Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Palau to Take in 17 Muslim Chinese -- currently being held at Guantanamo.

Palau, officially the Republic of Palau (PalauanBeluu er a Belau), is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, some 500 miles (800 km) east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles (3,200 km) south of Tokyo. Having emerged from United Nations trusteeship(administered by the United States) in 1994, it is one of the world's youngest and smallest nations. In English, the name is currently sometimes spelled phonetically in accordance with the native pronunciation Belau. It was formerly also spelled Pelew.Palau enjoys a tropical climate all year round with an annual mean temperature of 82 °F(27 °C). Rainfall can occur throughout the year, averaging a total of 150 inches (3,800 mm). The average humidity over the course of the year is 82%, and although rain falls more frequently between July and October, there is still much sunshine. Typhoons are rare, as Palau is outside the main typhoon zone.The population of Palau is approximately 21,000, of whom 70% are native Palauans, who are of mixed MelanesianMicronesian, and Malayandescent. Filipinos form the second largest ethnic group. Other Asians in South East Asia account for the minority groups.

The obscure Pacific nation of Palau, one of the world's youngest and tiniest countries, has agreed to take in the 17 Uighurs -- Muslim Chinese -- currently being held at Guantanamo.

President Johnson Toribiong announced in a statement to the Associated Press that Palau "agreed to accommodate the United States of America's request to temporarily resettle in Palau up to 17 ethnic Uighur detainees." He said their resettlement in Palau would be "subject to periodic review."

The announcement followed a visit to Palau by Ambassador Daniel Fried, the Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the Department of State who has been tasked with placing the remaining 240 detainees at Guantanamo.

The US government has pledged $200 million in aid to Palau, but a White House official denied that money, for development assistance, had anything to do with the Uighurs going to Palau.

Just a few days ago, the Obama administration asserted before the Supreme Court that the Uighurs have no right to come to America despite a district judge's orders last Fall that they immediately be brought to the U.S. and released.

Toribiong said Palau, located 500 miles east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles south of Tokyo, with a population of around 21,000, is "honored and proud" to resettle the detainees.

"Palau's accommodation to accept the temporary resettlement of these detainees is a humanitarian gesture intended to help them be freed of any further unnecessary incarceration and to restart their lives in as normal a fashion as possible," Toribiong said. The country consists of eight main islands and more than 250 islets.

Asked about the president's statement, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said, "As you know, we’re working closely with our friends and allies regarding the resettlement and repatriation of Guantanamo detainees. As a matter of policy, we’re not going to comment on our bilateral discussions with individual countries. It’s really up to the – our partners to characterize the level of their involvement."

Formerly part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Palau gained its independence on October 1, 1994. The U.S. is responsible for Palau's defense. The country is mostly Christian.

Three quarters of the population are Christians (mainly Roman Catholics and Protestants), while Modekngei (a combination of Christianity, traditional Palauan religion and fortune telling) and the ancient Palauan religion are commonly observed. According to the 2005 census[12]49.4% of the population are Roman Catholics, 21.3% Protestants, 8.7% Modekngei and 5.3% Seventh-day Adventists.

The official languages of Palau are Palauan and English, except for two states (Sonsorol and Hatohobei) where the local language, along with Palauan, is official. Japanese is also spoken widely amongst older Palauans, and, indeed, retains official status in the State of AngaurTagalogis not official in Palau, but it is the fourth largest spoken language.

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