Karriem Sharrieff says:

    Passing the buck and Politicking again.Speaking out of both sides of his mouth and saying nothing of any real significance ,Since 2012 .Known in political language as double speak.Typical O.B.A. banter. O.B.A. is in its death throes trying to do as much damage and create as much confusion as possible for the P.L.P. to clean up when we win the next election.And we will.No Problem Begone O.B.A. and take your baggage with you.Peace.!

    • Unbelievable says:

      You don’t know either what you’re talking about.

    • hmmm says:

      What were you saying?

      Absolutely nothing truthful. Misinformation and propaganda.

      Shame on you.

    • Zevon says:

      Yesterday you said you wanted the zuighurs to get status. He is talking about how that might happen. Maybe you just don’t want to actually read what he said because you have issues.

    • TO TAKBIR KARRIEM SHARRIEFF: I agree with you 100%. TRIANGLE DRIFTER will take his raggedy old luggage with him!!!

  4. LOL says:

    Fly them on a private jet to Chicago and leave them at 5046 South Greenwood Ave, Chicago, IL. Barrack and Michelle will take them in.

  5. Takbir Karriem Sharrieff says:

    Well I guess we have to wait until the P.L.P.My party of choice gets back in the Government and O.B.A other bumbling association gets driven into the Opposition benches before we finally get ,our,beloved Island back on track where it belongs.The Isles of Rest and Peace.

    • Noncents says:

      @ TKS

      back on track? you are delusional.

      We are on this path because of the PLP’s incompetence. You really think a party lead by their incompetent leader is going to fix it. Get real

      Your party couldn’t fix me a sandwich.

  6. Coffee says:

    It blows the mind that a born Bermudian isn’t head of immigration . Now that is a tragedy ! That senator could have been appointed to any other ministry , but to control my borders seems criminal .. It’s like the fox guarding the chicken coop .

    It’s a serious affront to the right thinking people of Bermuda to have to suffer this huge injustice of mismanagement . ( I expect people who only see life in dollars and cents to bang on about dollars and cents ) but being a Bermudian is about pride and community .

    This government may have caught the crest of a small economic wave , but it is way out of its depth in relation to the proposed immigration amendments . The flavor of Bermuda has gone forever with this government .

    • aceboy says:

      This Uighur situation was caused by your hero and his side-kick. They ignored our Constitution and then lied to the people saying the men had all been cleared by the police.

      That is the kind of government you seem to want. Dirty deeds done in the dark stuff.

    • Sincerious says:

      The fact that you actually believe there is a born Bermudian anywhere belies intelligence. Just because you keep saying something does not make it any more true/ real.
      NO ONE receives Bermudian status jut by being born in Bermuda. For that little gem you need to go to a country like the good old US of A where just being born in the country makes you an American.
      A good number of persons continue to use the term because they are ashamed to say a person of particular heritage or racial background is what they mean to say. Neither of these attributes provide you status either.
      Born Bermudian is the unicorn or yeti of this little rock.

  7. John Naws says:

    I have no issues with 20 year residents receiving status however this needs to be coupled with the purchase of property. If you have been here for 20 years and are so keen to become a Bermudian then back it up with a real commitment to the island. One can argue that the 20 years is a commitment however that is something expats have been paid to do, the salaries and in many cases housing allowances are what attracted people here for each and every one of the 20 years, they weren’t here working for charity.

    • sad says:

      There is a real misconception here that all expats get massive housing allowances, live a life of luxury, and still manage to sent a huge chunk of their salary “home”. Perhaps the 5% at the top of their profession get the allowances and huge benefits, but of us are just ordinary people here, working an ordinary job, paying rent, buying groceries and paying our bills like everyone else. This has become home for some of us, and the possibility of living here, in our adopted home, among friends who have become our family, is a welcome one. It makes me sad that some people are so against this. There are many different kinds of expats; some with Bermudian children, who have been here for many years, families where some siblings have status and some don’t, and some yes, who are only here for the money, and really don’t want to stay permanently anyway. My point is that you cant lump all expats in one neat box, just as all Bermudian’s can’t be lumped together either. There has to be a way forward that is fair for everyone, and the first step to that is listening to what all parties have to say.

    • Noncents says:

      @ John Naws

      Terrible idea. Granting citizenship only to those individuals that can afford to buy property is discriminatory and would lend credibility to the otherwise ridiculous argument that the OBA are doing this to strengthen their voting base.

      • George C says:

        So should we grant citizenship to people who cannot afford to live on the island? Your point may be that they can afford to live on the island if they are paying rent or receiving a housing allowance however the key argument from the OBA is that we need these people to remain in Bermuda to spend and contribute. Status or non status these expats are going nowhere with the salaries that they earn(relative to their home country) and the reality is that when they cease working the majority will not be able to afford to live in Bermuda and will just bug out to Canada or elsewhere and buy their nice house for $750k. The result is that their children return to the island or stay on island with status and overpopulate an already crowded and competitive workforce. The same also applies to a good portion of those who can afford to buy property, the fact is that the majority of this group also have no intention of staying on island once their salaries disappear through retirement or redundancy.
        Anyway the irony is that this process is only going to make the work permit situation worse for expats. There is no chance that the OBA will win the next election and assuming this legislation is passed the PLP will be forced into a position in which they will not allow expats to reach this 20 year milestone. So if you’ve been here for 20 years then fill your boots and good luck but for all you 10 year workers your stay is just going to be cut short and I’m afraid you’ll have to take that 80% pay cut to do the same job back home (and pay a little tax too I’m afraid)

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      HA! Good one. While we are at it lets extend that to only Bermudians who have property get to vote. Stands to reason. They have a real comittment to the Island. Anyone else can simply up & leave.

      Or, how about this one? If you are a Bermudian, in any form, if you own property you get an extra vote. Better still, if you own property in multiple voting districts you get to vote in each of those distrcts. You have shown the comittment.

      Hmmm, seems like I have heard of that policy before. Some folks did not like it. I think it was those who did not own property.

      • planeasday says:

        Bermuda was once just as you describe sadly…the Glory Days of the past so many miss…

  8. Kathy says:

    The usa should be forced to take them back. The uk govt is not about to let this fumbled international conspiracy blow over! And they shoudn’t! It remains a problem for the usa to resolve not bermuda. Once they open their doors the humanitarian problem will be solved! No status, no commonwealth status for them. Let them ask for us citizenship! If they are innocent, there should be no reason it cannot be granted!

  9. Widget says:

    There here, lets leave them as they are. Give them status and I bet they catch the next flight straight out of here. Uighurs that is.

  10. Trisha says:

    Very cheap to get a Bermuda status, I supposed thousand will be applying.