Uighurs Have Been Granted BOTC Citizenship

August 27, 2018

[Updated] The Uighurs applied to Government House to be naturalised as British Overseas Territory Citizens [BOTC] and have been granted citizenship, the Ministry of Home Affairs confirmed, adding that it “should be noted that this citizenship is not to be equated with Bermudian status.”

“The Uighurs applied to Government House to be naturalised as British Overseas Territory Citizens [BOTC],” a Government spokesperson said in response to a request for comment following a report by Politica.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs is aware that they were granted the citizenship. As a result, they would be eligible for BOTC passports.

“It should be noted that this citizenship is not to be equated with Bermudian status. There is currently no legislation that would give them Bermudian status,” the Ministry added.

In 2009, the four Uighurs were released from the US detention centre at Guantanamo and resettled in Bermuda.

Controversy ensued after they arrived, with protests held locally over then-Premier Dr Ewart Brown’s decision to accept the four men, and the British Government also expressed its displeasure, stating that due to our status as an overseas territory the UK should have been consulted.

At that time, the UK’s Guardian reported, “The foreign secretary, David Miliband, is understood to have had a tense telephone conversation with the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, about why London was not consulted about the resettlement of the four men, despite the fact that Britain has colonial powers over Bermuda’s foreign and security policy.”

Emails to and from Hillary Clinton that were released years later referenced the Uighurs, with one email [PDF], dated 2009, referencing “looking forward, legal consequences of obtaining British Overseas Citizenship.”

The four men 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.

They have lived in Bermuda since 2009 in what some term as ‘stateless limbo’ or as ‘prisoners in paradise.’

Their citizenship, or lack thereof, has been a point of discussion for years. Back in 2013, lawyer Richard Horseman wrote to the then Premier suggesting that the Bermuda Government pass legislation that will grant the Uighurs, their spouses and children Bermuda status.

In 2016, the then Minister of Home Affairs said granting British Overseas Territory Citizen status to the Uighurs is “in the hands of the British Government” and is “not an issue that we are able to fix in Bermuda.”

We have asked Government House for comment and will update as able.

Update 12.52pm: In response to our queries, Government House said they are “not able to discuss individual applications for citizenship.”

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Comments (35)

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  1. James says:

    Wow, they got it before me and I have been here 37 years!

    • mixitup says:

      Were you held captive? Are you escaping turmoil? Are you stateless? or did you get the privilidge of repeated work permit extentions? Help us understand why you are still waiting.

      • Toodle-oo says:

        Of course this is all great and wonderful to you , after all , it was your crew who orchestrated the entire mess.
        Now, had it been them other guys who did this there wouldn’t be enough room in cyberspace for you to endlessly vent your anger.

        • mixitup says:

          Well giving status out like candy to residents that have ‘found’ some way to still be here doesn’t exactly equate to a humanitarian gesture offered to humans who had little hope…..Hell I’ve seen ya’ll more excited about the rescue of a dog…..makes you think.

          • Retro says:

            When has status ever been handed out like candy and how is that possible when statistics clearly show that our population is decreasing. Also , the humanitarian gesture argument is a bit weak as the two people responsible for bringing these four people here haven’t exactly put their necks out to ensure that they get status of some sort and your implication that certain people care more for dogs than they do for humans is dreadful. I find it strange that for such a xenophobic post that you would use the word y’all.never in my life have I heard a Bermudian say y’all . Where are you from?

            • mixitup says:

              Where in my statement did you pull Xenophobia? If I see thousands of Bermudians departing theses shores and hundreds coming in with their hands out for status, I will ask questions, call it what you like. I’d like to know that Bermudians have decent/fair opportunity in their homeland, as it looks, they don’t.

              “never in my life have I heard a Bermudian say y’all” Is this your standard for being Bermudian? Bermudians are people who have other Bermudians best interest at heart, and will stop at nothing to ensure this, are you that person?

              • Retro says:

                The xenophobia I see is that you are implying foreigners have some sort of agenda.Im sorry,but when you write “found some way to still be here” and more recently “with their hands out for status” it most definitely comes across as a biased opinion.

                As for the y’all thing fine,that was a little stupid . I just found it a little curious. For the record my definition of Bermudian is someone who holds status .would I like status to be awarded more fairly ? Absolutely!

          • Question says:

            And there you have it. Pure fascist naked racism.

          • FU says:

            Talking about dogs,why are you being such a bi××÷÷ch?

        • hmmm says:

          Don’t forget get it was Fahy and the rest of your crew that wanted to give every Tom, Bill and Jill status. The same crew who will never win an election. Now go wake the oba/UBP leader up she’s busy sleeping in de house. :)

          • Concerned Bermudian says:

            while the Parliamentary Registrar is working as they are… and the PLP jet setting around the world yet the public schools don’t even have principals in place!!! oh and don’t forget ALL taxes and regulation fee now added to belco all raised!! Bermudians PAY out far more and get what in return???

          • FU says:

            Would you have minded if they wanted to give everybody else status?

    • Mark Perry says:

      I’m glad to see that these men are finally on their way to putting this nightmare behind them. A nightmare that was not of their own making but was the created by a long line of decisions by politicians and other government officials that cared nothing about their individual rights and freedoms
      (including our own Dr. Ewart Brown and Mr. David Burch), but who were more concerned with satisfying their overgrown egos and building reputations for themselves within their respective political and social circles.

      I wish them and their families the very best in their future endeavors.

      • eve says:

        Brown and Burch bring Uighurs to Bermuda as a gift to Obama and Holder and US pays $100,000 “relocation allowance” per man. The US had been paying other countries large sums of money to take in Gitmo detainees but Bermuda allegedly only got $400,000. And who is picking up Horseman’s legal fees for his long term work?

  2. Retro says:

    “ it should be noted that this citizenship is not to be equated with Bermudian status” why should it be noted? The comfort people have with being xenophobic here is cringe worthy ! Having said that I am very happy for these four individuals .

    • Vortex says:

      Its a very good point, Bermuda needs to change its attitudes.

      The undertones of those xenophobic comments are not acceptable in 2018, least of all from the Government.

  3. nice says:

    About time they got something.

  4. jt says:

    The Doc’s mess finally cleaned up. And who got what? Never to be known.

  5. My My My says:

    Now they can apply for a British passport and be able to travel or live in the UK.

  6. My My My says:

    Now they can get a British passport and live in the UK.

  7. what about those legal residents.... says:

    and all the people who were kicked off the island (denied status) even though they held jobs and were contributing to our society…
    I wonder if the marches on parliament hill will start tomorrow? Oh yeah- the “right” government is in place now so it is okay…
    Typical populist double standard…

    • Agreed says:

      In order to be a “Double Standard”, there must first be a standard set in the first place.

      I really love the part that said, “It should be noted that this citizenship is not to be equated with Bermudian status. There is currently no legislation that would give them Bermudian status,” the Ministry added.

      The reality is, there was no legal means for them to even arrive on the island in the first place, but with dark back alley deals, secret midnight transport planes, and conspiring politicians, you’ll see the law is not a issue.

      The Uighurs and the case of Revered Tweed proves that it’s up to the oligarchy to define or redefine what being Bermudian is.

    • Angela says:

      They have jobs, and they contribute to society every time they buy food and other things. Those that you claim were kicked off the island (denied status) have another country to go back to and they can travel freely. They have been in a state of limbo since 2009.

      • Question says:

        Ah ok. Interesting. If Bermuda is taking on its international obligation to open its doors to refugees, there are millions of them around the world.

      • Little girl says:

        Children that were born and raised here and know no other home do not have a place to go to either .Their parents have contributed ,lived and worked amongst us.They have called us friends and raised their families with us.They are then told they are good enough to have status,all the while seeing people that have come after them ( in what ever circumstances)enjoy the right to live and abide here without restrictions. What an absolute farce all this is !

  8. facts of the rock says:

    British Overseas Territory Citizens,

    oh really???…..WHICH OVERSEAS TERRITORY should be the question!

  9. Kathy says:

    These men were accepted wrongly by the Bermuda Government…against the will of the Bermudian people, and against the will of the British Government who now is forced to provide them with British Citizenship.

    I blame the British Government for having waited so long. They should have acted swiftly and put these men on a plane bound for the most outer islands of the USA and have strapped parachutes on their backs and dropped them off, care of the Bermudian people and the British Government. What is America’s mess should not have become our mess, nor the mess of the British Government. Shame on everyone involved, especially Burch and Brown!

    • Angela says:

      I agree.

    • Paul says:

      What did Doc Brown do in his term as Premier for Bermuda ?all I can think of is the”love fest” Beyonce,his on call body guards,lord he wil go down as the best leader of our Island.

  10. Duane P Santucci says:

    Thank You Mr. Richard Horseman for not giving up on these men’s plight and to the rest of the un-grates that don’t understand the importance of this well deserve victory, get over it, and to all those who feel that there are others who well deserved the same or similar, they can take their appeals or case’s to Mr. Horseman and I am sure he will do a great job in representing you.

    Let’s not waste time trying to nit pick and why some are granted and some are not, my opinion there are some who are paper Bermudians right now and have been for quite a long time, and they treat the Born Bermudian like trash and less then a human being, so let’s be real, these joker’s who most are now business owners in this country, should have their Status revoked and sent packing.

    Well Done Mr. Horseman, you have wide shoulders, take a drink and let the nay sayers cry wolf, by the end of the week something else on Island will happen and they will forget all about this, sad but true, the majority in this country are so predictable.

  11. Bermudian says:

    Wait a sec….hundreds marched opposing the grant of Bermudian status to people who have worked and contributed to this island who have been here for decades and these lot who were snuck in at night and have only been here a few years and have hardly contributed to this island have it handed to them?! Why isn’t anyone marching now? Aren’t these lot going to take jobs away? Aren’t their kids going to take Bermudian land away from ‘real Bermudians’? That was the argument right?SMH

  12. Y-Gurl says:

    Given that these 4 were held as terrorist suspects at GITMO pre Browns deal to get them to Bermuda does that mean the UK Government are aware that these guys will be landing in the UK and what there terro status is, why do we continue to berate the UK and yet want them to accept our problems

  13. Mumbojumbo says: