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Monday, June 22, 2009

Uighurs in Limbo: No Palau

Several Guantánamo detainees from western China are uninterested in moving to Palau, the country that agreed to resettle them after their upcoming release, because it is located too close to their homeland, the top Palauan presidential spokesman said today.

The Uighurs from China's far western region of Xinjiang, are considered separatists by Chinese authorities. The US refused to send them back to China because of concerns the men would be immediately arrested.

Palau consented to President Barack Obama's request to take the Turkic Muslims as part of plans to close the Guantánamo Bay detention centre in Cuba. The men were captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2001, and the Pentagon determined last year that they were not "enemy combatants" but the men have been stuck in legal limbo since.

Only one Uighur expressed high interest in Palau, Tmetuchl said. He was so excited that he ignored the call to prayer during his interview with Palauan officials and instead wanted to know more about the country.

"If we had said 'Let's go', he would've jumped on the plane," he said. "It sounds like he just wanted out [of Guantánamo Bay]. And if out meant Palau, that's what he wanted."

link: Several Uighur detainees object to Palau resettlement | World news |


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