Why our Refugee system needs reform....
He could be the poster boy for reform...
When a migrant smuggling ship bound for Australia was seized in Indonesian waters last month, a 27-year-old with a thick beard stepped forward to speak for the boat people.
He said he was Alex and that the more than 200 asylum seekers aboard the wooden cargo ship were ethnic Tamils fleeing Sri Lanka, but it was the way he said it that stood out: He spoke in a distinctly Canadian accent.
In Toronto, police watched the news footage coming out of Indonesia on YouTube and instantly recognized "Alex." He was Sanjeev Kuhendrarajah. And he wasn't a businessman with an MBA degree, as he had told reporters, he was a Toronto gang member.
Yesterday, Kuhendrarajah admitted he had been deported from Canada in 2003 for violent crimes but denied allegations he was a human smuggler and asked to be brought to Australia.
"The fact that I lived in Canada for a period of time and was removed from Canada has no bearing whatsoever on my claim or the claim of the other 250 people for asylum," he said in a statement.
While the Canadian government has been investigating the identities of 76 Sri Lankans who arrived in British Columbia waters on Oct. 17 (one of whom is wanted by Sri Lanka for terrorism), Australia has been trying to figure out how to handle similar migrant ships headed its way. At Australia's request, the Indonesian Navy intercepted a boatload of 255 Sri Lankans early last month and brought them to Merak, in western Java. Australia is reluctant to admit the asylum seekers, and the discovery that a convicted Toronto gang member is on board may only make matters worse.
Making the case for the boat people, Kuhendrarajah has been a passionate spokesman for the cause of Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil minority, saying they face "genocide in Sri Lanka. Just the fact that you are Tamil, you will face genocide sooner or later. There will be an annihilation of Tamils in Sri Lanka. It will happen."
But during his 16 years in Canada, Kuhendrarajah likewise participated in a campaign of violence against ethnic Tamils as a member of AK Kannan, a Tamil street gang behind a rash of drive-by shootings in Toronto.