Protesters send message to Tamils

Posted by admin on Sep 15th, 2010

By Jennifer Moreau, Burnaby Now September 15, 2010

A pregnant woman from the boat of Tamil migrants was released from Burnaby’s youth prison Monday, following a detention hearing. She is the first adult to be released from the group of nearly 500 migrants who arrived in Esquimalt Aug. 13, after months at sea. Her name cannot be released because of a publication ban, but she is pregnant and has three children. Meanwhile, about 70 demonstrators gathered outside the Burnaby youth prison on Saturday, banging pot and pans in hopes a group of Tamil women and children would hear them from inside the prison walls. “We’re holding a noise demonstration to let the … Tamil women and children know we’re here to support them,” said Nassim Elbardouh, from No One Is Illegal, a refugee and immigrant rights group.

Four hundred and ninety-two men, women and children from Sri Lanka were packed on the MV Sun Sea. All are being held in detention, apart from a handful of unaccompanied minors, who were released to the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Twenty-five women and 44 children are being held at the Burnaby Youth Custody and Services Centre. The children aren’t officially being detained, but they are staying with their mothers or guardians, who are in custody.

“We want to see them be released immediately and be welcomed,” Elbardouh said. “It’s criminalizing asylum seekers, it’s criminalizing refugees, and that is not OK.”

Immigration and Refugee Board spokesperson Paula Faber said the migrants are in the beginning stages of the third round of detention reviews.

The Canada Border Services Agency is arguing the migrants be kept in detention till their identities have been confirmed.

Faber said she has no information on when the women and children can expect to be released, but as long as the people are held in custody, they will get detention reviews

For more on this story, see Jennifer Moreau’s blog, Community Conversations, at
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