Friday, August 13, 2010

Canada Jails Tamil Refugees

By No One is Illegal Vancouver

Friday August 13, 2010, Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories– No One Is Illegal dropped a large banner which read: “Canada Jails Refugees” above Highway 1 in Vancouver/Burnaby this morning during rush-hour traffic. The banner drop was in response to the ongoing stigmatization and public hysteria around the MV Sun Sea, carrying 490 Tamil asylum seekers to BC. Now that the ship has been boarded by the Navy, Armed Forces, Canadian Border Services Agency, and RCMP, it is expected that these migrants will be incarcerated in prisons within the week.

Canada’s immigration legislation permits immigration officials to hold the Tamil refugee claimants in a state of indefinite detention without charge based only on a mere suspicion of inadmissibility on so-called security grounds. This form of arbitrary and indefinite immigration detention has previously been condemned internationally as a breach of fundamental human rights.

Public officials and media outlets have continued to perpetuate false and dehumanizing stereotypes of the asylum-seekers as ‘illegals’, ‘criminals’, and so-called queue jumpers. The label of security threat is itself is rooted in racist stereotypes and generalized prejudgments of Tamils as potential terrorists. This deliberately created hysteria appeals to conservative fears of refugees, and anti-immigrant advocates like Paul Fromm and the Aryan Guard have gained ground in protesting for the ship to be sent back.

This public fear-mongering is just another tactic to disguise the racist policies that define the history and ongoing realities of Canada’s immigration system. It fits perfectly into Minister of Censorship and Deportation Jason Kenney’s plan to increase detentions and deportation of refugees and undocumented migrants, while bringing in more temporary exploitable migrant labour. Since the Conservatives came into in power, the number of approved asylum claims has dropped by 56%. Kenney’s 2009 report reveals a decreasing “target” of 11,000 people to be accepted refugees and sponsored family members.

Now Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has declared that Cabinet is drafting new policies to “make this country less welcoming for future shipments of human cargo.”

In the face of escalating attacks against these asylum-seekers, No One is Illegal-Vancouver asserts the basic human right to safety, mobility, and protection. The only crime the migrants have committed is make a long and dangerous journey, transgressing this imposed border. It is well known that Tamils in Sri Lanka are fleeing military atrocities including arbitrary detentions, indiscriminate killings, and mass displacement into refugee camps. We continue to call for the immediate release of all the detainees and demand their collective right to stay in Canada with dignity.

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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