Did the lure of refugee status keep funding and support for Sri Lanka's war alive?

The smear campaign in full swing. Photo by Rudhach used here under a Creative Commons license.

Over the last few weeks the author of this blog has been corresponding via Email with a 39 year old Sri lankan Tamil male, now living in Canada. He, however, insisted that he remains anonymous for obvious reasons. I'll call him Kumar here.

Kumar told me that he came to Canada 15 years ago. Since the early 90s his asylum case in Canada is pending. In an email Kumar explained that without a war in Sri Lanka most refugee cases have a bleak future. He does not intend on returning to Sri Lanka, but will have no choice if the judge deems that it is now safe for him to do so.

A lot is at stake. 15 years of living in Canada has brought a degree of peace and comfort. Sri Lanka is after all a third world country. Kumar has also invested money into businesses and other ventures. How does he give it all up?

Thavarani Nagulendran, of the Tamil Community Centre (TCC) in Hounslow in west London, says the UK authorities deported at least 12 Sri Lankans, most of them Tamils, in July.

"I am aware of at least another 50 Tamils in the UK facing deportation. They are in hiding and do not want to speak to the media for fear of deportation," she told BBC Sinhala.

The TCC provides language and legal support, counselling and other services to Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers.

"Every day, the UK authorities are sending Tamil asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka. The Home Office is telling these people that they can go back to Sri Lanka as there are no more troubles there," says Ms Nagulendran [Tamil].

Sivagnanam Baheerathan, who came to the UK in 2001, says he is still being urged by the authorities to go back to Sri Lanka.
The end of war in Sri Lanka is saddening news to those who depended on war and human rights abuses to gain citizenship in a developed nation. It is perhaps the reason that thousands turned up to protest in order to force the Sri lankan government to stop it's offensive against the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). They said they wanted peace.

But not all turned up for protests voluntarily.

Shan from the UK was kind enough to inform me that his friends and family had forced the 19 year old to be a part of protests in London.

In the April 29, 1996 edition of Maclean's, in an article titled 'Smuggling people lucrative', it is reported that in "Toronto alone, the RCMP has identified 50 major traffickers, each of whom is importing 100 clients annually."


The vast majority of migrants who are smuggled to Canada are counselled by smugglers to make phoney refugee claims, often under false names.

A tip sheet found in 1990 in the luggage of a Tamil, possibly a client of Thavam's, is typical. "You must tell them lies in such a way that [the Canadian immigration officer] must be able to believe you," it says. It advises clients to claim that their house was destroyed, and that they were arrested by the army and beaten.

"Just give them some date," the paper concludes. "When the officer asks you this, tell them as if you are telling them a real sad story which has happened."

For years the world was fed stories of horrific abuses apparently perpetrated by a Sinhalese Army. Could it be that the recently released execution video has similar motives?

The BBC article quoted above, which claimed that several Tamil refugee claims have been denied, and that applicants were being deported, was published on Saturday, 5 September 2009. Less than a week ago, a new video surfaced of an alleged execution. There are those who want us to believe that the execution was of Tamils carried out by the Sri Lankan armed forces.

The motives behind a Sri Lankan smear campaign should be clear. Now you know what is at stake for those who are trying to portray total doom for Tamils in Sri Lanka, without the Tigers.

If you missed it I urge you to view the video below. Maya Bastian is a Canadian Tamil of Sri Lankan descent. She visited Sri Lanka to find out if Tamils were indeed being persecuted. The second video is the views of yet another Tamil Sri Lankan now living in Canada.

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