15 June 2009

Reprieve hails the courage and compassion of ‘heroic’ Premier Ewart Brown of Bermuda on resettlement of Guantánamo Uighurs; asks that the UK follow suit or refrain from undermining his efforts

Reprieve hails the courage and compassion of ‘heroic’ Premier Ewart Brown of Bermuda on resettlement of Guantánamo Uighurs; asks that the UK follow suit or refrain from undermining his efforts.

Reprieve, the UK charity whose lawyers represent three Uighur prisoners in Guantánamo, today praised the compassion shown to the Uighurs last week by the island nation of Bermuda.

Even the Bush Administration admitted that the Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim minority from far Western China, were never "enemy combatants". Yet they have languished in Guantánamo for years because they could not safely return to China -- and no country offered them refuge, fearing repercussions from the Chinese.

Last Thursday, Bermuda showed great courage by offering four Uighur prisoners a home.

"Premier Brown took a lot of heat for his humanitarian deed -- both from the Bermudan opposition and even here in the UK. This is a shame. Premier Brown is no less than a hero,” said Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve.

“Rather than tutting at its old colonial holding, Britain should be leading the way for the refugees in Guantánamo. It would be far more productive to take back British residents Ahmed Belbacha or Shaker Aamer than grousing against these innocent men.

“But if the UK can't lead or follow, it should at least get out of the way.”

Reprieve calls on the British government to ratify Bermuda's decision immediately and to ensure the four innocent men will be given passports.

Reprieve further asks the British government to offer Premier Brown its full and unqualified support should such support be required to stabilise his position. It is shameful that Britain should help undermine such courageous leadership.

"Anyone questioning the Premier's decision needs to view the photos of the Uighurs swimming in the sea, catching their first fish, grinning ear to ear," said Cori Crider, Staff Attorney at Reprieve.

"We hope the Bermudan people will embrace Brown's hospitality, as many of them have embraced the Uighurs themselves."

For more information please contact Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office katherine.oshea@reprieve.org.uk 020 7427 1099.

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

PO Box 52742
London EC4P 4WS
Tel: 020 7353 4640
Fax: 020 7353 4641
Email: info@reprieve.org.uk
Website: www.reprieve.org.uk

Reprieve is a charitable company limited by guarantee; Registered Charity No. 1114900 Registered Company No. 5777831 (England) Registered Office 2-6 Cannon Street London EC4M 6YH; Chair: Lord Bingham; Patrons: Alan Bennett, Julie Christie, Martha Lane Fox, Gordon Roddick, Jon Snow, Marina Warner


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