06.16.09

Statement Of Thanks To Bermuda

Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, last Thursday Bermuda welcomed to freedom four men who had been wrongly detained at Guantanamo Bay for more than 7 years. The men are ethnic Uighurs--a minority group from western China that has long suffered discrimination and oppression by China's Government. Their release is welcome news--our own Federal courts had cleared them for release, as did both the Bush and Obama administrations. Bermudian Prime Minister Dr. Ewart Brown and the Bermudian people have done a humanitarian service, and should be praised for it.

I strongly support President Obama's decision to close Guantanamo, which became a rallying cry for al-Qaida and other terrorist groups seeking recruits. I am disappointed that the United States did not find a way to resettle the Uighurs here, as there are Uighur communities in several States that would have welcomed them and helped them become productive members of society. It would also have been an important gesture to other countries that we are asking to accept Guantanamo detainees. All the more reason that we should offer our sincere thanks to Bermuda for helping to put this sorry episode behind us.

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