Vancouver, Jan 5(ANI): A Sri Lankan migrant, who was among the 76 young Tamils who paid smugglers to take them to Canada on a decrepit freighter, has claimed that they are routinely threatened both by government officials and rebel separatists in their homeland, and expressed dismay at being branded as 'terrorists' in Canada.
A 32-year-old man, who can not be identified due to publication ban imposed by the Immigration and Refugee Board, also claimed that his house was ransacked and was unlawfully arrested, yanked off a Colombo street in broad daylight by uniformed men.
The man, like most of the recently released migrants, talked of the deteriorating living conditions in Sri Lanka, and said that fleeing by boat was the only option for escape, as catching a plane to a country like Canada would require a visa and a visit to the Canadian consul.
"I had no choice but to go. Otherwise I would die in my country. Leaving Sri Lanka was one of the hardest things I did. I am a qualified person. I had a good job, good wages," The Globe and Mail quoted the migrant, as saying.
He also described the gruelling 42-day high-seas journey and described his dismay at arriving in Canada only to be branded a potential terrorist and jailed for nearly three months.
He said that he boarded a small fishing boat, and the trip was stormy and the migrants had only rice and noodles to eat.
He brought stacks of documents and letters of recommendation, and believed his entry to Canada would be relatively painless, instead he and the others were arrested and taken to a Vancouver-area detention centre.
"It was upsetting. I was shocked. We didn't have our freedom," the migrant said.
All of the 76 migrants have made refugee claims, but Canadian officials believe that some of them have links to terrorism.
However, the migrants have reiterated that they have no ties with the Tamil Tigers and were not particularly political. (ANI)