Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gitmo's Uighurs Balk at Going to Palau

Refuge in Palau is not a done deal for Gitmo's Uighurs, it seems, and Bermuda might be having second thoughts about the four would-be entrepreneurs that it accepted last week, as well.

According to the Wall Street Journal today:

The Obama administration's drive to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has hit a new snag: At least some of the 13 detainees accepted for resettlement by the island nation of Palau don't want to go there.

Meanwhile, protests have erupted in Bermuda over its recent resettlement of four Uighur detainees, with the country's leader facing a no-confidence vote by his parliament. Dissent in the British island territory, which sits in the Atlantic Ocean east of North Carolina, came after Bermuda's acceptance of the men strained relations with London, which complained that the island's home-rule government failed to advise it about the decision.

Why would refugees be so choosy? Because it looks like if they go to Palau, they might have to stay there.

George Clarke, a Washington lawyer who represents two Uighurs cleared for release, said his clients "are both very interested in getting out of Guantanamo and they are very open to the idea of going to Palau." But other Uighurs aren't interested in transfer to the islands, he said. "There's a difference of opinion," he said.

Palau has no Muslim community, and the majority of residents are Roman Catholic. Mr. Clarke said his clients are particularly concerned about the legal status they would hold on Palau, and whether they could obtain documentation such as a passport.

"You cannot be a Palauan citizen unless you have Palauan blood. That's just the way their constitution is written," he said. Palau hasn't ratified the international refugee conventions that allow countries to issue travel documents to refugees.

Mr. Clarke said U.S. and Palau diplomats are looking into ways to address the concerns, and that the Palauns are expected to reply by early July.

I'm sure Palau is a nice spot for a vacation and all, but as a place for Turkic Muslim terrorists to stay indefinitely, well, just damn. Evidently Guantanamo's Camp Iguana looks pretty good to them by comparison.

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