Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Guantanamo: America's Pacific Solution

For the past seven years, a group of 17 Uighurs have been imprisoned without trial in the US gulag at Guantanamo Bay despite repeated findings that they are innocent and a court order for their release. The US government has admitted that they are not "enemy combatants", but it cannot repatriate them to China for fear that they will be tortured, and it will not do the decent thing and make amends for its mistake by granting them refugee status in the US. So they've stayed in prison, while the US tries to find them a new home.

Now it has found one: Palau:

The Pacific nation of Palau says it has agreed to a US request to temporarily resettle up to 17 Chinese Muslims.


Palau President Johnson Toribiong said his government had "agreed to accommodate the United States of America's request to temporarily resettle in Palau up to 17 ethnic Uighur detainees ... subject to periodic review."

This is being spun as a humanitarian gesture - but the denials speak volumes:
[Toribiong] said the agreement was a "humanitarian gesture", which had nothing to do with the upcoming review of the Compact of Free Association under which the US gives large sums to Palau.
Nope, nothing to do with it at all - just as Nauru's agreement to host refugee claimants illegally rejected by Australia had nothing to do with aid money either.

What we are seeing here is the US using its aid program and its duties to a former colony as a weapon to bully them into accepting responsibility for its moral failings. It is simply an American version of the Pacific Solution.