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    Suspected ship under watch

    Suspected ship under watch
    Manjula FERNANDO
    Sunday, 11 July 2010

    A suspected LTTE vessel carrying over 200 illegal immigrants including hardcore LTTE leaders set sail from the Gulf of Thailand to Canada last week, Prof. Rohan Gunaratna told the Sunday Observer from his office in Singapore.

    He said several governments were monitoring the ship, MV Sun Sea, to determine its possible destination and prevent entry without detection since the ship was believed to be carrying a group of LTTE leaders. MV Sun Sea earlier known as Harin Panich 19, is captained by an LTTE Sea Tiger leader Vinod and manned by a 24-member crew.

    International terrorism experts warn it could try to deceive the countries that are monitoring its movements, by changing its course from time to time to prevent interception.

    Two weeks ago, the ship was believed to be heading towards Australia and the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry, through its mission in Canberra, tipped off the Australian Government of the imminent threat. Since then there had not been any news of the vessel.Prof. Gunaratna said, “Canada is likely to permit their entry, but deny citizenship to those identified as LTTE.”

    The Thailand Navy sea patrols spotted MV Sun Sea, a vessel previously used for gun running, near the Exclusive Economic Zone of the country in April. When the sailors tried to intercept the unidentified vessel, ‘Captain Vinod’ threatened that several illegal immigrants will throw themselves overboard if anyone tried to board his ship.

    Later it set sail, but Prof. Gunaratna said the ship had been idling in the Gulf of Thailand for days before it set sail for Canada, last week.

    Vinod has been identified as the Deputy of Captain Kamalraj Kandasamy, who conducted North Korean arms procurement voyages for the LTTE earlier. Vinod was involved in procuring several thousand tonnes of arms, ammunition and explosives from North Korea in the past.

    sundayobserver.lk


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    Sri Lanka refugee ship nears British Columbia
    11 August 2010


    Former rebels and their children share camps throughout northern Sri Lanka

    A Thai cargo ship thought to be carrying 200 Tamil migrants from Sri Lanka is within 200 nautical miles of Canada's coast, media reports say.

    At its current speed, the ship could reach Canadian waters by late Thursday, the CBC News network reported.

    Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has said there is reason to believe members of the defeated Tamil Tigers movement are on the ship, the MV Sun Sea.

    The Tamil Tigers have been outlawed in Canada as a terrorist group since 2006.

    The ship is reportedly now within Canada's "exclusive economic zone", an area that stretches 200 nautical miles (370km) from the coast.

    Canadian territorial waters extend roughly 12 nautical miles (22km) off the coast.

    Preparing prisons

    Speaking in Toronto on Monday, Mr Toews said: "I can assure you that we are concerned about who is on that ship and why they might be coming."

    Officials anticipate the immigrants will be taken to two correctional facilities in Maple Ridge, a town east of Vancouver.

    British Columbia's Ministry of Children and Family Development is likely to take care of any children aboard the ship.

    Corrections officers and sheriffs at the prisons have been told to be ready for up to 500 Tamil migrants or refugees in the coming days, most of them men, the Associated Press news agency reported.

    The US Coast Guard is also reported to be monitoring the ship.

    The Tamil Tigers were defeated by the Sri Lankan army last year after more than two decades of conflict.

    bbc.co.uk

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    Canada prepared to prosecute those behind B.C.-bound `people-smuggling' ship
    Tobi Cohen, Postmedia News
    July 17, 2010

    News that another Thai cargo ship, this time carrying more than 200 illegal Sri Lankan migrants, is headed for Canada is raising concerns within Toronto's tight-knit Tamil community.

    David Poopalapillai, a spokesman for the Canadian Tamil Congress, said while he discourages people from making the ``treacherous'' voyage by sea, he understands they are doing it out of desperation.

    While the civil war between government forces and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels ended little more than a year ago, he said ethnic tensions remain high.

    ``If you go really deeply into the Sri Lankan situation, right now Tamils are still a persecuted minority,'' he said. ``They are still subject to torture and rape.''

    Canadian authorities are currently monitoring the vessel which is believed to be headed for British Columbia where a similar ship carrying 76 Sri Lankan migrants arrived last fall. After that incident, it was widely rumoured that more ships would try to come to Canada.

    ``The thing is that Canada has always been considered one of the safest havens,'' Poopalapillai said. ``Not only by Tamils . . . for marginalized communities all around the world.''

    Sri Lanka's Sunday Observer, a newspaper often criticized as biased due to the fact that it's state-owned, reported last Sunday that the MV Sun Sea was headed for the Canadian coast.

    Initially destined for Australia, the report suggests Sri Lankan authorities tipped Canberra to the threat, prompting the ship's change of course about two weeks ago.

    The 59-metre ship was recently seen in the Gulf of Thailand, according to the Observer, and it set sail for Canada last week.

    The report suggests the vessel has been used for gun running in the past and that ``hardcore'' Tamil terror leaders are among the passengers.

    Foreign Affairs said it's aware of the report and that anybody caught smuggling humans would be prosecuted.

    ``Those responsible for migrant smuggling will be pursued, investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of Canadian law and in accordance with the provisions of international conventions and protocols,'' spokeswoman Ambra Dickie said.

    The Sun Sea has been under close watch by the Canadian government since May.

    Canada and Australia had asked Thai officials then to board two vessels allegedly set to ferry migrants to the two countries.

    Officials at the Thai Embassy in Ottawa could not confirm whether any searches took place.

    Celyeste Power, a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, called the reports a ``prime example of individuals trying to take advantage of our generous immigration system.''

    That said, future asylum seekers will be subject to Canada's new streamlined refugee system which was passed by the Senate last month.

    The new Balanced Refugee Reform Act sets shorter deadlines for handling refugee claims, creates an appeal division for the first time, and also beefs up resources in a bid to clear the backlog of almost 60,000 claims in the system.

    The new legislation will ultimately allow refugee claimants from a list of countries considered respectful of human rights to appeal a negative ruling.

    Appeals will be fast-tracked, and those who appeal a failed ruling as far as the Federal Court of Canada, can be deported while waiting for the court to act.

    Many of the 76 asylum seekers who arrived on the Ocean Lady, a similar-sized vessel, last October joined Toronto's large Tamil community after being released from custody.

    About a third of them were detained for several months on suspicion of being Tamil Tigers but were released under strict conditions due to a lack of evidence. According to the Immigration and Refugee Board, all 76 migrants have since made refugee claims and the board has deemed all are eligible to be heard.

    ottawacitizen.com

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    Too bad the submarines Canada purchased from the UK were defective and floating deathtraps. Otherwise they could have sent a sub to torpedo the filth. Yea, and that's what the Tamil Tigers are: Murderous filth. Send them back to Sri Lanka where they belong.

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    Ship carrying Tamil migrants due to arrive in B.C.
    Fri. Aug. 13 2010


    A military boat passes by CFB Esquimalt in Colwood, B.C., Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010.

    (Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

    After three months at sea, the MV Sun Sea cargo ship carrying nearly 500 Tamil migrants is being escorted by the Canadian navy to a Vancouver Island harbour and is expected to land shortly.

    The ship left Thailand in May and was intercepted by the Canadian military off the coast of British Columbia on Thursday.

    Transport Canada has confirmed that the MV Sun Sea will be taken to Esquimalt harbour at CFB Esquimalt.

    By 4 a.m. local time the ship was crossing the Juan de Fuca Straight, about 20 kiometres of shore. It was expected to reach Esquimalt by 6 a.m. local time.

    Large white tents have been set up at the naval base to help screen passengers and crew once they arrive.

    Local health officials are calling the situation a humanitarian emergency and have reopened a ward at Victoria General Hospital with 75 to 100 beds to treat ill passengers.

    There have been reports that several passengers may have contracted tuberculosis during the voyage, and that one person may have died.

    Those determined to have a communicable disease such as tuberculosis will be quarantined, health official say. Passengers with other health problems will be treated and released back into custody.

    The migrants will eventually be taken to a correctional facility in Maple Ridge, B.C., and housed there while their refugee claims are processed.
    A "large number" of children are believed to be aboard the ship, according to a lawyer who has spoken with the migrants' families.

    Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has said that some of the 490 passengers are "human smugglers and terrorists," and pledged that Ottawa would take swift action when the ship arrives.

    "Human smuggling, illegal migration or any other abuses of Canada's immigration system can not and will not be tolerated," he said in a statement released early Friday.

    The MV Sun Sea is the second ship to make its way to Canada following the end of a lengthy civil war in Sri Lanka.

    The first ship was the Ocean Lady, which brought 76 Tamil migrants to Canada last October.

    ctv.ca

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    Quote Originally Posted by zygote1 View Post
    Too bad the submarines Canada purchased from the UK were defective and floating deathtraps. Otherwise they could have sent a sub to torpedo the filth. Yea, and that's what the Tamil Tigers are: Murderous filth. Send them back to Sri Lanka where they belong.
    They're not welcomed to Sri Lanka. Though, if they're looking for settlement and closure - try the state of Tamil.

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    No sign of them here. Reckon they are not playing by the rules and reporting position. Not much action around BC shipping wise but if you navigate over to ME, there is a major traffic jam.

    Live Ships Map - AIS - Vessel Traffic and Positions

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    MV Sun Sea gave watery burial for one Tamil migrant who died on board
    Mon, 2010-08-16

    MV Sun Sea, which had about 500 Tamil asylum seekers when it left Thailand, had one death on board last month, it is reported. A Canadian press release said there was nothing to indicate foul play in that.

    The person who died was 37-year-old of Sri Lankan descent and he died of an illness, the officials said in a release. His name has not been released.

    RCMP confirmed claims made by the Canadian Tamil Congress that the man was buried at sea about three weeks ago, while the ship was in international waters.

    Sarujan Kanapathipillai, a spokesman for the Tamil Congress, said lawyers and other members have spoken with 35 women who have been detained by Canadian authorities pending their processing, and learned that the man died on July 28.

    "Coming on the boat, he was in good health," he said. "Somewhere along the line, something must have gone wrong." Kanapathipillai said the man is survived by his wife and child, who are in Sri Lanka.

    He said, the migrants realized they were in for a long, tumultuous journey when they decided to make the trip. "They took that risk because of the deplorable conditions in Sri Lanka and what they were trying to run away from."

    There were two pregnant woman among them, and as many as 30 children.

    Other than the single death on the extremely cramped 59-metre-long ship, authorities said the migrants were generally in good shape.

    Health officials said they have found no indication of communicable diseases among the group. Nausea and dehydration were the most common complaints, officials said.

    Officials have also said that while the ship was extremely cramped with its human cargo, it was clean and well-organized. It was stocked with dried fish, bags of rice, water and juice, and those on board appeared well-fed and dressed.

    In the mean time many of the approximately 490 Tamil asylum seekers who arrived in British Colombia last week have been brought to Metro Vancouver, where the first hearings in their refugee claim process begin today (Monday).

    The Canadian Tamil Congress has assembled a team of lawyers from Toronto and Vancouver to represent the approximately 400 men, 60 women and 30 children who arrived at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt Friday morning after three months in a small tramp freighter, the Sun Sea.

    “So far we have about 10 lawyers on standby,” said David Poopalapillai, a Vancouver spokesman for the Tamil Congress. “The [first] challenge is for [the migrants] to prove their identities — that they are from Sri Lanka — with some kind of documentation, and that they are not tied to any illegal activity.

    Legal counsel for the Tamil Congress, Gary Anandasangaree, said the politics surrounding the ship are overshadowing the stories and desperation of those who were aboard. “There are 490 stories here, and we’re not hearing them out,” he said. “Let’s not paint everybody as a human-smuggler or a terrorist. There’s a five-year-old here. There are two unborn children.”

    Poopalapillai said the congress will also have counsellors and psychologists available for those needing emotional support today.“Although they have been declared physically healthy by government doctors, we believe their mental health is not that great,” he said.

    ‘Ottawa wants to cut off financial links between country's Tamil diaspora and human traffickers’

    Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has said Canadian authorities suspect members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers -- a group branded a terrorist organization by the Canadian government and banned from entering the country -- were aboard the ship.

    Ottawa wants to choke off financial links between this country's Tamil diaspora and the human traffickers who sell passage on ships to Canada.

    Vic Toews said he has been told the organizers of the voyage of the MV Sun Sea, which reached Canada, charged up to $50,000 a passenger – for a potential total haul of more than $20-million.

    Inside the Harper government, questions are being raised as to whether Canadian residents helped pay, Mr. Toews said in an interview Sunday. It is a criminal offence to give money to a banned terrorist organization or to participate in human smuggling.

    Mr. Toews said he is worried by reports from his officials that the journey could have been organized by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The Tamil Tigers, as they are known, were banned as a terrorist organization in Canada after an RCMP investigation found evidence of substantial fundraising – voluntary and extorted – from legitimate Tamil immigrants to Canada.

    asiantribune.com

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    They're here. Don't care how much each one paid, it's gonna cost us $50,000 just to process each one of the slugs. Never mind the cost for housing, feeding, clothing, and educating them. Canada shoulda intercepted the ship, provided aid and medicine, and turned them back. Bladdy bleeding heart feks in this country won't do it. Too bad the US doesn't have a proper prez to pressure our govt into telling these people to fek off. Now, two more boatloads of "refugees" have probably already set sail to our shores coz they'll see what a pussy Canada is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Gorgon
    Too bad the US doesn't have a proper prez to pressure our govt into telling these people to fek off.
    What business is this of the United States? If you think the US should poke their nose where it don't belong, why don't you fek off out of my country and go live there?

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    Was there something wrong with the ship's navigation system?

    How the fuck did they miss the UK?

    I'm pretty sure they'd settle in here fine and most certainly have close relatives living here already!

    Free cars, housing, grocery coupons...you name it we've got and its ALL free subject to certain conditions. (UK tax payers exempt!)

    Turn em around and send them to the UK, more than welcome for sure.


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    Quote Originally Posted by pickel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Gorgon
    Too bad the US doesn't have a proper prez to pressure our govt into telling these people to fek off.
    What business is this of the United States? If you think the US should poke their nose where it don't belong, why don't you fek off out of my country and go live there?
    Your country? Funny. OK, well seeing as how "your" country can't do anything right, I'm pointing out the fact that the US doesn't want a bunch of the scumbag "refugees" sneaking across the border. You know, the "refugees" that "YOUR" country welcomes every fekin year because you and "YOUR" country are a bunch of PC pansies and can't say NO. But, that is just the PC front that many folks in "YOUR" country make so they don't get slapped with a charge of racism. I just looked at a Vancouver Sun poll and more than 60% of the respondents showed their true face and want the govt to send the ship and its "refugees" from whence it came.

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    CA/US

    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Gorgon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pickel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Gorgon
    Too bad the US doesn't have a proper prez to pressure our govt into telling these people to fek off.
    What business is this of the United States? If you think the US should poke their nose where it don't belong, why don't you fek off out of my country and go live there?
    Your country? Funny. OK, well seeing as how "your" country can't do anything right, I'm pointing out the fact that the US doesn't want a bunch of the scumbag "refugees" sneaking across the border. You know, the "refugees" that "YOUR" country welcomes every fekin year because you and "YOUR" country are a bunch of PC pansies and can't say NO. But, that is just the PC front that many folks in "YOUR" country make so they don't get slapped with a charge of racism. I just looked at a Vancouver Sun poll and more than 60% of the respondents showed their true face and want the govt to send the ship and its "refugees" from whence it came.
    ^
    Good post.
    I enjoyed the summers of my youth on PEI but was mostly raised in Boston.
    There is a diff'rence 'twixt these North American neighbors: the first of which comes to my mind: Canadians are the happiest population in the Western Hemisphere and that preceded their country's commodity boom (Oil, Copper, Diamonds, etc.). And since this lovely boom began, they're still not shooting at one another.
    I regard the the war on drugs to be both sham and scam...and, in the mean, people in US continue to slaughter one another. Sorry to rant, but it disturbs me.
    Hope to read more of your posts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Gorgon
    Your country? Funny. OK, well seeing as how "your" country can't do anything right, I'm pointing out the fact that the US doesn't want a bunch of the scumbag "refugees" sneaking across the border. You know, the "refugees" that "YOUR" country welcomes every fekin year because you and "YOUR" country are a bunch of PC pansies and can't say NO. But, that is just the PC front that many folks in "YOUR" country make so they don't get slapped with a charge of racism. I just looked at a Vancouver Sun poll and more than 60% of the respondents showed their true face and want the govt to send the ship and its "refugees" from whence it came.
    My post had NOTHING to do with immigration. I can only guess where your allegiance would lie if Canada ever had a falling out with the US.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thaiedward View Post
    I enjoyed the summers of my youth on PEI but was mostly raised in Boston.
    Canadians are the happiest population in the Western Hemisphere
    PEI and all the Atlantic provinces are lovely and very different from the rest of the country.
    Most Canadians are fake happy, IMO -- under the control of the mind police. Get them aside and they divulge their hatred for a variety of things. I do love the Mounties. Best police force in the world.
    Quote Originally Posted by pickel View Post
    My post had NOTHING to do with immigration. I can only guess where your allegiance would lie if Canada ever had a falling out with the US.
    Testy, testy. Since you called me "traitor scum" in your red blob comment, I guess you love "YOUR" pansy nation, where the govt thinks you are too stupid or incapable of doing things by yourself so they have lots of laws and entitlement programs to take care of you and anyone who wants to enter "YOUR" country illegally by claiming refugee status. You must be brain-washed if you enjoy spending your tax dollars supporting these people. If it came to a US/Cdn war, I'd be contributing to the war effort for my forefathers' country. Coz it's the best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Gorgon
    If it came to a US/Cdn war, I'd be contributing to the war effort for my forefathers' country. Coz it's the best.
    If you love it so much, why don't you live there?

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    The ‘impossible’ voyage of a Tamil ghost ship
    Mark MacKinnon
    Friday, Aug. 20, 2010


    The Sun Sea plies Thai waters in May, 2010.
    Royal Thai Navy

    The barely seaworthy Sun Sea eluded authorities for months, and baffled officials warn more are likely to come to Canada

    Whispers about a boat headed to Canada began long ago in Thailand’s small and closely knit Tamil community.

    Among the regulars at the New Madras Café – a Tamil restaurant in the bustling commercial heart of Bangkok that serves roti, curry and lassis under photographs of the beaches of the Tamil heartland in northern Sri Lanka – there was frequent talk that the infamous Tamil Tigers, or at least some of their ex-operatives, were planning something: A money-raising operation that would also help the organization regroup after its devastating defeat ended Sri Lanka's three-decade civil war.

    “The talk started a long time ago. But it wasn’t just talk,” one of the café’s regulars says.

    What eventually emerged out of that idle chatter – the saga of the Sun Sea and its 492 bedraggled passengers – is the stuff of spy thrillers. A ship purchased by a man who was rich on paper, but lived in apparent poverty in a cheap apartment. Hundreds of people loaded onto small fishing boats and taken out to sea to rendezvous in international waters. A mid-sea clash with a Thai warship, the chase abandoned only when the so-called ghost ship reached Vietnamese waters.


    The fishing port of Songkhla, Thailand.
    Cedric Arnold/Getty Images for The Globe and Mail

    The plan to take Tamils fleeing the aftermath of Sri Lanka’s civil war to Canada appears to have been hatched almost two years ago. But though authorities tracked the Sun Sea for months before its arrival off the coast of British Columbia, those operating the boat were always a step ahead, adept not only at moving people across borders and oceans, but also at keeping their operation quiet and covering their tracks.

    But there is a trail. The ship that came to be known as the Sun Sea arrived in Songkhla on April 1 at the end of what was expected to be its final journey. Barely seaworthy, the ship’s previous owners had agreed to sell it for scrap after it made one last delivery of animal feed from Bangkok to this southern port city, which is known as much as a hub for human trafficking and sex tourism from nearby Malaysia as for its white-sand beaches and the offshore-oil platform that drives its economy during daylight hours.

    The 57-metre craft, then known as the Harin Panich 19, was considered too small to carry larger, more profitable cargo and so old that it was considered a safety risk.

    So, the owners were relieved when a buyer emerged in March, paying 5.35-million Thai baht, or about $175,000 Canadian.

    The new owners – a company called Sun & Rshiya Co. that was owned on paper by a Sri Lankan national named Christhurajah Kunarobinson – insisted on immediate delivery and took possession of the ship in Songkhla.

    Mr. Kunarobinson, a small, dark-skinned man who favoured casual business attire, spoke no Thai and said little as he signed the documents on March 30 that officially made his company the new owner. Then he disappeared.


    The Harin Panich 19, which was renamed the MV Sun Sea.

    marinetraffic.com/ The Globe and Mail

    A few days later, the ship – now nameless and stripped of its Thai flag and registration – also went missing. On April 7, a crew of a dozen men, described as Indian or Sri Lankan in appearance, arrived in Songkhla and took the ship out to sea, telling dock workers they were headed north to the port of Surat Thani to do some repairs. The ship never arrived in Surat Thani, and never filled out the paperwork – including a declaration of destination – required of an unflagged ship heading into international waters.

    Three weeks later, the southern command of the Royal Thai Navy dispatched planes to search for the missing craft, which had drawn the attention of the Australian government, fearful that a boat of migrants might be headed its way. The planes found nothing, but on May 8, the Sun Sea was sighted by workers on a Chevron-operated oil platform 110 kilometres from Songkhla.

    A dramatic chase began. A Thai warship, HTMS Sattahip, quickly closed in on the Sun Sea as it bobbed in the waters late that night with its engine off. The Sattahip repeatedly hailed the migrant boat, demanding to know where it was headed. At dawn the next day, the Sattahip moved in on the Sun Sea, with orders to board the craft. As the warship closed, it saw some 150 Tamils clustered on the deck, many of them waving their hands happily at the Thai warship. But chaos erupted as the Sattahip neared. One man on board the Sun Sea hurled a gas canister at the Thai ship. Others tried to leap aboard the Sattahip in what the Thai crew interpreted as an attempt to escape.

    “It was very dangerous to jump ships like this. The Sattahip had to pull away,” said a Thai Navy officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Sattahip resumed shadowing the Sun Sea, which had now restarted its engine. A man who identified himself as the captain of the Sun Sea made voice contact with the Sattahip, claiming he had begun his journey in Singapore and was now headed to Bangkok. But the ship headed east, and three hours later the Thai Navy was forced to abandon its pursuit as the Sun Sea crossed into Vietnamese territorial waters.

    The Vietnamese Maritime Police reported contact with the Sun Sea on May 13, but no other details are known.

    Records suggest the Sun Sea was spotted again in Thai waters – again near Songkhla – on May 17. Two days later, 40 Sri Lankans checked in to a hotel there, but were seen that evening boarding fishing boats in Songkhla port.


    A sign solicits help in the fight against human trafficking, a brisk business in Songkhla.
    Cedric Arnold/Getty Images for the Globe and Mail

    Five days later, a Thai Navy official stationed in Singapore reported that the still-flagless ship had docked there. Then the ship disappeared again.

    “Nobody knows what happened after that. It was like a ghost ship,” said another Thai Navy officer who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    The ship’s former owners are shocked the journey was attempted at all. Bhumindr Harinsuit, managing director of Harin Panich, said the 30-year-old Japanese-built ship was barely able to make the trek between Bangkok and Songkhla. The idea of taking the rickety boat as far as Canada was too crazy to contemplate.

    “Even in the Gulf of Thailand, if there were rough seas she wouldn’t travel. They must have had a good captain,” said Venus Pornprasert, the fleet manager for Harin Panich, who frequently captained the ship. (Some reports have named a veteran Tamil Tiger arms smuggler known as Vinod as the ship’s captain on its journey to Canada.) Making the trip even more astonishing was its cargo of 492 human beings. When sold, the ship only had sleeping space for 15 crew, one small toilet, a galley kitchen and life rafts for a maximum of 30 people. With space for only 12 tonnes of water, supplies would have had to have been harshly rationed to keep from running out mid-journey.

    “The captain was taking an amazing risk. We wouldn’t even send it to Malaysia,” Mr. Harinsuit said. “The surprise isn’t that someone died [on the way to Canada], the surprise is that it was only one person who died.”

    Thai security sources believe the boat spent part of its journey time bobbing helplessly in international waters in the Gulf of Thailand. On June 21, three ships were tracked departing from another port in southern Thailand that were believed to be carrying food, water and spare parts for the Sun Sea.

    After that, however, they lost track of the ship for good. Later, when the ship was sighted off the coast of Canada, Mr. Harinsuit found himself sitting in his office explaining to Thai police and an RCMP attaché everything he could remember about Sun & Rshiya, Mr. Kunarobinson and the boat he sold them.

    “I told them I never dreamed of this vessel going this far. I even told them it was impossible.”


    Bangkok's Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, the spiritual centre of the Tamil community.
    Jeremy Horner/Getty Images for The Globe and Mail

    A home away from home


    The Tamils of Bangkok are a mix of traders and asylum-seekers drawn by word that the local office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees was one of the easiest places to get official refugee status. A UN agency lists 800 officially recognized Tamil refugees living in the Thai capital, many who stay only a few months before they lose track of them.

    Few of Thailand’s long-term resident Tamils appear to have been aboard the Sun Sea when it sailed. Authorities believe most of the migrants flew in on tourist visas just before the Sun Sea left Songkhla.

    When asked why they were going to Thailand, they were told to say “Just to enjoy,” explained another patron at the New Madras Café, which doubles as a hostel for recent Tamil arrivals and is located just two blocks north of the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, the centre of spiritual life in Bangkok for the predominantly Hindu Tamils. “But they came because they were going to Canada.”

    Though the café was almost deserted, the middle-aged man was nervous as he spoke, looking over his shoulder and eventually resorting to writing his answers down on paper so they couldn’t be overheard.

    Official Thai documents show that on May 1, authorities sent out a bulletin that 120 Tamils had been spotted travelling from Bangkok to Songkhla in a caravan of two buses and two vans. They were last spotted in the fishing hamlet of Ban Lae, on the outskirts of Songkhla.

    “There were four Sri Lankans or Indians who came here in May. They walked around the village and talked amongst themselves, and then two of them came back the next day with two other Sri Lankan people. It was like they were surveying,” said Dollosh Suksuwan, a 30-year-old unemployed oil worker who lives in Ban Lae.

    While others in the hamlet denied having seen any foreigners recently, Mr. Dollosh said Ban Lae was perfect for those who wanted to sneak illicit cargo out to sea. “After dark, after 10 p.m., no one will ask what you are doing.”

    Thai authorities believe that the people smugglers used Ban Lae and other fishing villages to ferry their human cargo out to the Sun Sea in small groups. “They could do it anywhere off the coast of Thailand. Thailand has a lot of fishing boats,” a Thai navy source said.

    Only one Bangkok Tamil, a man known locally as Anton, is known to be among those who left. After years of living in Thailand with official UNHCR refugee status while his wife and family remained behind in Sri Lanka, Anton told friends in April his family was coming to Thailand to join him. Anton and his family disappeared from Bangkok shortly before the Sun Sea disappeared from Songkhla.

    Asked how Anton, an ostensible refugee, could afford to bring his family to Canada at the reported $40,000 to $50,000 per place on the Sun Sea, the nervous café patron went silent again. After a pause, he again wrote on a piece of paper: “He was LTTE,” as in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The Tamil Tigers.


    19 Pet Kasem soi 77, Bangkok: Apartment 22 was used as an address to register the Sun Sea.
    Jeremy Horner/Getty Images for The Globe and Mail

    The front man

    Christhurajah Kunarobinson didn’t live like a man who owned his own business, nor one who was shopping for a 57-metre boat. The 30-year-old lived a Spartan existence in Thailand, paying just $80 month to rent an apartment in a poor neighbourhood of west Bangkok.

    Thai documents show Mr. Kunarobinson flew into Bangkok from Colombo in April, 2008, on a tourist visa. At some point later that year he left Thailand, returning in October on a business visa overland from Malaysia, which the Sri Lankan embassy in Bangkok says has long been used by the Tamil Tigers as a fundraising and money-laundering centre. Mr. Kunarobinson and three Thai partners registered Sun & Rshiya Co. Ltd. as a “fruits, vegetables and clothing” company in November, 2008, declaring assets of two-million baht (about $65,000). Mr. Kunarobinson, who owned the largest block of shares in the new firm, listed his occupation as “merchant.”

    After registering, Sun & Rshiya never filed another paper, missing the annual deadline to file its mandatory statement for 2009. Then it bought the Harin Panich 19.

    The building manager at Mr. Kunarobinson’s last listed address says he was one of a group of Sri Lankans and Indians who lived in the building before the landlord grew tired of the constant visits by police and stopped allowing foreigners to rent.

    According to his passport, Mr. Kunarobinson was born April 13, 1980, in Jaffna, the Tamil cultural capital in northern Sri Lanka. He was in Thailand on a valid work permit attached to his role as the head of Sun & Rshiya.

    There was no sign of Mr. Kunarobinson’s Thai partners at the meeting where he signed documents to take possession of the ship. He couldn’t speak Thai and had to have someone show him where to sign his name.

    Rather than the relaxed scrawl of someone who has been signing his name for most of three decades, Mr. Kunarobinson’s signature is printed in careful, boxy letters as if the name were unfamiliar to him and he was afraid of making a mistake.

    Invisible in plain sight

    The trail of the Mr. Kunarobinson and the Sun Sea ends in the port city of Songkhla, a gritty crossroads 70 kilometres north of the Malaysian border.

    Despite strong evidence suggesting that at least 160 of the Sun Sea’s passengers passed through Songkhla at some point, no one interviewed by The Globe and Mail recalled the migrants. But dock workers at the city’s deep-water fishing port recall seeing an unfamiliar vessel on May 19, the day 40 Tamils were taken from their hotel at 7 p.m. and loaded onto a boat that Thai authorities believe took them to the Sun Sea. The shuttle ship had two flags, one Thai and one foreign.

    “There was a strange boat docked here that night, one I never saw before,” recalled Toy Surakamhang, a 37-year-old dockhand. “I didn’t see any people on it, but it wasn’t carrying any cargo either.”

    But the records kept by the harbour master show only 10 Thai flagged boats in the port that day, none with dual nationality. The port is known as a hotbed of corruption, a place where money can make sure that no one sees anything. “There might have been some irresponsibility at Songkhla harbour,” said Boonlam Janbunjong, a senior official at the Bangkok headquarters of the country’s Marine Department.

    The Tamil Tigers – suspected by many of having run the Sun Sea as a fundraising operation – have a long history of operating in Thailand. The country’s lax borders and laissez-faire policing made it an ideal logistics and supply centre during the Tigers’ three-decade struggle for independence.

    The movement’s arms-procurement chief, Kumaran Pathmanathan (currently the leader of the LTTE following the death of his predecessor, Vellupillai Prabhakaran) was based in Thailand for much of the conflict until he was arrested and deported to Sri Lanka in 2009. Mr. Pathmanathan set up numerous companies in the country, and – according to the Sri Lankan Embassy in Bangkok – even a shipyard on the tourist island of Phuket that built submersibles for use in the conflict.

    “Thailand is a very natural base for their operations. They have very deep roots in Thailand, as well in Malaysia and Indonesia. But the law enforcement is very lax in Thailand,” said Rohan Gunaratna, a Singapore-based security specialist and an expert on the Tamil Tigers, whom he believes were responsible for the Sun Sea operation.

    Mr. Gunaratna is convinced that there is another boat, possibly two, ready to sail to Canada, depending on how the refugee claimants from the Sun Sea are received by Canada’s legal system. “Based on Canada’s response to the Ocean Lady, the Sun Sea arrived,” he said, referring to a similar ship carrying 76 Tamil migrants that arrived in Canada last year from India. “Depending on the Canadian government’s response to the Sun Sea, more boats will come.”

    Because of the sophistication of the Tamil network in Thailand, the next ship could quite easily also come from here, he said. In Bangkok, there are already whispers – as in Canada – of another boat being prepared. Local Tamils nod affirmatively when asked if they’ve heard of other ships, but refuse to say anything more.

    Thai authorities and foreign security experts alike shrug when asked if there are other ships on their way. They’re still trying to figure out how the Sun Sea eluded their grasp for so long, and arrests seem far from imminent.

    So good at hiding people and things in plain sight, the network that sent the “ghost ship” clear across the Pacific has itself now vanished.

    theglobeandmail.com

  18. #18
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    In a Bangkok apartment, Tamils wait for a ship to Canada
    Mark MacKinnon
    Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010


    The Sri Mariamman Temple,located in the Bang Rak district of Bangkok, is the symbolic centre of the Tamil community scattered around bangkok and its suburbs.
    Getty Images for The Globe and Mail

    Though claiming to be tourists, they show little interest in seeing the sights of the Thai capital

    The four men, Sri Lankan Tamils, say they are in Thailand on vacation, though they rarely venture outside their one-room apartment on the outskirts of the Thai capital. They sit together on the bed, endlessly watching old movies in English and Thai that they barely understand.

    They have a standard answer when asked why they have come to Thailand. “Tourists. Arrived last week. Leaving next week,” said a 25-year-old man named Baksubramaniam, who then claimed to speak no more English, though he seemed to understand the language well.

    In the same five-floor building on Bangkok’s northern outskirts – far from the city’s usual attractions – are two more rooms occupied by Tamils who call themselves tourists. One is a family of four, the other another group of men.

    Those familiar with the workings of an alleged Tamil Tiger human-smuggling ring say the Tamils are in fact in transit. They are waiting for the next boat to take them to Canada, as the MV Sun Sea did for 492 Tamil asylum seekers who arrived in British Columbia via Thailand this month. And there are at least several dozen more Tamils waiting at other addresses visited by The Globe and Mail in and around Bangkok.

    “The people who arranged the Sun Sea are arranging another boat now. I don’t know how long it will be [before it’s ready to depart],” said a well-known member of Bangkok’s Tamil community who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    Asked whether any of them hope to travel onwards to Canada, the waiting men whisper among themselves in Tamil before denying any interest in following those who recently passed through Thailand before boarding the MV Sun Sea for Canada. The Tamils smile widely at the mention of faraway Canada, but stick to their line that they’re in Thailand as tourists.

    A source gave The Globe and Mail a list of addresses where he said recently arrived Tamils were being warehoused before their departure for Canada. Recently arrived Tamils were living at several of them, while neighbours living near the other addresses said groups of Tamils had lived in the empty apartments until recently.

    Records kept by management at the building where Baksubramaniam and the other “tourists” were staying add to the suggestion that they aren’t in Bangkok to see the sights. Despite having no car, they stay almost an hour's drive from Bangkok’s city centre, in an apartment block so close to the Thai capital’s secondary Don Mueng airport that the building shakes as planes fly low overhead every few minutes.

    The building’s manager says the Tamils rarely leave their cramped rooms, which come equipped with a single bed, a small colour television and a fan.

    Although they are in the country on two-week tourist visas, the Tamils signed nine-month leases on the three rooms at just over $100 per room per month. Two of the three Sri Lankan passports used as documentation for the leases were issued this year. Baksubramaniam’s passport was issued in Colombo on July 15, barely three weeks before he was in Bangkok signing the lease.

    Staff at the building say that it’s actually a rotating cast of Tamils who use the apartments. “They don’t stay here long. They come in groups of four or five, stay for a while, and then leave. Then another group comes,” said Reangratana Peangkayai, who manages the building’s books.

    If the Tamils are indeed hoping to go to Canada, they'll be following a trail blazed by those who recently made the perilous 10-week journey across the Pacific Ocean aboard the Sun Sea. Thai police sources say the majority of those who transited through Thailand before boarding the Sun Sea – which left from the southern port city of Songkhla some time in April – were recent arrivals who entered the country on tourist visas shortly before the ship departed.

    On May 1, Thai authorities made note of an estimated 120 Tamils who travelled in a caravan from Bangkok to a fishing hamlet near Songkhla before apparently boarding small craft that took them to a rendezvous with the Sun Sea in the Gulf of Thailand. Two and a half weeks later, another group of 40 Tamil tourists checked in en masse at a hotel in Songkhla before heading to the port the same night and boarding fishing boats that are again believed to have met the Sun Sea.

    The entire operation is fuelled by enormous amounts of money. Those left behind in Thailand are often legitimate asylum-seekers who admit they’d love to go to Canada but don’t have the requisite cash.

    “I would like to go to Canada like the others, but it’s expensive,” said Suhumar, a 23-year-old who fled the final stages of Sri Lanka’s civil war 16 months ago after his father disappeared and he was briefly jailed.

    Suhumar, who is officially registered in Bangkok with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, said agents operating in the Thai capital and offering safe passage to Canada are charging tens of thousands of dollars.

    “How,” he said, “can an ordinary refugee afford this?”

    theglobeandmail.com

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    Canada wary of third Tamil immigrant ship entering country's waters

    Ottawa, Oct 9 : After concerns were raised in the past two years over two vessels carrying Tamil immigrants reaching Canada, officials are now reportedly investigating whether a third ship is attempting to ferry Tamil migrants from Sri Lanka to the country.

    According to The BBC, authorities are using satellites to determine the location of the ship.

    Public safety ministry spokesman David Charbonneau has said that a third vessel was rumoured to be in international waters.

    Canadian immigration officials have detained nine foreign nationals on Thursday, who were found hiding onboard a container ship that arrived at the Port of Montreal from Morocco.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced that Canada will unveil a new law to deter illegal migrants and added that the current laws in the country are not efficient enough to deter human trafficking, which he says "will increase in the years to come, unless we make significant changes to our law, to provide serious deterrents".

    He further warned that attempts to enter Canada through migrant ships were "unacceptable" and added that the government will amend the immigration act to dither illegal immigration.

    In August, officials detained 492 Tamil migrants who arrived on board the MV Sun Sea from Sri Lanka. In 2009, another vessel carrying 76 Tamil asylum seekers reached Columbia.

    newkerala.com

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    Sink the vessels at sea or send them to a neutral 3rd nation for processing. I'm thinking Thailand or Vietnam.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zygote1
    Sink the vessels at sea
    worthy of a red

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    Quote Originally Posted by zygote1 View Post
    Sink the vessels at sea or send them to a neutral 3rd nation for processing. I'm thinking Thailand or Vietnam.

    no' OR' about it, just let the canadian armed forces practice on them , BLOW the filth up !!
    the terrorist scum lost thier agressive war in lovely Sri Lanka ,now they want to pollute the west .

  23. #23
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    one thing is for sure ,

    whilst we have small minds like the above there will never be peace on earth

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mid View Post
    one thing is for sure ,

    whilst we have small minds like the above there will never be peace on earth
    you having a laugh ? these were the same people who started the civil war , which killed, who knows ,100 000 people ?
    they lost and now ,they want a new life in canada , while the sri lankans put flowers on their beloved graves,,
    peace on earth starts with a nice bombing pattern ..

  25. #25
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    your the one having the so called laugh ,

    care to show me just one instance where your suggestion has actually worked ?

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