The Guantanamo beat and News of the Weird collided last week when it was announced that the likely destination of 13 soon to be released Uighur “non-terrorists”/”possible nationalist separatists”/”guys we mistakenly imprisoned for seven years” is the island nation of Palau. This move, of course, has nothing to do with any upcoming U.S. aid package to Palau, a small cluster of islands administered by the U.S. until 1994.
While the opinions of China (‘hey, let us get a crack at ’em’), the Palau tourist industry (‘shit.’) and the U.S. (‘anywhere but a swing state’) were duly recorded by journalists, absent from any of the news reports was mention of how the Uighur ex-suspecteds (let’s start calling them ‘mistainees’) felt about moving to a tropical paradise.
Carnival Cruise ads aside, it is not the dream of every human to sweat glamourously near a vast blue ocean. Xinjiang, the region that the Uighur people come from, is more of a mountains, snow, camels and roasted meat on a stick kind of place. For context, the Toronto Star reports: “Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most remote city from any sea in the world.”
Palau sounds like kind of a tough sell to that crowd. Factor in that the type of guys who head down to Taliban-run Tora Bora to learn how to shoot an AK just might like their Islam flavored conservative, the bikini beaches and being nearly only Muslims for hundreds of miles around might not be considered pluses.
This is all speculation of course. A decent barometer would be to check in with Uighur ex-detainees in Albania, Sweden and Bermuda but reports seem decidedly mised, depending on who’s telling the story. Foreign Affairs reports that they will be at least hooked up with some time in Palau’s fine community colleges. I smell a wacky fish-out-of-water college movie brewing.
And then there’s this clip, which I will take advantage of the flimsiest reason to post: