A fake refugee from Sri Lanka this week explained how he had captained a ship with 492 other swindlers in order to claim “asylum” in Canada—even though he and they had all spent years living in safe third countries and had no reason to “fear for their lives.”
Lesly Jana Emmanuel was speaking during the closing part of his trial under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for his part in organizing the voyage of the MV Sun Sea, which docked to great press publicity in British Columbia in August, 2010.
Emmanuel (unlikely to be his real name) has pleaded not guilty before the British Columbia Supreme Court, as have his fellow accused, Kunarobinson Christhurajah, Nadarajah Mahendran and Thampeernayagam Rajaratnam.
The MV Sun Sea was carrying 492 Sri Lankans: 380 men, 63 women, and 49 children, and was the second ship full of nonwhite invaders to land in the westernmost province in less than a year.
Emmanuel claimed that he had been shot by a member of the Sri Lankan army in 1995—that is, fifteen years before his seaborne invasion of Canada, when he had tried to “run away” from government troops.
He then said his mother had “later” told him she had been asked by an army official if he (Emmanuel) was a member of the “sea branch of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam,”—the so-called “Tamil Tigers” who have fought a separatist war in Sri Lanka for decades.
Emmanuel told the court that this “conversation with his mother led him to believe it could be dangerous for him to return to Sri Lanka.”
Immediately after the shooting, he had therefore left the country and had studied at a marine college in Malaysia, where he had taken up residence.
In late 2009, when he was visiting Thailand on holiday, he said, he had “heard from others attending a local temple” about a ship taking passengers which would be “destined for Canada.”
Emmanuel was told it would cost US $30,000 to get a place on board the ship, and he was able to borrow it from “an uncle,” presumably still in Sri Lanka.
Emmanuel claimed that he thought he was going to be one of the passengers, and boarded the MV Sun Sea in April 2010. He further claimed that the Thai crew had abandoned the ship after a few days, and this he had then taken over captaincy of the boat and sailed to Vietnam, where, early in July, 2010, he set sail to Canada.
All of those onboard made “refugee” claims once landed in Canada, saying that they had fled violence in Sri Lanka because they were Tamils—even though, as Emmanuel testified, they had lived for years in a safe third country and none could actually prove that they had been persecuted.
Eventually all but two of the invaders were sent back to Sri Lanka, and the rest were accepted as “refugees” even though they had flagrantly violated every Canadian immigration law in the book.
The trial continues.