Palau President Confirms All Uighurs Have Left Country

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Remengesau: Final former Guantanamo detainee departed in March

By Peter Erick L. Magbanua

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, July 9, 2015) – President Tommy Remengesau Jr. on July 7 stated that the last of the Uighurs has already left Palau.

Remengesau made this announcement during his press conference held at his office in Meyuns. He added that the last of the Uighurs, who were temporarily relocated to the island back in 2009, left on March 15. The President did not mention the name of the last Uighurs and did not also disclose the destination for security reasons.

"The Uighurs left at their own free will. From the very start, the agreement to relocate them here was not meant for a permanent one but out of humanitarian request," Remengesau added.

The President’s announcement was confirmed by Rhinehart Silas, who was appointed by Remengesau as caretaker of the Uighurs.

In May 2009, the United States Government approached then Johnson Toribiong, then serving as President of Palau, about the possibility of resettling in Palau certain detainees confined at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility in Cuba.

The detainees were members of the Uighur ethnic group who had been found not guilty of any act of terrorism by a US federal court, but were considered criminals and terrorists by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Following a series of high-level and confidential negotiations, Toribiong, on behalf of the Republic, agreed to resettle the Uighurs in Palau.

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