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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2039

Canadian diplomat blasts former Liberal government for funding Tiger terror in Sri Lanka

Toronto 19 September, (Asiantribune.com): In a scathing attack on the politics of granting easy refugee status to terrorists the former Canadian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Mr Martin Collacott, has revealed that the FBI has identified Canada as a major source of illegal fundraising to the Tigers because "the federal Liberal government, in an effort to bolster support in the Tamil community, refused to classify the Tigers as a terrorist group despite several recommendations from CSIS to do so."

"This gave the Tigers the freedom to intimidate and extort money from the same Tamil community whose support the Liberals sought. The government's inaction was particularly difficult to justify given that the Tigers are one of the most vicious terrorist movements in the world," he wrote in an article published in the Ottawa Citizen.

He also accused Canada of "extending the civil war and terrorist violence in Sri Lanka through funds channeled from Canada."

Pin-pointing Canada’s "dysfunctional refugee determination system" he says that it helped to flood Canada with Tigers cadres and "establish a major presence in Canada" with ease.

"By 2000 the Toronto police Tamil Task Force estimated that Canada's largest city was home to as many as 8,000 members of Tamil terrorist factions, most notably the Tigers," he stated.

Here is the full text:

"Following the arrest of a number of Canadians of Sri Lankan Tamil origin on charges of trying to procure arms for the Tamil Tigers, it should come as no surprise that the FBI has identified Canada as a major source of illegal fundraising to the terrorist group.

The Tigers have been able to achieve this for two reasons. Firstly, the federal Liberal government, in an effort to bolster support in the Tamil community, refused to classify the Tigers as a terrorist group despite several recommendations from CSIS to do so.

This gave the Tigers the freedom to intimidate and extort money from the same Tamil community whose support the Liberals sought.

The government's inaction was particularly difficult to justify given that the Tigers are one of the most vicious terrorist movements in the world. In Sri Lanka they used children as young as 11 as soldiers and suicide bombers. In Canada they have been involved in a wide range of criminal activities including murder, arson, home invasions, drug trafficking, and bank and credit-card fraud.

While the Conservatives acted quickly after taking office earlier this year to designate them as terrorists, the fact that the recently arrested Tiger representatives from Canada were able to offer $1 million for a shipment of arms indicates that they still have a substantial war chest at their disposal.

The second reason the Tigers have been able to establish a major presence in Canada is the ease with which they have brought in large numbers of supporters through our dysfunctional refugee determination system. While the system has been exploited in recent years by many thousands of individuals who would not have been regarded as legitimate refugees in other countries, the Tigers have been particularly adept at using it to build up a terror support network.

Other countries consider relatively few Sri Lankan Tamil claimants to be genuine refugees. In contrast, Canada has been exceptionally generous. In 2003, for example, our approval rate for such claimants was 76.3 per cent, while other nations on average accepted only 15.8 per cent.

In consequence, in that year we took in one and a half times as many as the rest of the world combined. From 1989 to 2004 we approved claims from more than 37,000 Sri Lankans, far more than from nationals of any other country.

A further indication of the fact that a high percentage of those we accepted were not genuine refugees was that large numbers went back to visit Sri Lanka while their applications were still pending.

Although their claims for asylum were based on the argument that they fled persecution in that country in many cases out of fear for their lives in one year alone more than 8,600 applied to the Sri Lankan High Commission in Ottawa for travel documents so they could make visits to their homeland.

While the Tigers ran human smuggling operations to raise funds for their terrorist cause by bringing people illegally into Canada, such activities were also aimed at strengthening the ranks of their supporters in this country.

The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) helped out by giving expedited processing and almost automatic approval to persons considered to be at risk, including "young Tamil males aged 10 to 40 or 45 years from the north and east" of Sri Lanka (i.e., from the area controlled by the Tamil Tigers) and "young unmarried Tamil females aged 13 to 30 years old" from the same area.

As pointed out by former Canadian ambassador and IRB member William Bauer, these two profiles happen to be identical with those of Tamil Tiger guerrillas. (Unmarried females are favoured by the Tigers for suicide-bombing missions - one was Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's killer.) By 2000 the Toronto police Tamil Task Force estimated that Canada's largest city was home to as many as 8,000 members of Tamil terrorist factions, most notably the Tigers.

As a result of the combined effects of governments that ignored terrorist connections in favour of gaining political support, and a refugee system that laid out a welcome mat for dubious claimants, Canada is now saddled with tens of thousands of terrorists and their supporters particularly if we include all the relatives that successful refugee claimants are subsequently able to sponsor.

Besides the damage we have done to ourselves, we have by our actions almost certainly contributed to extending the civil war and terrorist violence in Sri Lanka through funds channeled from Canada.

Although the Conservative government appears determined to crack down on Tamil Tiger activities including fundraising in Canada, it will take a major effort to fix the refugee determination system that has made it possible for Tamil terrorists to establish themselves in Canada.

All this is not going to make any easier the task of convincing the United States that we are not a haven for terrorists and that our common border should remain as open as possible to the movement of goods and people.

Martin Collacott lives in Vancouver and is a former Canadian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka." (Courtesy : The Ottawa Citizen 2006)

- Asian Tribune -

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