Asian Canadian Labour Alliance Shows Solidarity with Tamil Refugees

The Asian Canadian Labour Alliance (Ontario Chapter) strongly supports the right to status for the recently arrived Tamil refugees. These Tamil refugees like many others have arrived on our shores to escape the horrors of a civil war, as well as surviving countless crimes against humanity as committed by the Sri Lankan state. They deserve every right to residency as has been provided to others. ACLA deplores the rampant racist and xenophobic response that has accompanied the arrival of this most recent group of migrants. Spurred by a Federal Government that has scapegoated migrants and immigrants implemented a series of draconian immigration reforms that criminalize communities , we strongly urge labour unions, community groups and the general public to counteract the hysteria that is resonating in numerous quarters across Canada. These are not criminals, nor are they human smugglers; they are in search of starting a new life. As the refugees so eloquently state themselves:
“we have undergone severe hardships with very little or no access to basic necessities, such as food, water, sleeping space, medicine and sanitary facilities. We have traveled for almost four months with much suffering and pain. We have come here, to this country Canada, to protect ourselves and our family members from the murders, disappearances and violence that still exist in our native country.”
We urge compassion for the numerous communities who continue to arrive on our shores. Our history is filled with numerous other communities who while arriving to Canada faced a backlash from ‘Canadians’ of European descent in the past, the same descendants of immigrants from previous generations.  Whether they arrived today on the MV Sun Sea, the Ocean Lady, to the Komagata Maru, or other ships that brought migrants from South Asia and China, a consistent theme of exclusion has persisted with the arrival of numerous communities.  The important historical lesson of tolerance, restraint and civility has not been reserved for racialized communities.  Instead they have been met with resistance, hostility and hatred.
History books attribute the resistance to migrants due to mob mentality, an unwillingness to accept others something that has happened in the past never to be repeated. However, as we currently grapple with the latest arrivals,  ACLA views today’s’ events as not an exception to the Canadian state’s practices but part in parcel of the same racist and xenophobic immigration laws that denies admission to countless people daily. Coupled with trade policies that favour the ravaging of the natural resources of the Global South, the protectionism that is being exhibited by numerous commentators who are demanding the deportation of these Tamil migrants must be reminded they have arrived on our shores because of a dual Canadian Foreign Policy which has been silent on genocide while loudly advocating for the liberalizing of Sri Lankan markets to foreign investors.  
While we urge compassion for the Tamil migrants, we demand justice, justice in the face of repressive immigration laws that deny residency and divides communities into arbitrary and divisive categories. We demand justice against the practices of neo liberalism and economic restructuring which has resulted in the privatization, downloading of services and the loss of livelihood of thousands of people in Sri Lanka; We demand justice for all those who suffered from the ravages of war, and the repressive violent practices of the Sri Lankan government which has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands.

Justice for Suresh


The Asian Canadian Labour Alliance  (ACLA) echoes the sentiments of numerous community organizations that have raised their concerns regarding the extradition process against Mr. Suresh Sriskandarajah.  ACLA strongly opposes the efforts by the Canadian judiciary and our elected representatives to extradite Mr. Sriskandarajah to the United States. In the current climate where individuals, groups and communities have faced an unprecedented affront from the Federal Government, the actions undertaken by the Harper government in this particular case reinforces the criminalization that has been undertaken against particular racialized communities.

Our concern reaches beyond the scope of the cries for justice in this specific case to the wider discriminatory pattern how arbitrary anti-terrorist laws have been enacted on individuals and communities thus denying these individuals rights and liberties on both sides of the border. In a time period where numerous individuals have been unfairly targeted by both Canadian and American officials, ACLA cautions against any action that leads to Mr. Sriskandarahah becoming another victim in a long line of men and women who have been unfairly accused of terrorist activity.

In all accounts Mr. Sriskandarajah has shown an unyielding devotion and passion to the rebuilding of Sri Lanka, specifically areas devastated by the Tsunami of 2006, a disaster that resulted in the deaths of thousands of individuals and economic damages amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. From the information provided to our organization it seems that his individual action has benefited countless people who were impacted by this catastrophe. Where on one side Canada lauds the efforts of individuals who undertake humanitarian efforts overseas, rather than persecute him, every effort should be made to laud his extraordinary contributions for the betterment of humanity.  ACLA reiterates the calls for justice for Suresh; that Mr. Sriskandarajah should not be extradited to the United States and also that all charges against him should be dropped.