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By E-mail                                                                    October 19, 2009





76 Tamils on Rusty Freighter ‘Ocean Lady’ seek Irregular Entry to Canada 


The rusty freighter ‘Ocean Lady’ sailing unannounced in Canadian waters off the BC coast with 76 Tamil men on board was apprehended by the RCMP on October 17, 2009 and taken to Vancouver for questioning.  The initial news carried on the ‘As It Happens’ program of the CBC this evening shows that they are part of a human smuggling operation involving large sums of money for passage to Canada.


CBC website of October 19th  reported that: “ Abraham Lauhenapessy, known as Captain Bram, was recently arrested aboard a boat carrying 255 Sri Lankan asylum seekers off the coast of western Java, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith confirmed Monday. Some of the Sri Lankans on that vessel told officials they knew about the ship with 76 other asylum seekers picked up by Canadian authorities off Vancouver Island on Saturday.  They said they had been offered places on that vessel, the Ocean Lady, but chose to try to reach Australia instead because at $15,000 US, it was much cheaper than the Canadian option, which cost $45,000 US. “ These Tamils had grabbed their bags of money to pay for their passage but had forgotten to bring any identification or travel documents. 

Other applicants from Sri Lanka who seek immigration to Canada through the normal channels find it extremely hard to raise the prescribed sum of $20,000.00 in addition to their airfares that they should bring to this country in the case of a family of four, even though they may have recognized academic and professional qualifications which allowed them to work in well paid positions in their home country, as the converted equivalent sum in Rupees exceeds 2 million. 

The Canadian Tamil Congress spokesperson David Poopalapillai who was interviewed by CBC came up with the usual harrangue of Tamils being extorted, forcibly abducted, raped, etc., making it impossible for Tamils to live in Sri Lanka, and through desperation they are fleeing the country, and using up all of their resources to raise the exhorbitant sums needed to pay the smuggler for the illegal boat trip.  Does it mean that these men are even prepared to abandon their women folk in a country where they are being subjected to rape, and successfully disposing of their assets in the island to raise the smugglers fee of $45,000 before running away without their identification papers and travel documents?  We would probably think that a world cruise on a luxury liner may cost less than this one way rusty freighter fare to Canada.


These illicit immigrants who were hoping to jump ship in BC are either members of the naval wing or Sea Tiger cadres who may have escaped in small boats or fishing craft to another Asian country, from where the Tamil Tiger International with billions of extorted funds and ill gotten loot would have charted the vessel for this journey with the intent of trying to embarrass Sri Lanka having earlier failed in their armed attempt to break up the country, subject to repayment in Canada with interest.  The other possibility, is that these are some of the Tamil Tiger cadres who slipped into the Sri Lankan government’s relief camps hiding amidst the displaced Tamil civilians who fled the LTTE’s human shield towards the latter part of the military action which was concluded on May 18, 2009, and managed to bribe their way out or had themselves smuggled out by INGO/NGO personnel operating within the camps.

Why is it that these desperate men who are afraid for their lives willing to spend their entire resources if in fact they had this kind of money, to pay for passage on a rusty cargo boat for this hazardous trip to travel thousands of miles to Australia or Canada, when they are certain to find refuge in the State of Tamil Nadu in Southern India, just 20 miles from Sri Lanka’s northwest coast, where nearly 65 million ethnically linked Tamils live?


Yours very truly,


Mahinda Gunasekera                                                                                                          Honourary President