KOROR, Palau — Six Chinese Muslims who had been detained at Guantanamo Bay arrived Sunday in the tiny Pacific nation of Palau for resettlement, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
The men arrived in Palau early Sunday, the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, told The Associated Press.
U.S.-based lawyers for three of the released men confirmed the transfer of the six former detainees, saying they “arrived to freedom” in Palau.
“These men want nothing more than to live peaceful, productive lives in a free, democratic nation safe from oppression by the Chinese,” said Eric Tirschwell of Kramer Levin Naftalis&Frankel law firm.
“Thanks to Palau, which has graciously offered them a temporary home, they now have that chance.”
Palau has a Muslim population of about 500, mostly migrant workers from Bangladesh.
Uighurs are from Xinjiang, an isolated region of China that borders Afghanistan, Pakistan and six Central Asian nations.
They are Turkic-speaking Muslims who say they have long been repressed by the Chinese government. They fear they would be arrested, tortured or executed if sent back to China.
China has said that insurgents are leading an Islamic separatist movement in Xinjiang and wants them returned.
Four Uighur detainees were resettled in Bermuda this year. In addition to the six just arrived, Palau has offered to take six of the seven others still held at Guantanamo.
Made up of eight main islands plus more than 250 islets, Palau is best known for diving and tourism and is located some 500 miles (800 kilometres) east of the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean.