Bill C-49 to determine ‘Irregular Arrivals’ and Penalize Human Smugglers Is a Step in the Right Direction which brings Long Overdue Legal Measures
Posted on October 30th, 2010

MEDIA RELEASE-SRI LANKA UNITED NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CANADA

We welcome the new laws proposed by the Conservative Government to deal with the violation of our immigration and refugee laws by organized gangs of “ƒ”¹…”for-profit human smugglers’ who have chosen to smuggle people to this country with impunity. We had the examples of the “ƒ”¹…”Ocean Lady’ which tramped into the BC waters with 76 men with questionable backgrounds having links to the brutal Tamil Tiger terrorist network, and the more recent arrival of a mixed bag of 492 persons aboard the cargo vessel “ƒ”¹…”MV Sun Sea’ which reached the shores of Vancouver on August 13, 2010. We now have reports of more such human smuggling voyages being orchestrated by the same Tamil Tiger terror network out of Thailand, which have been temporarily put on hold due to the prompt action of the Thai authorities to detain yet other Tamils lacking papers who were gathering to board a cargo ship headed for Canada. The prospective refugee seekers are known to destroy their ID papers and pay or promise to pay $45,000 for the passage.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there were 43.3 million people who were forcibly displaced at the end of 2009, amongst whom are 27.1 million deemed as internally displaced persons. The report also indicated that nearly 5.5 million people in the care of the UNHCR are in protracted situations who are unable to return to their home country or find asylum in a country willing to admit them. “At the end of 2009, 112,400 refugees were admitted for resettlement by 19 countries, including the United States (79,900), Canada (12,500) and Australia (11,100).” In the light of these UN statistics, the crime of human smuggling and acceptance of these “ƒ”¹…”illegal arrivals’ without question is not only illogical but unfair by the millions who are stagnating in poorly facilitated camps awaiting their selection for assylum in third countries.

In Sri Lanka’s case, the Tamil civilians residing in the Vanni region that was illegally controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers, were forced to withdraw from their villages and move with the retreating Tamil Tiger forces whose military offensives aimed at establishing a mono-ethnic, racist Tamil separate state called “Eelam” turned sour in 2006, thereby becoming internally displaced and being used as a human shield by the depleted LTTE military apparatus. Sri Lankan forces designated “ƒ”¹…”no-fire zones’ for the safety of these civilians, declared several ceasefires to enable them to move out of the battle grounds only to be stopped by the Tamil Tigers who turned their guns on the fleeing civilians. The Sri Lankan forces succeeded in rescuing 294,000 IDPs and a further 11,000 former Tiger cadres who surrendered on the conclusion of military action against the terrorists by May 18, 2009.

The Tamil IDPs were temporarily housed in welfare camps set up by the Sri Lankan authorities where they were provided with three meals daily, health, education, vocational training, banking and communication facilities till such time as the 1.5 million landmines buried over 450 square kilometers by the Tamil Tigers were demined, homes repaired or rebuilt and infrastructure put in place prior to their re-settlement in their former villages with the assistance of the UNHCR and leading INGO/NGO groups. Sri Lanka has already re-settled over 275,000 IDPs and returned almost 5,000 of the former Tiger cadres who have been rehabilitated to their parental homes along with cash allowances, seed paddy, state guaranteed loans up to Rs.200.000.00 plus livelihood programs to ensure the quick return to normalcy. Even those Tamils who had sought refuge in South India too are returning to the island as the LTTE’s military capabilities have been totally neutralized and there is no fear of their children being abducted and conscripted as Kalashnikov carrying storm troopers or suicide bombers for their separatist cause.

The special measures envisaged in Bill C-49 are essential to deal with “ƒ”¹…”irregular arrivals’ and the criminal organizations that take advantage of persons seeking illegal entry when they have no grounds to seek refuge especially in the case of Sri Lankan Tamils, as the UNHCR considers Sri Lanka to be safe following the end of the war and defeat of the Tamil Tigers. There is no reason for Sri Lankan Tamils to risk their lives on dilapidated cargo boats at the exorbitant fee of $45,000 to seek refuge in Canada halfway across the world, when they could do so by undertaking the 20 mile sea crossing from Sri Lanka to ethnically, linguistically and culturally linked Tamilnadu, in South India, which is home to 60 million Tamils.

The law should be extended to deter even those Canadian residents, citizens or other organizations that knowingly encourage members of their family, community or other groups to seek illegal entry into Canada, which not only endangers lives, creates concerns of security and adds unnecessary costs to the overburdened taxpayer who by and large prefer to extend their compassion to those persons who have been stagnating in the pipeline and waiting to enter this country via legitimate channels.

Yours sincerely,

Mahinda Gunasekera

Honorary President
SRI LANKA UNITED NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CANADA
Box 55292, 300 Borough Drive, Toronto, Ontario M1P 4Z7 Canada
Website: www.sluna.org E-mail: sluna@idirect.com

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