I figured something must be up in Vancouver when I saw all the hits to old posts I’ve written about Tamils arriving by ship in Canada, so I checked and sure enough, here we go again.
The big question of course is, are they really asylum seekers or Tamil Tigers trying to reestablish themselves in the West after being defeated in a civil war in Sri Lanka?
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – At sea for three crowded and grueling months, hundreds of Tamil asylum seekers from war-ravaged Sri Lanka sought refuge in Canada on Friday when their rusty, ramshackle cargo ship finally edged just after sunrise into the shelter of a naval port.
Some passengers stood on the deck, shaded by striped lengths of cloth, after the MV Sun Sea pulled in. Paramedics wearing surgical masks tended to them. A few were taken away on stretchers and whisked into ambulances at dockside; all were shielded from view by black umbrellas.
“This is a new beginning,” said Canadian Tamil Congress spokesman Gary Anandasangare, who watched the freighter slide into port.
The arrival of the 490 refugees, however, raised concerns among Canadian officials that the rebel Tamil Tigers, which fought and lost a bloody 25-year war for independence that ended in May 2009, was smuggling people into Canada, home to the largest Tamil community outside Sri Lanka and India.
“Our goal is to ensure that our refugee system is not hijacked by criminals or terrorists,” said Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, whose government labeled the Tamil Tigers a terrorist group in 2006.
Last October, a ship carrying 76 Sri Lankan migrants was intercepted in Canadian waters. All are free while their cases are being processed.
Chitranganee Wagiswara, Sri Lanka’s high commissioner to Canada, said now that the civil war is over, the Tigers might be trying to regroup in Canada, a country that has historically been a large source of their fundraising.
Wagiswara said Canada should not accept the Tamils’ claims for refugee status and said the ship is part of a Tiger-linked human smuggling operation. She said the ship’s captain, a man named “Vinod,” is a known Tiger and smuggled arms for the group.
“Everyone knows that Canadian refugee and immigration laws are not strong enough. These people are trying to abuse the system,” she said.
Search RRW for all of our previous discussions about Tamils, search “Tamil” or “Tamil Tiger.” One of the most outrageous stories I’ve written about involves the US taking Australia’s illegal alien Tamil “bachelors” and resettling them as refugees in Oakland, CA, here.