There Is No Law That  Prevents Tamil Canadians Raising Funds To Provide Humanitarian Assistance

There Is No Law That  Prevents Tamil Canadians Raising Funds To Provide Humanitarian Assistance

(A reply to  OUTLOOK)

This refers to your story filed by Daniel Lak based in Toronto titled “Taming Tigers” and sub-titled. “Toronto moves to suppress activities supporting the LTTE” (Outlook – June 20/2000). It is amazing to see how easily an ill-informed correspondent from Toronto could fool the editor of Outlook.

The story he filed for the Outlook is more or less the same story Daniel Lak  filed to the BBC.  It has now become an obsession with the Indian news media to demonise the LTTE and its supporters by publishing half-truths and down right lies with no regard to facts. Your correspondent who filed this news story is either ignorant or has allowed himself to be used as a willing tool by the racist Sri Lankan government’s propaganda machinery. I am disappointed that Outlook published this story without first validating it.

In the first place your sub-title “Toronto moves to suppress activities supporting the LTTE” is mis-leading.  I wish to make it clear that there are no moves by any institution, government or anyone else  “to suppress activities supporting the LTTE.” The reason being that these activities are perfectly legal in a country like Canada which is free and democratic. Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms of everyone subject only to reasonable limits. Perhaps you are judging Canada by your own third-world standards where freedom of association and free speech are expensive commodities! To enlighten you further, let me reproduce Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, which spells out the following fundamental freedoms:

  1. Every one has the following fundamental freedoms; 
  • freedom of conscience and religion;
  • freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including the freedom of the press and the media communications;
  • freedom of peaceful assembly; and
  • freedom of association.

Your correspondent’s assertion that the dinner hosted by FACT and attended by Finance Minister Paul Martin and Minister for International Coorporation Maria Minna is for fund raising  is simply not true. The dinner was to celebrate the Tamil New Year, a cultural and social event. You cannot raise funds when the dinner at the five star hotel cost Cdn$60 per plate. Added to this there were about 50 unpaid guests as well. Let it be known that  FACT is not in the business of fund raising, except one Annual Dinner held in aid of the Tamil Refugees Organization.

You assert that “ many Western politicians believe … ethnic or the minority votes make the difference in an election. As such they tend to sympathise with the political aspirations and grievances of minorities and ethnic groups living in their constituencies…. Politicians have become increasingly reluctant to support tougher actions against the LTTE for fear that this would impinge on their local electoral support base.”

But this assertion by the so called Australian counter-terrorism expert Paul Cross contradicts your earlier observation that Opposition MP Chuck Stahl told the Canadian House of Commons that “CSIS, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the US State Department and our own diplomats all say that the fund-raising continues apace…to help fund terrorist organisations there. What was the (finance) minister thinking about?”

Why did this MP not “sympathise with the political aspirations and grievances of minorities and ethnic groups living in their constituencies…”? Why did he attack FACT, which represents the political aspirations and grievances of minorities? The short answer is Chuck Stahl represents a rightwing conservative party, which is anti-immigrant. The dinner hosted by FACT was a golden opportunity for Chuck Stahl to go after Finance Minister Paul Martin who represents a party, which is relatively pro-immigrant.

Now what is the electoral support base FACT can command when the Tamil population is less than 0.1% (150,000) out of a total population of 30 million? Or even if you compare the Tamil electoral strength in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) of 4 million- it is still less than ½%!  So all this harangue about politicians overlooking the fund raising activities of Tamils is nonsense. The truth is there is no law that  prevents Tamil Canadians raising funds to provide humanitarian assistance. If any law is enacted in future – it will infringe the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to that extent it will be null and void in law.

Perhaps I should quote what Her Excellency The High Commissioner for Canada Ruth Frances Archibald told a National Conference on the “Dimensions of the Ethnic Crisis in Sri Lanka” held in Colombo.  She said “that her government was unable to proscribe the LTTE, as they had no proof that the funds collected in Canada were for terrorist activities.

While admitting that there are many organisations collecting funds in Canada, Archibald said that different countries deal with the situation differently. In the US they deal with such groups through proscribing such an organisation, but under our constitution it is difficult to do so.

The Canadian Charter of Rights protects the freedom of association and unless one is proven guilty, there is little that the government could do to ban such groups, she said.

As for the claim  that “Recently, two public rallies organised by Canadian expatriate Tamil groups were cancelled after a newspaper, the National Post, carried pictures of posters and web sites that showed the gatherings were to celebrate LTTE military success….”  -this too is false.  You vainly  tried to put a spin to this incident to convey the impression that the rallies were cancelled by the government or its law enforcement agencies because they were unlawful.

On the contrary these rallies were cancelled because the owners of the buildings where the rallies are to take place withdrew permission at the last minute due to terror tactics by the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Ottawa, local chauvinistic Sinhalese organizations and the National Post.  But for your information both these rallies were subsequently held (one on the same day) at different venues very successfully.

In fact the cancellation of the Toronto rally was a blessing in disguise since the rally held at Queen’s Park attracted a record crowd of 20,000 according to the local daily newspaper The Toronto Sun! This figure is four-thousand more than the expected number the previous week! It also means  atleast one member of each Tamil household attended the rally.  Not only did people attended the rally they also donated funds liberally much to the discomfiture of the National Post!

Your correspondent‘s claim that school authorities have since banned meetings after the National Post published pictures of rallies in support of the LTTE at local schools is just flight of fantasy bordering lunacy!  Once again your correspondent is exhibiting ignorance and he simply swallowed what appeared in the National Post without any independent verification as to its authenticity. How Outlook and Daniel Lak came to be fooled or taken for a ride with such tales, which have no basis in fact or law is mind-boggling. Every community living in Canada have every right to depict their history and culture and present that in art form in school halls (not inside class rooms) hired for that purpose.  Canadian government at federal as well as at provincial level encourage the promotion of such multi-culturism as a matter of policy.

All this talk about “criminal gangs with links to LTTE are creating a climate of fear among the expatriate Tamil community” is Goebelsian propaganda and your correspondent is a poor victim of such false propaganda. He has swallowed all the lies dished out by the National Post, which is conducting a one-man crusade to tarnish the image of the Tamil Canadian community with ulterior motives. So is the bombastic claim “CSIS believes the gangs raise money by selling drugs, forging passports, smuggling and extortion.”  These are spurious allegations and “believes” by CSIS does not amount to facts! I challenge the Outlook, Daniel Lak and CSIS to produce the necessary proof to substantiate these allegations.

Your claim “ In addition to around 1,55,000 legal Lankan Tamil migrants, it’s believed that tens of thousands of illegal ‘aliens’ from Jaffna and North-eastern Sri Lanka have come to Canada” is a supreme insult to the intelligence of the law enforcement agencies and the integrity of the Immigration process in Canada. It is frightening to observe the extent to which a news magazine will descend to manipulate , magnify and distort facts!  Such crude fabrication of news without any regard to accuracy and truth  will only help to destroy the credentials of Outlook as an independent and responsible media.

In regard to the deportation of Manickavasagam Suresh your correspondent is proving the old adage “little learning is dangerous”. The National Post true to form tried to make a mountain out of a molehill over the deportation of Suresh and your correspondent Daniel Lak simply fell for it hook, line and sinker!

Manickavasagam Suresh’s  deportation for his alleged fund raising activities and his membership in the LTTE is entirely due to the fact that he belongs to a class of people excluded under the Immigration process.  In other words he has no status under the Immigration Act. The story will be different if he is a citizen of Canada or if he is even a permanent resident.   Let me re-iterate the relevant facts to put the record straight.

Suresh Manickavasagar was served with a rarely used certificate under Section 40.1 of the Immigration Act because Suresh  (who was accepted as a Convention refugee in 1991) belonged to a class of persons who are inadmissible into Canada because of threat to national security. The Counsel for the Minister during the course of reasonableness proceedings conceded in Court that there are no allegations of criminal misconduct or criminal activity against Mr.Suresh; there are no allegations that he engaged in terrorism in Sri Lanka; there are no allegations of any known procurement by him of arms, ammunition, weapons or material of military applications in Canada nor was he involved in shipping such materials from Canada.

Suresh Manickavasagam’s deportation arises solely due to his status as a Convention refugee.  The CSIS deliberately withheld his security clearance and thus deprived his eligibility for landed immigrant status.

Your correspondent referred to the decision of the Federal Appeal Court, but why was he silent on the subsequent Supreme Court ruling? Here is the record-breaking decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, the very top court, that has allowed to proceed with his appeal to decide –

  • Whether the principles of a free and democratic society allow sending a Convention refugee to a country which may torture him”; and
  • Whether a person can be deported solely on the basis of a lawful political activity in support of a national liberation movement. (emphasis mine)

Your correspondent has deliberately suppressed the ruling of the Supreme Court either because he is ignorant or it does not serve his purpose!  The Supreme Court refers to LTTE as a NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT,  which is exactly  what it is! As a National Liberation Movement, the LTTE is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and Protocols. This fact is not altered by what The Outlook, The National Post or any others might think.

My request to Outlook – please get your facts right on anything you want to comment on or pass judgement. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by the National Post or the Sri Lankan government’s propaganda mill.


June 20/2000

The Editor
Outlook

Delhi

Dear Sir,

This refers to your story filed by Daniel Lak based in Toronto titled “Taming Tigers” and sub-titled. “Toronto moves to suppress activities supporting the LTTE” (Outlook – June 20/2000). It is amazing to see how easily an ill-informed correspondent from Toronto could fool the editor of Outlook.

The story he filed for the Outlook is more or less the same story Daniel Lak  filed to the BBC.  It has now become an obsession with the Indian news media to demonise the LTTE and its supporters by publishing half-truths and down right lies with no regard to facts. Your correspondent who filed this news story is either ignorant or has allowed himself to be used as a willing tool by the racist Sri Lankan government’s propaganda machinery. I am disappointed that Outlook published this story without first validating it.

In the first place your sub-title “Toronto moves to suppress activities supporting the LTTE” is mis-leading.  I wish to make it clear that there are no moves by any institution, government or anyone else  “to suppress activities supporting the LTTE.” The reason being that these activities are perfectly legal in a country like Canada which is free and democratic. Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms of everyone subject only to reasonable limits. Perhaps you are judging Canada by your own third-world standards where freedom of association and free speech are expensive commodities! To enlighten you further, let me reproduce Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, which spells out the following fundamental freedoms:

  1. Every one has the following fundamental freedoms;
  • freedom of conscience and religion;
  • freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including the freedom of the press and the media communications;
  • freedom of peaceful assembly; and
  • freedom of association.

Your correspondent’s assertion that the dinner hosted by FACT and attended by Finance Minister Paul Martin and Minister for International Coorporation Maria Minna is for fund raising  is simply not true. The dinner was to celebrate the Tamil New Year, a cultural and social event. You cannot raise funds when the dinner at the five star hotel cost Cdn$60 per plate. Added to this there were about 50 unpaid guests as well. Let it be known that  FACT is not in the business of fund raising, except one Annual Dinner held in aid of the Tamil Refugees Organization.

You assert that “ many Western politicians believe … ethnic or the minority votes make the difference in an election. As such they tend to sympathise with the political aspirations and grievances of minorities and ethnic groups living in their constituencies…. Politicians have become increasingly reluctant to support tougher actions against the LTTE for fear that this would impinge on their local electoral support base.”

But this assertion by the so called Australian counter-terrorism expert Paul Cross contradicts your earlier observation that Opposition MP Chuck Stahl told the Canadian House of Commons that “CSIS, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the US State Department and our own diplomats all say that the fund-raising continues apace…to help fund terrorist organisations there. What was the (finance) minister thinking about?”

Why did this MP not “sympathise with the political aspirations and grievances of minorities and ethnic groups living in their constituencies…”? Why did he attack FACT, which represents the political aspirations and grievances of minorities? The short answer is Chuck Stahl represents a rightwing conservative party, which is anti-immigrant. The dinner hosted by FACT was a golden opportunity for Chuck Stahl to go after Finance Minister Paul Martin who represents a party, which is relatively pro-immigrant.

Now what is the electoral support base FACT can command when the Tamil population is less than 0.1% (150,000) out of a total population of 30 million? Or even if you compare the Tamil electoral strength in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) of 4 million- it is still less than ½%!  So all this harangue about politicians overlooking the fund raising activities of Tamils is nonsense. The truth is there is no law that  prevents Tamil Canadians raising funds to provide humanitarian assistance. If any law is enacted in future – it will infringe the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to that extent it will be null and void in law.

Perhaps I should quote what Her Excellency The High Commissioner for Canada Ruth Frances Archibald told a National Conference on the “Dimensions of the Ethnic Crisis in Sri Lanka” held in Colombo.  She said “that her government was unable to proscribe the LTTE, as they had no proof that the funds collected in Canada were for terrorist activities.

While admitting that there are many organisations collecting funds in Canada, Archibald said that different countries deal with the situation differently. In the US they deal with such groups through proscribing such an organisation, but under our constitution it is difficult to do so.

The Canadian Charter of Rights protects the freedom of association and unless one is proven guilty, there is little that the government could do to ban such groups, she said.”

As for the claim  that “Recently, two public rallies organised by Canadian expatriate Tamil groups were cancelled after a newspaper, the National Post, carried pictures of posters and web sites that showed the gatherings were to celebrate LTTE military success….”  -this too is false.  You vainly  tried to put a spin to this incident to convey the impression that the rallies were cancelled by the government or its law enforcement agencies because they were unlawful.

On the contrary these rallies were cancelled because the owners of the buildings where the rallies are to take place withdrew permission at the last minute due to terror tactics by the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Ottawa, local chauvinistic Sinhalese organizations and the National Post.  But for your information both these rallies were subsequently held (one on the same day) at different venues very successfully.

In fact the cancellation of the Toronto rally was a blessing in disguise since the rally held at Queen’s Park attracted a record crowd of 20,000 according to the local daily newspaper The Toronto Sun! This figure is four-thousand more than the expected number the previous week! It also means  atleast one member of each Tamil household attended the rally.  Not only did people attended the rally they also donated funds liberally much to the discomfiture of the National Post!

Your correspondent‘s claim that school authorities have since banned meetings after the National Post published pictures of rallies in support of the LTTE at local schools is just flight of fantasy bordering lunacy!  Once again your correspondent is exhibiting ignorance and he simply swallowed what appeared in the National Post without any independent verification as to its authenticity. How Outlook and Daniel Lak came to be fooled or taken for a ride with such tales, which have no basis in fact or law is mind-boggling. Every community living in Canada have every right to depict their history and culture and present that in art form in school halls (not inside class rooms) hired for that purpose.  Canadian government at federal as well as at provincial level encourage the promotion of such multi-culturism as a matter of policy.

All this talk about “criminal gangs with links to LTTE are creating a climate of fear among the expatriate Tamil community” is Goebelsian propaganda and your correspondent is a poor victim of such false propaganda. He has swallowed all the lies dished out by the National Post, which is conducting a one-man crusade to tarnish the image of the Tamil Canadian community with ulterior motives. So is the bombastic claim “CSIS believes the gangs raise money by selling drugs, forging passports, smuggling and extortion.”  These are spurious allegations and “believes” by CSIS does not amount to facts! I challenge the Outlook, Daniel Lak and CSIS to produce the necessary proof to substantiate these allegations.

Your claim “ In addition to around 1,55,000 legal Lankan Tamil migrants, it’s believed that tens of thousands of illegal ‘aliens’ from Jaffna and North-eastern Sri Lanka have come to Canada” is a supreme insult to the intelligence of the law enforcement agencies and the integrity of the Immigration process in Canada. It is frightening to observe the extent to which a news magazine will descend to manipulate , magnify and distort facts!  Such crude fabrication of news without any regard to accuracy and truth  will only help to destroy the credentials of Outlook as an independent and responsible media.

In regard to the deportation of Manickavasagam Suresh your correspondent is proving the old adage “little learning is dangerous”. The National Post true to form tried to make a mountain out of a molehill over the deportation of Suresh and your correspondent Daniel Lak simply fell for it hook, line and sinker!

Manickavasagam Suresh’s  deportation for his alleged fund raising activities and his membership in the LTTE is entirely due to the fact that he belongs to a class of people excluded under the Immigration process.  In other words he has no status under the Immigration Act. The story will be different if he is a citizen of Canada or if he is even a permanent resident.   Let me re-iterate the relevant facts to put the record straight.

Suresh Manickavasagar was served with a rarely used certificate under Section 40.1 of the Immigration Act because Suresh  (who was accepted as a Convention refugee in 1991) belonged to a class of persons who are inadmissible into Canada because of threat to national security. The Counsel for the Minister during the course of reasonableness proceedings conceded in Court that there are no allegations of criminal misconduct or criminal activity against Mr.Suresh; there are no allegations that he engaged in terrorism in Sri Lanka; there are no allegations of any known procurement by him of arms, ammunition, weapons or material of military applications in Canada nor was he involved in shipping such materials from Canada.

Suresh Manickavasagam’s deportation arises solely due to his status as a Convention refugee.  The CSIS deliberately withheld his security clearance and thus deprived his eligibility for landed immigrant status.

Your correspondent referred to the decision of the Federal Appeal Court, but why was he silent on the subsequent Supreme Court ruling? Here is the record-breaking decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, the very top court, that has allowed to proceed with his appeal to decide –

  • Whether the principles of a free and democratic society allow sending a Convention refugee to a country which may torture him”; and
  • Whether a person can be deported solely on the basis of a lawful political activity in support of a national liberation movement. (emphasis mine)

Your correspondent has deliberately suppressed the ruling of the Supreme Court either because he is ignorant or it does not serve his purpose!  The Supreme Court refers to LTTE as a NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT,  which is exactly  what it is! As a National Liberation Movement, the LTTE is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and Protocols. This fact is not altered by what The Outlook, The National Post or any others might think.

My request to Outlook – please get your facts right on anything you want to comment on or pass judgement. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by the National Post or the Sri Lankan government’s propaganda mill.

 

 

Yours truly

 

 

 

 

Rajan Thangavelu

About editor 1081 Articles
Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist

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