Over 100 Tamil migrants heading to Canada arrested

October 30th, 2010 - 5:29 am ICT by BNO News  

OTTAWA, CANADA (BNO NEWS) — Over 100 Tamil migrants on Friday were arrested by Thai authorities as they were allegedly heading to Canada, the Toronto Star newspaper reported.

Thai authorities informed that 114 Sri Lankans were detained for being illegal migrants as many of them did not have identification documents or possessed improper identification. Some of the detained are suspected to be members of the Tamil Tigers.

Canada’s Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that the arrests and the proposed legislation to combat human smuggling should discourage other migrants planning to illegally enter Canada.

“We understand that they detained over 100 illegal immigrants who apparently were planning on coming to Canada through a smuggling operation. We think this sends a strong message to the smugglers and their would-be customers that they should think twice,” Kenney said.

Kenney did not disclose if Canadian agents were involved in the arrests but remarked the increased cooperation between Canada’s law enforcement agencies and authorities in south Asia, especially in Thailand.

“We acknowledge that the best way to stop boats from arriving in Canada is to stop them from leaving the transit countries in the first place. So, local police action against illegal smuggling rings is essential. And for that reason we congratulate the Thai authorities for their alertness.”

Canada has received thousands of Tamil refugees and many more had entered the country illegally. The government is proposing a legislation that would impose longer jail terms on human smugglers and smuggled migrants. The latter could receive up to a year in prison a five years on probation.

In August, a ship loaded with near 500 Sri Lankan migrants docked at a Canadian naval base in British Columbia. The vessel declared to have 490 refugees on board but Canada suspected some of them to be human smugglers and terrorists.

Canada, which is home to around 300,000 Tamils, has deemed the Tamil Tigers a terrorist group and will not accept members as migrants or refugees.

The Tamil Tiger rebels were defeated by the Sri Lankan army last year after more than two decades of conflict. The rebels were accused of using child soldiers, suicide bombers, and human shields. It labeled as a terrorist organization by many nations worldwide.

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