Necklace makes Tamil woman suspect in Canada

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

TORONTO - Canadian authorities say that a Sri Lankan Tamil woman who entered the country aboard the smuggling ship MV Sun Sea in August is linked to the Tamil Tigers. The human smuggling ship had brought 492 Sri Lankan Tamils to Vancouver from Thailand after allegedly charging up to $50,000 from each of them.

Since the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) fears that the Tamil Tigers might sneak into the country in the guise of asylum seekers, it has detained the passengers for screening them for their terror links. So far, 300 of them have been released after screening. But now a Tamil woman, who is in custody along with her children, has been identified as a security risk because of her alleged links to the Tamil Tigers.

The Canada Border Services Agency has told the immigration and refugee board - which decides these cases - that the woman is married to a Tamil Tiger and that she worked in a Sri Lankan library funded by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which was defeated by the Sri Lankan forces last year.

The border agency officials say their suspicion about this woman increased as she is wearing a distinct necklace, called a ‘Tiger thali’, which only LTTE members give to their brides on their wedding day.

“She is in possession of a Tamil thali that is believed to be given only to LTTE members on their wedding day. Information appears to suggest that the specific thali that she has is only given to the LTTE members, and is not a generic thali that solemnizes all marriages,” Jennifer Friberg, of the Canada Border Services Agency, has reportedly told the refugee board.

According to security officials, when they questioned the woman she gave vague replies to their queries.

The refugee board judge allowed the security agencies to keep the woman detained till her Tamil Tigers links are verified.

But a Canadian lawyer representing the woman countered this by asking, “Where’s the evidence that (the library where the woman worked) was funded by the LTTE? Where’s the evidence that this Tamil thali is used by members of the LTTE?”

When contacted, Sri Lankan Tamils told IANS that they have never heard about this so-called ‘Tamil thali.’ “To this day, I have never heard that there is something like a Tamil thali,” said a Toronto-based Sri Lankan Tamil requesting anonymity.

Canada is home to the largest Sri Lankan Tamil community outside the island nation. The 300,000-strong community is concentrated around the Toronto area. Canada banned the LTTE in 2006 after reports that the outfit was using the country to raise funds.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at

Filed under: Immigration, World

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