World

Bermuda accepts 4 Uighurs from Guantanamo

Four Chinese Muslims who were detained for years at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay have been released and resettled in Bermuda.

Four Chinese Muslims who were detained for years at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay have been released and resettled in Bermuda.

It's the first time since 2006 that the U.S. has successfully resettled any of Guantanamo's population of Chinese Muslims — or Uighurs — though their fate has been wending through the courts for years.

Abdul Nasser, one of the four detainees who landed in Bermuda early Thursday morning, issued a statement through his lawyers, saying: "Growing up under Communism, we always dreamed of living in peace and working in free society like this one. Today you have let freedom ring."

The Uighurs' lawyers said they will be part of Bermuda's guest worker program. 

U.S. officials did not say what restrictions, if any, would be placed on the Uighurs as they are resettled in the British territory located in the Atlantic Ocean about 1,400 kilometres east of North Carolina.

"We will consult regularly with the government of Bermuda on the status of these individuals," said Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd.

The U.S. government had determined that the Uighurs weren't enemy combatants and should be released. But China resisted their release and it had been unclear where they would go when freed.

Canada was among the nations that refused to allow them entry.

Thirteen other Uighurs remain to be freed from Guantanamo. Arrangements are being made for most or all of them to be sent to the Pacific island nation of Palau.

The Justice Department issued a statement on Thursday thanking the government of Bermuda for helping resettle four of the detainees.

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