Why Eelaventhan Should Not Be Deported To Sri Lanka

By Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

With his application for asylum in Canada denied and all appeals against his deportation order exhausted, except for a pre-removal risk assessment process and possibly an application for a “National Interest” exemption, I share here the major concerns I have why former TNA MP, M K Eelaventhan should not be deported to Sri Lanka.

Earlier in April 2014, in an application for judicial review of the findings made by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), the Federal Court agreed with IRB that Mr. Eelaventhan was inadmissible under 34/1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

34. (1) provided that:

A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on security grounds for (a) engaging in an act of espionage or an act of subversion against a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada; (b) engaging in or instigating the subversion by force of any government; (c) engaging in terrorism; (d) being a danger to the security of Canada; (e) engaging in acts of violence that would or might endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada; or (f) being a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe engages, has engaged or will engage in acts referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c). Exception (2) The matters referred to in subsection (1) do not constitute inadmissibility in respect of a permanent resident or a foreign national who satisfies the Minister that their presence in Canada would not be detrimental to the national interest.

The main question centred round the argument that, “the LTTE was sufficiently connected with the TNA such that the membership in the TNA was tantamount to membership in the LTTE.”Eelaventhan and Usha

Pre-removal Risk Assessment of Mr. M K Kanagendran:

In assessing the risks of Mr. M K Kanagendran, (better known and referred to as Mr. Eelaventhan) returning to Sri Lanka under a deportation order, I want to place the following major concerns, for the perusal and consideration of those who will be making that determination – concerns that would no doubt put him at high risk if deported.

  1. The muzzling of his political beliefs, forcing him to compromise his long held aspirations would in effect even kill him, on his deportation, considering his age
  2. The probability of being charged under the 6th Amendment
  3. His being elected a member of parliament of the TGTE (Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam), a banned organisation in Sri Lanka, would put his safety and security at risk if deported
  4. Since torture, arbitrary detention and abductions continue in Sri Lanka even under the new regime of President Maithripala Sirisena , there is every likelihood he would be persecuted and subject to interrogation and torture by the CID, the infamous Criminal Investigation Department, particularly because of his advocacy work against Sri Lanka, including speaking against human rights violations in Sri Lanka and calling for the restoration of the Tamil Home-land, Tamil Eelam

1. The muzzling of his political beliefs, forcing to compromise his long held aspirations would in effect even kill him, considering his age 

Mr. Eelaventhan has been a lifelong activist for the restoration and reconstitution of the Tamil Home-land, Tamil Eelam in the North and East of the island of Sri Lanka. The 6th Amendment to the Republican Constitution of Sri Lanka (the constitution itself was passed without the assent of Tamil MPs), criminalises any discourse inside or outside parliament involving the restoration of Tamil Eelam.

Mr. Eelaventhan’s activism began when he was in his early twenties, when he joined the Federal Party (Tamil Arasu katchchi) in 1952. His activism became more intense in 1956 when the Sinhala Only Act was tabled in Parliament making the Tamil Language redundant and Tamils second class citizens. He was an able assistant to Mr. S J V Chelvanayagam, the leader of the Federal Party and was involved in non-violent “Satyagraha” driven protests against the Bill. After the overwhelming mandate that the Vaddukoddai Resolution of 1976 received, which called for the restoration and reconstitution of the Tamil Home-land, Tamil Eelam, (the 40th anniversary commemoration of which is this year) he became a staunch advocate of Tamil Eelam and has been so ever since. When he became a Member of Parliament, under the national list system, under the TNA (Tamil National Alliance – formed in Oct 2001), despite the 6th amendment he continued agitating for Tamil rights within the limitations of the 6th amendment. When he lost his parliamentary seat, having been replaced by a Muslim representative by the TNA, and the Sri Lankan Government offensive was growing more aggressive, he found it necessary to go abroad and draw the attention of the international community to the Genocide that was being perpetrated against Tamils – A Sri Lankan government offensive that was taking a new dimension in the Tamil Homeland; he needed to inform the world of the sad plight of the Tamil people. He went to South Africa in early January of 2009 and undertook a fast in early April, until he was forced to end it after 9 days due to his deteriorating health.

When the bombing of civilians by the Sri Lankan army got worse, he went to America in the latter part of May and sought asylum in Canada on August 6th 2009.

Deporting him back where he would be muzzled, unable to continue his advocacy work towards the restoration of Tamil Eelam, would affect his health and in effect even kill him, not to mention the likelihood he would be arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1978, for his activism abroad, the very reason for his imprisonment earlier under the said Act in September 1979.

2. The probability of being charged under the 6th Amendment

Mr. Eelaventhan could be charged under the 6th Amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution which provides: “No person shall, directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka,” which if found guilty, could strip him of his civic rights and more.

3. His being elected a member of parliament of the TGTE (Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam), a banned organisation in Sri Lanka, would put his safety and security at risk if deported

The Sri Lankan government under former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa banned many Tamil individuals and Tamil Diaspora organisations including the TGTE – this for their work towards calling for the investigation and prosecution of the Sri Lankan armed forces and the former President himself, for war crimes and for genocide. The new regime under President Maithripala Sirisena later lifted the ban on some but continued the ban on the TGTE.

At the outset Mr. Eelaventhan stood for elections and won a seat in the TGTE parliament representing Canada, TGTE being a political formation that espouses democracy, believes in non-violence, adheres to the laws of the country the members live in and committed to diplomacy towards achieving its two main objectives among other:

  1. Achieving justice and a referral to the International Criminal Court for Mass atrocity crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, rape, torture, abduction, disappearance and genocide of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka by the armed forces and government of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa which still persists under the new regime of President Maithripala Sirisena.
  2. Calling for a UN sponsored Referendum for the people of the North and East and the Eelam Tamil Diaspora to decide on the restoration of an independent Homeland, Tamil Eelam or otherwise.
    Mr. Eelaventhan is actively and peacefully engaged in furthering the above causes through his writings and speeches and through his advocacy work for human rights. It goes without saying his membership of the TGTE would make him an object of persecution if deported.

4. Since torture, arbitrary detention and abductions continue in Sri Lanka even under the new regime of President Maithripala Sirisena , there is every likelihood he would be persecuted and subject to interrogation and torture by the CID, the infamous Criminal Investigation Department, – particularly because of his advocacy work against Sri Lanka, including speaking against human rights violations in Sri Lanka and calling for the restoration of the Tamil Home-land, Tamil Eelam

It’s well known that deported asylum seekers have been subject to torture.

But now rights groups have found that torture still continues unabated in Sri Lanka.

Two rights groups – the South Africa based, International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) and the UK based group, Freedom From Torture have both alleged, “ethnic minority Tamils in Sri Lanka continue to face torture a year after President Maithripala Sirisena came to power promising reform,” saying, “they interviewed victims who said they were arbitrarily detained, tortured or gang raped.” The Freedom From Torture group said a “well-organised machine” continued to torture and repress Tamils and it was not merely a case of a few “rotten apples”.

About Mr. M K Eelaventhan

It’s our belief that Mr. M K Eelaventhan is an inspiration to the victimised and remains a strong voice for voiceless. We are fortunate to have him in our midst. He lives a frugal life but an exemplary life. In many ways he can be compared to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. A highly principled man he has undergone much suffering and made many sacrifices to remain committed to his moral and political beliefs. We believe he is an asset, being able to speak in impeccable English and Tamil and also well read; he is also a prolific writer, a masterful orator and an incredible resource person.

He is surrounded with books and papers on our freedom struggle and that’s his only pre-occupation and reason for living. He sleeps and wakes up with it! Despite his advanced age, he is full of energy, a vegetarian and thank goodness remains healthy. We have never found him to be unwell or a burden on any one.

By his spirituality, appetite for service to others and strong moral convictions, he has endeared himself to people of all walks of life. He has devoted himself to defending the dignity, security, freedom and human rights of the Tamil people. He believes the solution to Tamil Eelam is Tamil Eelam! That sums up his life and purpose!

Conclusion

Sadly Mr. Eelaventhan had exhausted all his appeals and the only thing left is a pre-removal risk assessment process to show why he shouldn’t be deported; and possibly an application for a “National Interest” exemption. I wish to put on record the above major concerns and the fact that whilst Mr. Eelaventhan is being deported, and even while his asylum application was denied, some TNA MPs were coming and going freely in and out of Canada without any security concerns. By this it’s clear that the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing and vice-versa. It’s a great injustice that he has been treated /judged differently.

It’s a travesty of justice Mr. Eelaventhan is being deported for, “being a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe engages, has engaged or will engage in acts of terrorism,” on the determination that, “the LTTE was sufficiently connected with the TNA, such that the membership in the TNA was tantamount to membership in the LTTE.”
It’s preposterous to accuse the TNA of being a member of the LTTE, it shows a total lack of appreciation of what going on in Sri Lanka. No one made that conclusion, not even the Sri Lankan government, it couldn’t have, there was no evidence, period.

Although not condoning the violence, the LTTE itself was an unavoidable response that arose only to defend against state sponsored terrorism.

In fairness the Harper government boycotted CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) held in Sri Lanka during the Rajapksa regime, condemning human rights violations in Sri Lanka and the impeachment of the Chief justice.

It’s a fact that the newly elected Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau has always stood up and defended Tamil asylum seekers in the Canadian Parliament when he was the Immigration Critic for the Liberal Party. See links below. ( here, here, here, here and here )

It is my hope the above serious and valid concerns are persuasive towards stopping forthwith the deportation of Mr. Eelaventhan and granting him asylum and permanent residence in Canada where he feels safe.

*Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah – Senator, TGTE