Tuesday 9.30pm SBS ONE
Wednesday 2.00pm SBS ONE (repeat)

Uighurs in Paradise

After eight years locked up in the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, six Uighur men have arrived in the remote Pacific nation of Palau.

The men escaped the Chinese ruled Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region only to be snared in the post 9/11 round up of foreigners in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Despite being officially cleared of terrorism charges by the US, they have been stuck in legal limbo as numerous countries including Australia refused US requests to resettle  them, a move many believe may be related to fears of jeopardising relations with China.

After much diplomatic wrangling, President of Palau Johnson Toribiong agreed to temporarily resettle the former detainees and has warmly welcomed them to his Pacific paradise - despite China's strong disapproval. 

The lawyer for two of the men, George Clarke, says of Australia's refusal to resettle the Uighurs, despite previous requests from the US, that "... I hope it is not to appease the Chinese that the decision was made..."

David O'Shea finds the Uighurs are very relieved to be in Palau, but after years of incarceration are struggling to come to terms with their new found freedom.

On air: 15th November 2009


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