Troubled Waters: Corruption and Human Trafficking in Post-war Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy Herald Sun

Introduction

Australia has recently been dealing with an upsurge of asylum seekers who have traveled by boat from elsewhere in Asia. The Jakarta Globe notes that, “While most boats originate in Indonesia, there has been a recent spike in attempted crossings from Sri Lanka.” In addition, over 250 Sri Lankans have been detained after having tried to leave the country illegally by boat.[1]

The trafficking of people should be a concern for the State, especially in light of so many incidents being reported over the past few months.

Points of Departure

Through its interviews, TSA has discovered three points of departure: Udappu (Puttalam), Vettilaikkerni (Jaffna) and Salli (Trincomalee), all of which are Tamil areas. Regardless of where they depart from, most boats eventually go through Trincomalee Harbor. Some interviewees have made the distinction between “points of assembly” and “points of departure.”

Salli has repeatedly been cited as the principal point of assembly. Here meetings about the process are held, other logistical matters are dealt with and transactions actually take place. Again, the vast majority of people fleeing have gone through Trincomalee Harbor. It has been mentioned that it is easier to travel through Trincomalee because the water is deeper there.

The Military’s Presence

Some people have said that it is curious that those coordinating these criminal activities have been able to avoid detection by State security personnel. After all, most people are departing from ports located in the country’s North and East. Significantly, Navy camps are located near all three points of departure.[2] These are places where the military has a strong presence. Based on the ubiquity of military personnel residing near the points of departure, it is extremely unlikely that some military personnel have not been involved. (Dispassionate readers are encouraged to draw their own conclusions).

Furthermore, all boats in Trincomalee must go through Trincomalee Harbor since other areas nearby are too difficult to pass through. Navy personnel in Trincomalee had to have noticed these boats.

Aside from suggestions that the military is connected to these illegal activities, community members have voiced concerns about links to certain criminal groups operating in Sri Lanka. More specifically, people have said that one member of the ruling regime is linked to human trafficking in Trincomalee (the name of this individual is commonly used in the area). They have suggested that that individual must be connected to these specific human-trafficking operations, which appear to be coordinated by a single group.

Further research by TSA has confirmed some of these suspicions.[3]

The Process[4]

The current price of a voyage to Australia is 800,000 Sri Lankan Rupees per person.[5] Asylum seekers are required to pay half that amount before leaving the island. Yet, traffickers are not only accepting money; they have also suggested, and even encouraged, that community members hand over their land deeds and permits if they do not have enough cash to travel. It is worth noting that the majority of them are from socioeconomically marginalized groups.

In addition, TSA has confirmed reports that traffickers are requiring that asylum seekers provide a copy of their birth certificate before departing. People are being asked to sign the back of those documents and also to include a short note that mentions the day they are leaving Sri Lanka. Then traffickers collect those forms.

There are three types of boats and people leave in batches of 15, 20 or 50, depending on the size of the boat being used at the point of departure.

Community members have reported that people are being trained to operate the boat from its point of departure to international waters. Upon reaching the international maritime boundary, asylum seekers then board a larger ship and head to Australia.

Community members have also reported that Navy personnel have been escorting asylum seekers to international waters. (This would explain why some boats get caught, while many others are allowed to pass).

Sadly, the prospect of asylum would appeal to many ex-combatants in post-war Sri Lanka. It has been reported that several ex-combatants have been approached about immigrating illegally shortly after they had been released from Protective Accommodation and Rehabilitation Centres (PARCs).

From an Interviewee       

During its interviews with one community member in Trincomalee, TSA was able to obtain the following additional information. Please note that these are all direct quotations:

  • “The Navy are taking people to a place called Salli in Trincomalee.”
  • “The Navy has been helping direct boats to international waters.”
  • “One of the people will be trained to operate the boat. To me it makes sense to get an ex-combatant to do it.”
  • “You have to contact a person from Trincomalee to make all the arrangements; they’re the ones who know how to arrange the logistics.”
  • “With the Navy’s assistance, they’re reaching international waters and then they get on a different ship.”
  • “Nobody knows whether you’ll be arrested, or reach your destination or come back to Sri Lanka.”
  • “They won’t even tell you how many days it takes to reach your destination.”
  • “Right now, you cannot really see young men in Puttulam, Chilaw or Udappu. Most have gone away.”
  • “The Navy is sending people out to tackle terrorism; that’s why this is happening. The irony here is, when we reach Australia, we are registering as terrorists. The only way you’ll get asylum in Australia is by saying that you are an ex-combatant.”
  • “The traffickers are removing the names of those leaving from voter lists. I just know it. They’re losing their right to vote. People know that this is happening.”
  • “Approximately 13,000 people have left since this operation started. Out of that, 3,000 are from Trincomalee. Almost all are Tamils.”

This interviewee also noted that a small business enterprise in Jaffna has lost five out of twenty-two employees as a result of this trafficking.

Analysis

These recent developments raise a number of questions, some of which are still difficult to answer. For starters, the timing of this influx in illegal migration may have a political component. After all, voter registration has been in full swing since early June. July 15 had been the intended deadline to collect all registration forms.[6] In spite of the announced deadline, registration forms are still being collected by the government in some locations.[7] A few community members have voiced suspicions over what has recently transpired. There is a palpable concern that traffickers have been taking copies of peoples’ birth certificates in order to cross peoples’ names off voter registration lists. Why else would human traffickers need such documents? And why would they want people to write a short note announcing the day they have left Sri Lanka?

Why have traffickers not been asking for other assets? Sure, items like televisions might be too cumbersome, but what about jewelry? Why are land deeds and permits the only assets that traffickers will accept besides money? (Interestingly, land deeds from Udappu are comparatively more valuable).

Who exactly is operating these ships when they leave Sri Lanka? (The LTTE’s Sea Tigers did have control over the North and East for a considerable period of time). Is it possible that Sea Tigers have been recruited to pilot these ships to international waters? Perhaps more intriguingly, would Sea Tigers be doing this voluntarily? Or would they have been forced to comply with requests from the Sri Lanka Navy?

Additional reporting on this subject will invariably come in the coming weeks, but a few things are clear. This process obviously reduces Sri Lanka’s Tamil population. It also reduces the voting population of Sri Lankan Tamils. And, by taking peoples’ land deeds and permits, the opportunity is ripe for the settlement of other people in historically Tamil areas. The fact that State security personnel are complicit in this process deserves both domestic and international opprobrium.

Conclusion

The flight of ethnic Tamils from the island is nothing new, as thousands fled during the war’s final phases. Nevertheless, the dramatic rise in illegal migration to Australia is a disturbing trend.[8] Travelling under these circumstances is inherently risky. Yet, those who leave are undoubtedly in search of a better, more prosperous and more peaceful future.

An additional, long-lasting complication arises when those wanting to leave are compelled to pay their transit fees with lands deeds and permits instead of money. The ramifications of such an exchange are profound and worrisome. Frankly, these activities have been too well-planned for them to have been disparate, unconnected incidents. The reports TSA has received are too consistent, the process too linear.

So, who is guiding this process?

And what do these developments say about the country’s progress towards national reconciliation? For those living in the predominantly Tamil North and East, what does all of this say about peoples’ quality of life in post-war Sri Lanka?

The mainstream media’s coverage of this leaves much to be desired. There is no question that state actors have a hand in these illegal activities. Like other recent examples of government corruption, the question is not: Is corruption taking place? The most salient questions of the hour are the following: Who is pulling the strings behind the scenes? Does this illegal behavior go to the highest levels of power?

If the arrest of journalists, the passage of heinous legislation against media freedom, the severe beating of prisoners, and a death threat from a senior official were not enough, this is another shameful mark on the government’s résumé of June-July 2012.

This most recent development is an additional reminder that the country’s institutions continue to deteriorate under the administration of the present regime. Sri Lankans of all stripes should be appalled.

As an absolute minimum, the nation’s citizens deserve more from their law enforcement and security authorities. It is their job to curb criminal activity, not play a part in it.


[2] Please refer to Annex I for more information.

[3] TSA has identified the recent developments in Sri Lanka as human trafficking (as opposed to human smuggling) because what has recently transpired involves deception, the abuse of power, exploitation and ulterior motives, all of which are currently being propagated by certain state employees, among others. This is not just about economics, financial transactions or “material benefits.” There is much more to this story.

[4] TSA interviews with community members in Colombo and Trincomalee, 15-17 July 2012.

[5] The voyage used to cost between 600,000-700,000 Sri Lankan Rupees, but the price has recently increased.

[7] TSA interviews with Grama Sevakas, 16-17 July 2012.

  • Lankan Thinker

    It seems highly dubious to link the human trafficking activity to the government on the basis of quotations from just one person amongst some (unknown!) sample of people interviewed about this. Questions that immediately spring to mind:

    1. How is this person able to estimate that 13000 people have been trafficked out of SL?
    2. How do they know that 3000 are from Trinco?

    Using the same ‘analysis’ method used by TSA I could conclude that the only way this person has such detailed statistics is that he/she is heavily involved in the trafficking operation! Of course, this is as unsubstantiated as the allegations being made in this article.

    Others will make up their own minds, but above article does not convince me that “There is no question that state actors have a hand in these illegal activities.” It is certainly a possibility, but there are a lot more questions that need to be asked (and answered!) before reaching that conclusion.

    I would point out that the above article *does* prompt me to read future writings of The Social Architects with an even more skeptical frame of mind!

    • Phil Collins

      I drew the inference that those statistics did come from a person who was heavily involved in the trafficking.

      This article is (obviously) going to generate tons of controversy. I do think it’s odd that the government seems to be having troubling cracking down on the trafficking, given the fact that there are a lot of Navy/Army people in these areas.

  • http://Www.palermoprotocol.com David Lohan

    This is not human trafficking, since the people are not being moved for the purpose of their exploitation. This is human smuggling.

    http://www.state.gov/m/ds/hstcenter/90434.htm

  • Pingo

    A very disturbing report.

    Hats off to TSA, great investigative work, waiting to see the rest of the research.

  • Harriet Mansell

    I would like to reiterate the comment left by David Lohan – the fundamental mis-representation in this article is that the authors are referring to human smuggling, not human trafficking. If there are cases of human trafficking within the smuggling process they are referring to, where people are deceived for the purposes of exploitation, then the issue is trafficking, but this, having read the article does not figure in the composition of the article. I suggest that due to the incorrect usage of the term and the omission of the actual issue of human trafficking (within an article of it’s own title), that the authors investigate human trafficking in post-war Sri Lanka and report their findings.

  • James Chance

    Brilliant article – and utterly plausible for anyone who recognises a) how tightly controlled the north and east are by the military, b) Gotabaya’s and the JHU’s and almost certainly Mahinda’s beliefs about the Sinhala nature of Sri Lanka and and c) about the need to weaken Tamil nationalist claims on the north/east as the Tamil homeland. If there were a free press in Sri Lanka, they’d be covering this story, too. Does any Sri Lanka publication dare do the follow-up research to either corroborate or disprove the claims and surmises this article proposes? Will anyone in the Candian or Australian press dare come and do some real research in Sri Lanka to explore these issues?

    • rajivmw

      This article is brilliant? Really? How so? Because it accords your own biases and prejudices? You yourself agree it needs to be corroborated – because in trademark TSA style, there’s precious little actual evidence presented despite all the impressive footnoting. But it seems that you’re quite ready to believe that the Sri Lankan government intends to ship tens of thousands of Tamils down under without anybody noticing. Perhaps then the conspiracy involves Australia too. Maybe they actually want all these poor folk over to work as slave labour in secret unobtainium mines. Maybe I could write a report citing unnamed sources who say ‘people know this is happening’. Would that be brilliant too?

  • alex f

    genocide?

  • The Social Architects

    This is an initial response to questions/concerns which have been raised in this article.

    First, quotations about government involvement in trafficking did not just come from one person; they came from many people. (TSA did not include quotations from other interviewees because that would have resulted in an extremely long article. Besides, almost all interviewees were saying the same things). They were the highlights of the interview.

    And, yes, it is reasonable to assume that if someone knew precise statistics about ongoing human trafficking, then that person would be involved. When pressed, this particular interviewee maintained that these statistics were accurate, but did not want to elaborate as to how he had obtained such information. (Again, reasonable readers are welcome to draw their own conclusions). TSA’s own research also shows that people in many villages (especially young men) are leaving. TSA is currently conducting a random sample survey on this for future study.

    Additionally, TSA maintains that what has happened (and continues to happen) in Sri Lanka constitutes human trafficking, not human smuggling. For a more detailed explanation of why, please refer to footnote #3 of this article. Groundviews also recently published a piece about this subject which may be helpful. It can be read here:

    http://groundviews.org/2012/07/18/growing-concern-over-human-smudging-and-trafficking-in-sri-lanka-interview-with-ilo/

    Please keep in mind that the ILO representative’s comments about these recent developments (specifically, that they are examples of human smuggling) appear to have been based upon information which was available at that time. The media’s reporting of this story has been underwhelming. And virtually all reporting has viewed this situation through the prism of financial transactions and/or other “material benefits.” Based on research and interviews, TSA feels this is inaccurate).

    Lastly, TSA may do another write-up on this story; that remains to be seen. For the time being, TSA felt it was paramount to make this information publicly available, even though some readers may find it unpalatable. It is TSA’s sincere hope that this will lead to more nuanced and thoughtful reporting (from other outlets) on the subject. TSA looks forward to more thoughtful, constructive and civil debate in the coming days.

    • Harriet Mansell

      I am pleased to see TSA state that human trafficking takes place in Sri Lanka, in addition to human smuggling. The primary concern of this article as set out in the first line relates to matters around an ‘upsurge of asylum seekers’, thus issue of human smuggling. What TSA appear to recognise in their response is that trafficking takes place, but this elemnent has not been dealt with in this article. The article potrays Sri Lankans (primarily Tamil’s) volunteering themselves for the crossing to Australia but with no reference to the exploitation synonymous with trafficking. The assumption therefore lies that these people are voluntarily heading to Australia via military assisted boats and subsequently seeking asylum as ex-combatants. With TSA’s acknowledgement and referral to this as human trafficking, I consider the distinction should be made and additional reporting given to those who have been trafficked – people coerced or deceived into exploitation. In reference to the article mentioned in TSA’s response, again I agree – it is important to make the distinction and not confuse the two. Since you have stated that human trafficking takes place in Sri Lanka, yet not covered the actual issue of human trafficking, the subject matter is therefore misleading. It is only by inference and omission that TSA have covered human trafficking, contrary to the title. Since the importance of investigating this area is so great as a most basic violation of human rights, I would consider it important to investigate further and see a follow up piece more specifically on the area noted in the headline.

    • Lankan Thinker

      Can you tell us how many people were interviewed with a breakdown of where they were based? Couldn’t you put a more detailed account (including your interviews) in another document and share it as a link here? This would allow those readers interested in probing deeper to verify your analysis.

      Thank you for clarifying that the person who gave the quotes you chose to highlight us unable/unwilling to substantiate his claims with an explanation of how he know so much about the numbers.

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    #SriLanka military spks tells BBC: No naval collaboration with organisers of illegal migration. Troops & police collect intell 2 curtail it.

    Via https://twitter.com/cfhaviland/status/225951090993143809

  • Minority

    Make money and change the demography of the North by sending people to Australia. What an innovative way to solve the ethnic issue. Home made solution?

  • palani sharma

    This is fishy government control the entire coast and still boats are leaving from government control coast is not that easy may be a big government guy behind is behind all these.

  • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    I have read this report with concern and endorse the position that what is happening is largely human smuggling. There is an overwhelming desire among many to leave the island hook by crook, in search of greener pastures. This is a major problem that should engage the attention of the government and the international community. The desire to migrate cannot be curtailed by detterence alone. The root causes have to be identified and tackled. However, those who are enriching themselves from these human smuggling operations should be identified and punished.

    Further, the accusation that those close to the government or its defence services are involved in the said human smuggling operations is worrying. Is this a repeat episode of the waves of Tamil asylum seekers, who were taken out of the Katunayake airport in the 1980-1990′s by Tamil Travel agents, with the connivance of elements in the governments of the day? Are the same Tamil elements, who are yet exploiting their contacts with the government, involved now? It is a very lucrative business and I suspect that there is some sort of link between the previous phase of air-smuggling and the present phase of sea-smuggling. Many in the Diaspora, who benefitted from the first phase, I am sure can identify the common links.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • Alex F

    The only good news is we are in a new-era now. Most of the people in this SL government will likely be tried and convicted of a number of crimes in their life-time.

  • Navin

    It makes no sense for Australia to grant asylum to someone and at the same time try to actively prevent him/her from leaving SL by asking GoSL to turn people around in mid sea. Conversely, if it wants GoSL to turn people around, then they must be bogus asylum seekers and then what it is doing by granting asylum to them is a charade.

    It seems Australians want to be good Samaritans while using GoSL to do their dirty work.

  • Candidly

    In an article like this one would have expected the authors to say more precisely which Sri Lankan laws they believe are being broken with these voyages. Is it really illegal to leave Sri Lanka in this way? I don’t know, but organising such trips maybe illegal, but it’s probably not a serious offence. Is it illegal to leave any country in the world without government permission? Probably only North Korea! But perhaps an international lawyer could put us right on this.

    There are strict laws in most countries governing the conditions under which non-citizens may enter, but probably the laws governing the conditions under which people may leave are much more vague. Therefore this issue is primarily one for Australia, not Sri Lanka, in my opinion.

    Human beings have migrated to other countries ever since we evolved and will continue to do so into the future. Our ancestors all came, originally, from somewhere else, Africa probably. We probably have a genetic predisposition to wander like this, especially when we are young. There doesn’t have to be anything wrong with the place where we are now for us to want to go somewhere else. Often it’s just curiosity, or the spirit of adventure, or ambition.

  • http://thuppai.wordpress.com Michael Roberts

    The SA survey opens new ground though several unsubstantiated conclusions are presented in a definitive voice. It strikes me that the investigators are also landlubbers. Though one myself, let me note considerations that indicate significant omissions and potential mis-readings that reduce the strength of the article
    A. May-September is the calm season on the eastern coast in contrast with the spell when the north eastern monsoon envelops the area
    B. If small boats with 15-20 went out as feeders to the bigger boats/trawlers destined for Australia it would be feasible to launch these at umpteen spots on the eastern coast under cover of darkness during this phase of the tides.
    C. Along most of Sri Lanka’s coastline there are numerous fishing boat and trawlers in operation so naval personnel at sea must be able to discern that a boat is not on a normal fishing mission.
    These ‘simple’ considerations call into question the reasoning that underpins the TSA argument: namely, that in the light of considerable ‘militarization” in the north east (a favourite hobby horse of Tamil activists of all shades) the military could easily monitor the coast, ergo they are complicit in the smuggling.
    Thus the TSA combine display both (A) intellectual poverty and (B) ideological prejudice. The analytical failure A above is that of office-bound personnel, individuals cloistered in urban dwellings without their feet set within the pragmatics of field, swamp and surf.
    That said, corruption and complicity from state functionaries, both civil and security personnel, in the processes of smuggling is a strong possibility –after all the IDP camps at Menik Farm leaked like a sieve in mid-2009 because of assistance from functionaries (and two Ministers if grapevine tale is valid) in return for cash. A Tamil informant laughingly told me that it was akin to package tours: so much to get to Colombo, so much to get to India…… If true then, why not now one can propose in question form.

    Again while young Tamils may have particular political reasons for their outmigration desires that do not apply to other Lankans, foreigners reading the TSA essay and its commentary should place the debate in wider context. The economic imperatives that inspire outmigration cannot be comprehended without a broader survey. Young Muslims and Sinhalese are also hustling and bustling –and busting –to get abroad. The recent stampede by young males to get application forms for official labour migration to Korea is just one illustration. Research in the Negombo area would probably unearth a longish history of chain migration n to Italy in particular, promoted by stories from Italy, chain networks linking earlier migrants to new prospects and monetary flows from kinsfolk abroad, etc etc. In the late 1990s and early 2000s the illegal journeys were by trawler all the way to Italy –no less dangerous/facile than journeys to Australia [and certainly not as inevitably dangerous as Aussie people think because well-equipped Lankan trawlers (with GPS?) regularly fish off NW Australia and such places as the Seychelles and Mauritius].

    A modern trawler is a body of capital. Well-heeled entrepreneurs in human smuggling would want to use their boats again and again since the loss of a boat is no small matter. The shonky entrepreneurs may try to make a killing by using an older boat that can be sunk or plead distress to draw aid from Australian ships; and by packing it heavy with migrants. Both these statements, I stress, are conjectures.

    My memo as a whole is a land lubber comment, albeit a land lubber born and bred beside the sea.. Thus, one needs to draw in a local Lankan seafarer’s expertise on such issues. Maybe even a foreign yachtsman sojourning in Galle harbour could inject some ‘ground’ expertise to this debate. However, for anyone to think that military personnel could easily discern boats with migrants seems CRASS to me.

    The people (whether Tamil-Lankan, Sinhala-Lankan. Muslim-Lankan, Hazzara-Afghan , Pakistani or Indian) who venture forth in this clandestine manner from Sri Lanka are not being trafficked in the manner of prostitute chains and child-slaves. One can surmise that in their thinking they are exploiting illegal paths towards self-advancement. That some are ill-informed about the risks of sea-voyage and far too insouciant about their future prospects abroad is probable. However, as other bloggers have stressed, they are not being trafficked in the sense of bonded labour.

    As closing note – a fluid kind of note — there is yet another surmise that can be essayed with greater certainty: few of these would-be asylum-seekers are aware that they are going to be sea sick. Sea-sickness is gut-wrenching, bloody awful. I am a land lubber who has experienced it once, way back in the Bay of Biscay. It remains indelible memory, an experience to be avoided at all costs. Landlubbers note.

    NB: This memo was drafted on Thursday last after the Harriet Mansell blog comment – but I am on the road in UK and had no internet access till today Sunday.

    • Happy Heathen

      If I may add to Michael’s insightful analysis from down under, Uberto Pasolini’s mocumentary ‘Machan’ highlights the greatest illegal migration operation ever to take place in this century.
      What’s more, one of the ‘film starts’ went ‘missing’ in Germany while the film is being shot.
      So there is a long history of Sri Lankans of all persuasions seeking greener pastures for plethora of reasons.
      What TSA has done is to dumb down a complex situation, thinking that one day the Fox News might pick up the story! Intellectual bankruptcy indeed!

  • http://thuppahi.wordpress.com Michael Roberts

    My memo has now been posted in THUPPAHI; but also been supplemented by a select and partial bibliography of my previous articles [not considered by TSA} and other assorted items. One positive in cyber-world media and citizen journalism is that some guys (gender neutral) read assiduously –unlike most print Journalists to judge from their commentary.
    http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/boat-people-to-australia-a-comment-on-the-social-architects-survey-and-twist-on-the-tale/

  • http://thuppahi.wordpress.com Michael Roberts

    ALSO see
    Bernardo Brown’s brief note on migration networks in the Negombo region, 1980s-2012……..NOW POSTED AT http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/bernardo-browns-brief-note-on-migration-networks-in-the-negombo-region-1980s-2012/

  • The Social Architects

    TSA was not suggesting that the military should be able to monitor the coast superbly. However, the three areas which are referenced in TSA’s first article have been consistently mentioned in interviews as points of departure. (These are not secret departure areas in Jaffna and Puttalam; they are the only places that are specifically mentioned in virtually every interview).

    Out of curiosity, TSA recently travelled to a prominent departure area on on the border between Jaffna and Kilinochchi. While TSA did not travel directly to Vettilaikkerni (because that would have raised suspicions), we did travel to Chundikulum Birds Sanctuary, a site near Vettilaikkerni that is open to a certain type of tourist in search of a very unique experience. (NB: We were also near Kaddaikadu, an adjacent village which has also been cited as a point of departure).

    The adventure was… interesting, along the byway from the A9 to Chundikulum (in a span of less than 20 kilometres), TSA counted 17 military checkpoints, 3 “mini-camps” and 3 major (i.e. large) military camps. We also inadvertently witnessed several hundred (perhaps more) Navy personnel parading in the street with Navy flags. Upon arriving near the water, we ran into another checkpoint.

    Now, while it is clear the military cannot stop every boat that gets through. It is also clear that this strip of land has been consistently cited as a place where people are leaving from AND that this is common knowledge in Jaffna and Kilinochchi. (If it’s common knowledge amongst young men in Jaffna/Kilinochchi, then it would be very unlikely that military intelligence was not aware of these particular locations).

    Regarding the point about TSA “dumbing down” a complex situation. Is illegal migration complicated? Sure. But the fact of the matter is that this story was/is NOT being adequately covered by the Sri Lankan media. THIS WAS A PIECE OF BREAKING NEWS. TSA’s article was (obviously) not meant to be a comprehensive discourse on the subject of illegal migration, but that doesn’t mean that the article proves “intellectual bankruptcy.” Again, it’s an initial article, not a PhD dissertation. The involvement of military personnel in these activities has been mentioned in over ten interviews. Relatedly, the reports of people recently having to sign and date copies of birth certificates had also not been mentioned by the mainstream media. Do readers really believe that that’s an insignificant point?

    In addition, some people may very well be travelling on the Eastern coast b/c it’s “the calm season.” That would make sense. However, the subject of the weather has not been mentioned during interviews, including one interview w/someone actively working to recruit/transport people. On the other hand, the word “elections” has come up several times w/out TSA interviewers having to mention that beforehand. (Of course there can be more than one factor, but it seems highly unlikely that the weather is the principal (or even a major) factor in this particular case).

    Moreover the incredible rise (a 700% increase, according to one source) of people reaching Australia by boat compared to the previous year would also suggest that this recent trend is about more than weather:

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/australia-caught-in-sri-lanka-refugee-crossfire-20120724-22nkc.html

    If people doubt the veracity of some of the information which has been conveyed directly to TSA during interviews, we encourage people to do their own research in these areas. What we would not encourage is to read the newspapers in Colombo where the same superficial story is regurgitated almost on a daily basis.

    *TSA continues to gather information about these developments and may publish something more comprehensive later this month.

    • Happy Heathen

      Quoting an Australian source further demonstrates the intellectual bankruptcy of TAS.

      Do you know that Australia have at least granted refugee status to six Human Smugglers? The whole refugee debate in Australia has bee hijacked by the bleeding hearts with stories fed by sections of Tamil Diaspora.

      Do you know the story of Alex Kuhendrarajah?

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    A SENIOR Sri Lankan government official is suspected by Australian authorities of being personally “complicit” in the people-smuggling trade, directly undermining Canberra’s attempts to stop the surge in asylum-seeker boats.

    The Australian can reveal that Australia’s intelligence agencies have identified the official, who has a high profile and is known to be close to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The agencies believe he is responsible for authorising numerous boats in the past 10 months, fuelling the surge of asylum-seekers from Sri Lanka that has threatened to overwhelm Australia’s detention system.

    The intelligence assessments about the figure, whom The Australian has chosen not to identify, are widely known at senior levels of the Gillard government.

    It is understood options were canvassed as to how to handle the allegations before Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s visit to Sri Lanka in December. Senator Carr never raised the matter with the Sri Lankan government, and Canberra has been pleased with the sharp reduction in boats from the nation in recent weeks.

    The allegations against the official drew a flat denial from the Sri Lankan government, with Colombo’s senior envoy to Australia, Bandula Jayasekara, describing them yesterday as “unbelievable, ridiculous, and mischievous”.

    While official corruption is a common feature of the people-smuggling industry across the world, the involvement of such a senior member of the government would appear to be unprecedented. The assessment inside the Australian government is that the official is “complicit” in people-smuggling, posing a serious obstacle to Australia’s attempts to stop the flow of boats from Sri Lanka.

    Australia’s intelligence agencies believe it would be impossible for so many asylum-seeker boats to leave the island’s shores without the individual’s direct involvement.

    Via http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/blow-to-asylum-battle-as-intelligence-links-sri-lankan-official-to-smugglers/story-fn9hm1gu-1226566319961