7 Mar 2013

Uighur relocation chance from Palau seen as slim

2:36 pm on 7 March 2013

An anthropologist says overseas options to formally relocate a group of five former terror suspects still living in Palau remain slim.

Six men from China's largely Muslim region of Xinjiang were captured during the US-led war in Afghanistan and jailed in the Guantanamo Bay facility before being relocated to Palau in 2009.

The US had not wanted to send the men back to China, where they are still being described as suspected terrorists.

Professor Dru Gladney at Pomona College in California says there are large Uighur communities in Turkey, Europe, Central Asia, Melbourne and Toronto.

But he says many countries don't want to help.

"I think it has a lot to do with China's growing influence in the world. Fewer and fewer countries wish to deal with this very political hot potato and its very unfortunate for these men that have been caught up in global events, basically 9/11, and they are unfortunate victims in this."

Professor Dru Gladney says after one of the Uighurs managed to go to Turkey, the other five may eventually have to come up with their own exit strategies.