United States Transfers Six Uighur Detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Palau
The Department of Justice today announced that six detainees who are Chinese nationals of Uighur ethnicity have been transferred from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the control of the Republic of Palau.
Ahmad Tourson, Abdul Ghappar Abdul Rahman, Edham Mamet, Anwar Hassan, Dawut Abdurehim and Adel Noori were resettled in Palau earlier today.
These detainees, who were subject to release from Guantanamo Bay as a result of court orders, had been cleared for release by the prior Administration, which determined that it would no longer treat them as enemy combatants. As directed by the President’s Jan. 22, 2009, Executive Order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force subsequently conducted a comprehensive review of each of the detainees. As a result of that review, these detainees were approved for transfer or release from Guantanamo Bay.
From David Johnston for the New York Times:
The Uighurs have been at the heart of a long-running legal, political and ethical debate about the detention center since their incarceration there more than seven years ago. The prison has become an international symbol of American excesses in the war against terrorism, and an increasingly frustrating problem for the White House.
The release of the men had been announced by the Justice Department, but the timing was kept a secret for security reasons until the detainees were safely in Palau, where they are expected to remain while seeking a permanent home elsewhere.
Wells Dixon, a lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights who represents three of the men, said, “Palau is courageous to offer our Uighur clients a temporary home. We are hopeful that other countries like Australia and Germany will resettle them permanently.”
[...] The Uighurs, from western China, were taken into custody in 2001 in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They have long been determined by American authorities to pose no security threat, but they are regarded as terrorists by the Chinese government and have said that they fear persecution if they are returned there.
On their living conditions, via BBC:
The men will live in a three-storey building which is a five-minute walk from Koror’s only mosque, one of two on the island.
The President of Palau, Johnson Toribiong, told the BBC that the Uighers would be given a temporary home for as long as two years.
“Initially, they will be attending a crash course in the English language and of our culture and history for a couple of months. We’ll interview them to find out about their skills, and then try to place them where they’ll be gainfully employed,” he said.