Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bermuda Premier Escapes Censure Over Uighurs

Bermuda Premier Escapes Censure Over Uighurs

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Published: June 20, 2009

HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) — Bermuda’s premier survived a no-confidence vote on Saturday aimed at punishing him for allowing four former Guantánamo prisoners to settle in the British island territory.

Parliament rejected the resolution in a 22-11 vote after 14 hours of debate, which went through the night.

Opposition lawmakers accused the premier, Ewart F. Brown, of “autocratic” behavior for agreeing in secret with United States authorities to accept the former prisoners, ethnic Uighurs originally from western China, without consulting political leaders in Bermuda or the British government.

Kim Swan, leader of the opposition United Bermuda Party, told fellow lawmakers that the resolution was aimed not at the government but at Mr. Brown, for causing an “international debacle.”

Mr. Brown said that he had accepted the Uighurs on humanitarian grounds, and that he believed that the move improved relations with the United States by helping to resolve a diplomatic headache.

American authorities had determined that the Uighurs were not terrorists and ordered their release, but they could not be sent back to China, where they might have faced persecution for their separatist beliefs. Other countries refused to accept them.

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