[JURIST] Palau President Johnson Toribiong told the Associated Press Thursday that his offer to accept [JURIST report] 17 Uighur detainees held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archives] was motivated by human rights concerns [AP report] and not by the Chinese government's reaction. The Palau government, which grants diplomatic recognition to Taiwan, not China, reportedly granted the US government's request to resettle the detainees for the sole reason that they believe their continued detention is unlawful. Also Thursday, the Chinese government again demanded the repatriation of the Uighurs. Foreign Ministry [official website, in Chinese] spokesperson Qin Gang said [press conference transcript, in Chinese]:
The Chinese side demands that the US fulfill the UN Security Council resolutions and obligations under international counter-terrorism, and stop the transfer of terrorist suspects to any third country, to repatriate them to China as soon as possible. China is also opposed to any third country accepting these terrorist suspects.
The Chinese maintain that the Uighurs are members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) [CFR backgrounder], a militant group that calls for separation from China and has been a US-designated terrorist group since 2002. The US has previously rejected China's calls to repatriate [JURIST report] the Uighurs, citing fear of torture upon their return.
The Uighurs' release was ordered [opinion and order, PDF; JURIST report] by a US district court in October, but that decision was overturned [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] in February by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website], and the Uighurs remain in custody. They have appealed [JURIST report] to the US Supreme Court [official website]. Last week, the Canadian government refused a US request to accept the Uighur detainees. In May, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives [official website] proposed a bill [JURIST report] that, if passed, might block a proposed plan to accept up to seven Uighur detainees [JURIST report] into the US after US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] announced in March that the US would consider accepting all 17 detainees [JURIST report].