Shawn Crockwell, a member of Bermuda's parliament and shadow minister for immigration, says that the decision to accept four Uighur detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has "created a national crisis for the island of Bermuda."
"People are outraged in this country," says Crockwell. "I've never seen the people in this country get so exercised so quickly over an issue."
Crockwell tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that Bermudians are very concerned about the potential threat the Uighurs pose to the security and economy of Bermuda, and are outraged by the secretive and unilateral manner in which Bermuda premier Dr. Ewart Brown decided to accept the detainees.
"There's a great deal of anxiety right now," says Crockwell. "We have not received any information at all in terms of who these individuals are."
"We hear reports that they have been associated with al Qaeda ... that they were trained in terrorist camps," as well as reports that the men are innocent. "So we don't know" how much a security risk the former detainees pose. Crockwell says that the Bermudian people and members of parliament don't know where the Uighurs are now being housed by the government.
"We think the premier, who made a unilateral decision, has put this country at risk. We believe that when there's uncertainty we have to err on the side of caution," Crockwell adds. Crockwell's United Bermuda Party has already moved a motion of no confidence against Brown to remove him as the leader of parliament. He says that a "member of the backbench has stated not even the cabinet was informed of this decision," which Crockwell described as a "unilateral autocratic decision made by one man who has created a national crisis for the island of Bermuda."
"Now you have people in the international world associating Bermuda with terrorists," says Crockwell. He is concerned that this association will have "a deleterious effect on our tourism and how we market this jurisdiction." Crockwell says he doesn't know how much the U.S. government paid to relocate the Uighurs to Bermuda. "Off the cuff," he says, it appears that the "people of Bermuda would have to bear the full costs" of whatever detainee-related hit the economy takes.
Bermuda's constitution provides that the UK government is responsible for foreign policy, and, according to Crockwell, the UK government is now trying to determine "whether they will acquiesce to this risky and dangerous decision or whether [the Uighurs] will be sent back."