Write-In Campaign for 76 Tamil Refugees!

Posted by admin on Nov 2nd, 2009

Raise your voices to demand the immediate release of the 76 detainees and their right to stay in Canada in peace and dignity. Take a few minutes to make a phone call, write an email or letter or send a fax to Minister Kenney, your member of parliament and the media to let them know that we are not going to sit quietly and let the government detain, imprison and deport people.

Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
P. 613-992-2235; F. 613-992-1920
P. 403-225-3480. F. 403-225-3504
E Minister at cic.gc.ca AND kennej at parl.gc.ca
325 East Block, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
1168 137 Ave SE. Calgary, AB T2J 6T6

Peter Van Loan, Minister
Constituency Office
T  1-877-738-3748; T: 613-996-7752
F  905-898-4600; F  613-992-8351
E  vanlop1@parl.gc.ca
45 Grist Mill Road, Unit 10, Holland Landing, ON L9N1M7
Room 209-S, Centre Block, Ottawa, ON K1A0A6

To find out who your MP is and where to write them go to:


Minister Kenney,

Regarding: 76 Migrants arriving aboard Ocean Lady

I am writing regarding the situation of the seventy six migrants who arrived in British Columbia in mid-October aboard the ship Ocean Lady. Due to the high-profile nature of these cases, I am sure that you are aware that the majority of these men remain in detention in the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre.

I first became aware of this case through the widespread media coverage of the Ocean Lady’s arrival on BC shores. They have survived a long and arduous journey in the hopes that the Canadian state will fully comply with its international refugee and human rights law obligations. In September 2009 (before the UN Human Rights Council) the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has publicly condemned the practice of unnecessary immigration-related detention and demanded that irregular migrants must be protected against arbitrary deprivation of liberty and inhuman treatment. I urge you to live up to international obligations for fair and compassionate care for asylum seekers, and to immediately release all of them from detention.

In reading about the current human rights situation in Sri Lanka with regards to the Tamil population, I found that according to Human Rights Watch there are currently over 264,000 displaced civilians forcibly confined to detention camps where conditions are horrific due to overcrowding, lack of facilities, and lack of medical care. In addition, there are several reported cases of Tamil individuals’ enforced disappearances – being taken into custody without regard to Sri Lankan laws, and without notifying any of their family members, as well as reports of extra-judicial killings. To me, this is a glaringly clear case of ethnically Tamil persons in Sri Lanka having a well-founded fear of persecution and thus being classified as convention refugees in Canada. This is supported by Citizenship and Immigration Canada itself, whose records which show that 93% of Sri Lankan refugee claims have been granted this year.

I would also like to urge the Canadian government to refrain from contacting and working with Sri Lankan enforcement agencies due to the serious risk of increased threat to the families of these men still living in Sri Lanka. Any information obtained through the Sri Lankan government should also be viewed as information gathered from the very government responsible for the widespread human rights violations of Tamils thus carrying a heavy risk of resulting in prejudicial outcomes for these refugee claimants. Continued RCMP presence in the detention centers is not

There is a great deal of existing community and family support in BC and across Canada. In support of these communities it is important that when these men are released that there be no bond requirement in order to lessen the financial burden for caring community and family members. These are people seeking a safer future.


The undersigned


Many online stories have comments sections – if you read those comments, then write on of your own and make a difference in public discourse! All major news outlets are covering this situation so letters to the editor(keep them short – around 100 words – to ensure printing) are very helpful.

All letters must include the name, mailing address and daytime phone number of the writer; state “Letter to the Editor” in the subject line; and content should be in the body of the email and not as an attachment.

Globe and Mail: letters@globeandmail.com
Vancouver Sun: sunletters@png.canwest.com
Vancouver Province: provletters@png.canwest.com
24 Hours: news@sunmedia.ca
Metro News: http://www.metronews.ca/Vancouver/comment/lettereditor
National Post: letters@nationalpost.com
Georgia Straight: letters@straight.com
Toronto Star: lettertoed@thestar.ca

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