Bermudians vented their fury at the speed at which new jobs were found for the Uyghurs this week after they were made redundant from their posts at Port Royal golf course.
With the effects of the recession biting and unemployment rates among locals increasing, charity was in short supply on blogs and talk shows.
The four men spent more than seven years imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay without being charged before being invited here as ‘guest workers’ by Premier Dr. Ewart Brown last year.
Their status is still unresolved, they cannot leave Bermuda and they are dependent on the Government to find them work.
Despite that, many Bermudians are furious that Dr. Brown and Immigration Minister Colonel David Burch helped them find another job.
“Unbelieveable!!! I hope all out of work Bermudians march for this!!! Totally unfair!” wrote Linda Hines on the Bermuda Sun’s Facebook page.
Another poster, Khali Shakir, added: “We’re doing ourselves proud for the attention of the world stage! Forget about being Bermudian and out of work! A great agenda item for Dr. Brown’s LEGACY!”
Dr. Brown would not comment on the backlash yesterday or say where the Uyghurs would be working.
He said in a statement on Wednesday: “We are pleased to announce that the Uyghurs have secured employment in the private sector.
“Since the employment is in the private sector we shall not release the name of the employer.”
The Uyghurs were unavailable for comment yesterday and it is unclear if they have been told where they will work.
Another poster on the Bermuda Sun’s website, Justin Smith, said Government priorities are wrong.
He wrote: “Guess you gotta be in with a politician or two to get employment in this market.
“To think I actually believed Dr. Brown when he stated that Bermuda and her people are his foremost priorities.
“Tell that to the Bermudians who have been made redundant during the crisis and haven’t been able to secure alternative employment since. There are a hell of a lot more than four I can tell you that!!”
Others had more sympathy.
Alex DeCouto, boss of Greymane Construction and the Bermuda Democratic Alliance’s spokesman on Labour and Immigration, told the Bermuda Sun: “You have to split the issue in half. Clearly this was a half-cocked decision by the Premier that has left these men in limbo. They are stateless and trapped here. While the humanitarian gesture is commendable, this really should have been thought through.
“On the flip side you have these poor souls who have been chewed up and spit out by the war on terror, landing on our shores.
“If not legally, they are in actuality refugees and need our help to survive. We can’t just tell them to camp out at the beach and beg.
“I would have given them a job if it were an easy decision but the market is very tight. I will certainly not be holding it against whomever did. I don’t believe any Bermudian should.
“I know that comes from someone who has a job but these men have been through the wringer and they deserve a break.”
The four Uyghurs fled political persecution in China and were living in Afghanistan when they were captured by Pakistani bounty hunters in 2002 after the U.S.-led assault on the Tora Bora mountains, an Al Quaeda stronghold.
They were initially believed to be terrorists and were transferred to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where they were kept for seven years without charge.
U.S. authorities quickly cleared them of any wrongdoing but could not repatriate them to China through fears they would be executed without trial by the Communist regime.
No country would offer them asylum because of fears of upsetting the Chinese — a major moneylender to many western Governments.
They were in limbo at Guantanamo until Dr. Brown’s deal with the U.S. brought them here.
The deal has provided an awkward solution with the four men unable to get national status in a British dependent territory.
Despite their harrowing history, many commentators yesterday said they felt the Uyghurs were very fortunate compared to out-of-work Bermudians, an estimated 1,600 people.
Others blamed the U.S., which refused the men asylum despite holding them in prison.
“The U.S. captured them, took them to a U.S. base then didn’t know what to do. It is a USA problem and the USA needs to solve it. Do the right thing USA,” said Robert Bryce on our website.