Six Uighurs formerly detained in America’s Guantanamo Bay have been resettled to the small Pacific nation of Palau upon the request of the US.
“They are happy to enjoy the beautiful environment of Palau,” Mampimin Ala, an Australian flown to Palau to act as a translator for the freed Uighurs, told Agence France Presse (AFP).
However, they arrive just as 200-300 Bangladeshi Muslims’ work visas expire, forcing them to face possible deportation. Any further immigration from the country was banned just last month.
Palau’s Muslim community of about 500 consists mostly of Bangladeshi migrant workers, and the shrinkage in that community could make the Uighurs’ transition hard.
“They need a community of Muslims,” Mujahid Hussain, the only Pakistani in Palau, said of the Uighurs.
“They need to sit together and pray together. So if they send home a lot of the Bangladeshis, that’s going to be a problem,” Hussain, 36, told The Associated Press on Monday.
Nonetheless, they will enjoy sea-views and a five-minute walk to one of Palau’s two mosques. Their lawyer Eric Tirschwell stated: “These men want nothing more than to live peaceful, productive lives in a free, democratic nation safe from oppression by the Chinese…thanks to Palau, which has graciously offered them a temporary home, they now have that chance. We hope that another country will soon step forward to provide them permanent sanctuary.”