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Ughyurs settling into island life
Byline info is not available
Friday, October 9, 2009 10:33 AM
Plain sailing: Khalil Manut, Ablikim Turahu, Sabin Willett, Abdulla Abdulqadir and Salahidin Abdulahat take a trip on the Ana Luna.
The four freed Guantanamo Bay prisoners say they already feel like Bermudians after four months here.
The novelty of life on this tiny mid-Atlantic island has not worn off for the men, who say they want to stay for life.
Khalil Manut, one of the four, said they had found peace in Bermuda and were finally putting the past behind them.
He said they were enjoying working at Port Royal Golf course, playing football with X-Roads and swimming and fishing in their spare time.
Last week they went sailing with their lawyer after being invited on a boat trip by Nathan Worswick, skipper of the catamaran Ana Luna.
It was their first taste of Bermuda's ocean life. But they say Mr Worswick's generosity is typical of the warm welcome they continue to receive on the streets.
And they say they have no intention of trying to move to America - even if the Supreme Court establishes the right for them to do so (see story below).
"For me, even if I have the ability to go there, I don't want to do it.
"I want to stay here. My brothers feel the same way. We want to live in peace. That is what we have here in Bermuda. People are very peaceful, very friendly, everywhere I go people recognize us and say, 'You are welcome, don't worry you can stay here'."
He said they were hopeful that their friends who remain in Guantanamo would be similarly fortunate and find new homes - either in Palau, which has agreed to take some of them, or in America.
But they insist they are only interested in living in Bermuda and do not want to move again.
Abdullah Abdulqadir added: "We feel like Bermudians now - we have ID cards. People have made us welcome. America is bigger geographically. Bermuda is a small place but Bermuda has a big heart."
Living in sparse but comfortable accommodation (we have been asked not to disclose the exact location) the Uyghurs are already showing signs of adapting to western culture.
A bunch of DVDs, including Rush Hour 2, lie on the table alongside an English dictionary and a box of wafers.
They are travelling around the island on rental scooters and this week started English lessons in the evenings.
Mr Manut said they were working hard at Port Royal in preparation for the PGA Grand Slam and did not have too much spare time on their hands.
When they have more leisure time, he says, he would like to try sailing again.
Mr. Manut said he tried not to think of the past.
"We have started a new life. What is done can't be undone. What happened, happened. The past, I don't like to mention.
"When we left Gitmo we left everything behind. There are a lot of things that, if I mention it, it makes me sad. I don't want to mention those suffering days.
"Praise be to Allah, we are in Bermuda now."
Despite the warm welcome they have received in person, the Uyghurs continue to be the subject of 'scare stories'. One report this week suggested their presence here could effect trade with China if they turned out to be terrorists, despite the fact that they have already been cleared of those charges.
A delegation of Chinese business people, visiting the island in June, told the Bermuda Sun the Uyghur situation had no impact on their dealings with the
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