Sri Lanka has taken exception to reports in a section of the Canadian and Australian media identifying as Sri Lankans the “boat people” attempting to enter illegally their respective countries.

A senior government official told The Hindu: “It appears there is no due diligence in ascertaining the origin and nationality of these unfortunate people. Just because some one claims to be a citizen of Sri Lanka that does not make him or her citizen of the country.”

“Given the reality that these people are at the moment located far away from Sri Lanka, Colombo is not in a position to do anything. However, if our missions in Canada and Australians are asked, they would help the authorities in establishing the identities of these persons.”

The state-owned Daily News, in a report, said the “boat people from Sri Lanka” in Indonesian waters who are issuing various threats, including hunger strikes and blowing up their vessel, continue to make headlines in Australia.

The report quoted Australia-based spokesperson for the Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights in Sri Lanka Ranjith Soysa as saying that the Australian government should seriously consider helping Sri Lanka to resettle and rehabilitate the displaced people of all ethnicities so that the “push factors” from Sri Lanka, even for genuine asylum seekers, would be minimal.

“The LTTE strategically places its sympathisers in various countries, including Australia, often exploiting humanitarian sentiments of host nations. Such LTTE operatives across the world have constituted part of its network for raising material and financial support for its campaign of terror in Sri Lanka,” he was quoted as saying.

He argued that Sri Lankans do not have to live any longer with suicide bombings and terror attacks as in some other parts of the world. “The fact that the ‘91civil war’ in Sri Lanka is over is underplayed by the interested groups to create an opportunity to continue their Sri Lanka bashing campaign.”

“There is only one airport with facilities for international flights in the country, where outbound travellers have to pass through immigration and passports checks. How is it they could leave Sri Lanka without fear of revealing their identity, but are now fearful of going back? Or did they leave from Sri Lanka at all?”

Reports from Vancouver said Sri Lankans caught over the weekend by Canada Border Services Agency guards pointed to a man named Abraham Lauhenapessy as the head of a human smuggling ring behind their attempt to enter Canada illegally.

The “Sri Lankans” said they paid up to $ 45,000 per head to Lauhenapessy 97, also known as Captain Bram 97, who has been involved in the human smuggling trade for over 10 years. Captain Bram is also behind the attempt of 254 Tamils to enter Australia illegally. For the Australian attempt, he charged $15,000 a person.

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