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Canadian asylum seekers from SL

October 26, 2009

CTV News: Men aboard migrant ship may get hearing today, 20 October 2009

Dozens of men found aboard a rusty vessel that arrived off the coast of Vancouver Island may soon know if they can apply for refugee status.

Detention hearings are expected to begin as early as today for the 76 men, who are being held in a Vancouver jail.

It is believed the men found aboard the “Ocean Lady” are from Sri Lanka, though officials have not identified the passengers or the reason for their journey. More

CTC: Canadian Tamil Congress Statement, 20 October 2009

As we sit here today, much of the details about these 76 men remain unknown. But there are two things that are clear. One is that these individuals risked their

lives to travel thousands of miles on a rusty old boat to seek refuge in Canada. The second is that these men come from a country where persecution of the Tamil minority remains commonplace despite the end of the 26-year-old civil war.

To give you an idea of the kind of persecution Tamils face in Sri Lanka, keep in mind that more than a quarter of a million citizens are currently being held against their will in about 40 internment camps in the country. They are all Tamil and they are being held in violation of international law. Tens of thousands of these civilian detainees are children. Their reality is overcrowding, poor sanitation and severe restrictions on their freedom of movement. Despite calls from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to free them, and the threat of monsoon rains and flooding, the Sri Lankan government continues to hold these Tamil civilians in essentially open-air prisons. This is the Sri Lanka that these men were forced to flee from, one which continues to persecute Tamils. More

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