Cablegate: Corrected Copy - Kiribati: Resettlement of Uighur Detainees
O R 112213Z DEC 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY SUVA IMMEDIATE
INFO AMEMBASSY BEIJING
S E C R E T STATE 130444
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/11/2018
TAGS: PTER PREL PHUM PINS TN KR AS NZ CH
SUBJECT: CORRECTED COPY - KIRIBATI: RESETTLEMENT OF UIGHUR DETAINEES
REF:A) STATE 101742 (SEPTEMBER 2008)
B) SUVA 372 (SEPTEMBER 2008)
C) SUVA 453 (DECEMBER 2008)
Classified by Acting EAP A/S Glyn Davies for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).
1. (S) In November 2008, pursuant to instructions from the
Department, Post initiated discussions with the Government of
Kiribati (GoK) regarding the possible resettlement in Kiribati of up
to 17 Uighur detainees from Guantanamo Bay (GTMO). GoK President
Tong indicated a willingness to discuss the matter further. In
December, the Department of Defense (DoD) completed an assessment of
projects that could be provided to the GoK as part of an arrangement
to resettle the Uighurs in Kiribati. The USG now seeks to finalize a
resettlement framework with the GoK. Department accordingly requests
that Post discuss with GoK officials at the highest appropriate level
to review in detail the necessary assurances set forth in the
diplomatic note at paragraph ten and obtain written confirmation from
such officials that the GoK concurs in the understandings set forth
in the note. End summary.
2. (C) The Department asks that Post pursue the following objectives:
-- Commence discussions immediately with GoK officials at the highest
appropriate level to conclude an arrangement for the resettlement in
Kiribati of the 17 Uighurs currently detained at GTMO.
-- Explain in detail the humane treatment assurances that the GoK is
requested to provide to the USG before we can release the Uighur
detainees to Kiribati for resettlement.
-- Explain that the USG recognizes the financial and political costs
of this undertaking and that, if the Uighurs can be successfully
resettled, the USG (1) will provide up to $1.5 million dollars to
offset the costs of resettlement, and (2) will provide up to $3
million dollars in projects for Kiribati (note: some projects may
take a number of years to complete) (see para 5).
-- Propose that once the resettlement framework is agreed upon, the
USG will work closely with the GoK to identify and address key
resettlement issues such as legal status, education, employment,
housing, family relocation, language, religion, security
implications, costs, and the DoD proposed projects.
-- Deliver the diplomatic note provided in paragraph ten and obtain
written confirmation that the GoK concurs in the understandings set
forth in the diplomatic note. The text of a proposed reply note that
could be used for such confirmation is also provided at paragraph
3. (U) Post should report the result of efforts by cable to S/WCI
Ambassador Clint Williamson and EAP/ANP Deputy Director Steve
Schwartz by December 12, 2008.
4. (S) In response to the Department's request to identify potential
resettlement options for the 17 GTMO Uighurs, Post suggested that
Kiribati might be willing to consider a proposal that included an
adequate incentive package (See Reftels A and B). In November 2008,
pursuant to instructions from the Department, Post initiated
discussions with President Tong regarding possible Uighur
resettlement. President Tong indicated that he was willing to
discuss the matter further (See reftel C).
5. (C) In preparation for further discussions, DoD sent a PACOM team
to Kiribati that identified incentives that DoD could provide as part
of the resettlement proposal. DoD is willing to fund any combination
of the following projects up to a total cost of $3 million dollars:
-- Causeway Culverts: The lagoon side of Tarawa is prime fishing and
swimming grounds, but is increasingly becoming septic due to poor
drainage into the Pacific. Construction of causeway culverts would
facilitate the flow of water from the lagoon into the Pacific, hence
cleansing the lagoon. The estimated cost is $1 million spread over a
five year construction timeline of $200,000 per year.
-- Desalinization Kits: These kits require little to no maintenance
and would allow for rapid expansion of potable water throughout
Kiribati. The estimated cost for 1,250 of these kits is $500,000
($400 per kit).
-- Solar Lighting Stations: These are low tech, minimal maintenance
stations, dramatically expanding the utility of community centers and
athletic fields. The estimated cost for 1,500 stands is $750,000
($500 per stand).
-- New Community Centers: Locally constructed facilities deteriorate
after a few years. PACOM construction would use cement floors and 15
year roofs, significantly expanding the lifespan of the unit for the
community. The estimated cost to build approximately 4-5 centers is
-- A housing unit for the Uighurs.
6. (SBU) The USG wants resettlement of the Uighurs in Kiribati to be
as successful as possible. In order to ensure that resettlement
issues are identified and addressed, the USG will work closely with
GoK officials on key resettlement issues such as legal status,
education, employment, housing, family relocation, language, and
7. (SBU) Litigation of the Uighur cases continues in the federal
courts. The District Court Judge's October 7th order to release the
17 Uighur detainees into the United States has been stayed pending
appeal. The appellate court heard argument regarding the district
court's authority to order release into the United States on November
24th. It is unclear when the appeals court might issue its decision.
If the Uighurs are not transferred from GTMO, DoJ advises that the
case will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court and there is a
significant chance the Court would hear the case.
8. (SBU) Any effort to transfer the Uighurs in the interim,
including resettlement in Kiribati, will require that advance
notification be given to the Uighurs' lawyers. The USG has
challenged this notice requirement on appeal in the federal appeals
court, but a decision has not yet issued. Upon receiving notice, the
Uighurs' attorneys will have an opportunity to seek an injunction in
the District Court blocking the transfer. Although it is unclear
what the District Court Judge would do if faced with a motion to
enjoin transfer in the Uighur case, it is possible that the transfer
could be enjoined, at least temporarily.
9. (S) The Governments of Australia (GoA)and New Zealand (GoNZ) are
aware of our approach to Kiribati. The GoA is still considering a
USG request to resettle the Uighurs (Note: Department believes that
the GoA is contemplating the acceptance of only a few of the 17
Uighurs). While considering this request, the GoA sent a list of 20
questions regarding the Uighur detainees. DoD drafted a response to
those questions that noted security risks associated with Uighur
detainees that were in Afghanistan in September 2001, which included
the 17 GTMO Uighur detainees. In order to be fully transparent with
the GoK, we should be prepared to present the DoD responses to them.
In any event, the GoA is likely to share the information with the
GoK. The Department will convey the DoD responses to the 20
questions by separate e-mail.
10. (SBU) TEXT OF EMBASSY'S DIPLOMATIC NOTE
The Embassy of the United States of America presents its compliments
to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Kiribati and
has the honor to refer to discussions between the Governments of the
United States of America and Kiribati held in Tarawa, Kiribati in
November 2008, regarding seventeen ethnic Uighur detainees under the
control of the U.S. Department of Defense.
As a result of these consultations, the United States and Kiribati
have reached certain understandings, set forth below, that when
confirmed by a diplomatic note from the Government of Kiribati will
establish the basis for the Government of the United States to begin
the process of releasing Uighur detainees who are held by the
Department of Defense from the control of the Government of the
United States to Kiribati for resettlement. The timing and
modalities of any such release, including a point of contact in
Kiribati to facilitate coordination of any release, and the person or
persons to be released, as well as resolution of key resettlement
issues, will be established through further consultations between the
two Governments. Any person released by the Government of the United
States to Kiribati pursuant to these understandings is referred to in
this note as "a released person."
The Government of the United States requests written confirmation of
the following understandings:
A. The Government of Kiribati is to resettle a released person after
the release has been completed. The Government of Kiribati is to
treat a released person humanely and in accordance with the laws and
international obligations of Kiribati, which include the UN
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment.
B. The Government of Kiribati will not subsequently transfer a
released person to the custody and control of the Government of the
People's Republic of China.
If the Government of Kiribati shares these understandings, the
Embassy proposes that this note, together with the Ministry's reply
to that effect, constitute a shared understanding reached between the
The Embassy of the United States of America avails itself of this
opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the
Government of Kiribati the assurances of its highest consideration.
11. (SBU) TEXT OF PROPOSED GOK REPLY DIPLOMATIC NOTE:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Kiribati
presents its compliments to the Embassy of the United States of
America in Suva, Fiji and has the honor to acknowledge receipt of the
Embassy's note dated [insert date] relating to the release and
resettlement in Kiribati of up to seventeen persons of Uighur
ethnicity who are currently in the custody of the Government of the
United States at the U.S. Naval facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The Ministry confirms that the Government of Kiribati concurs in all
the understandings set forth in the Embassy's note.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kiribati avails itself of this
opportunity to renew to the Embassy of the United States of America
the assurances of its highest consideration.
POINT OF CONTACT
12. (U) Please contact Anthony (Tony) P. Ricci at (202) 647-5543 or
via e-mail for any additional background information or augmentation
necessary to meet our objectives.