Sunday November 17, 2019
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Sri Lankan refugees in India were stopped from trying to board boat to Australia

The Tamil Nadu government runs 109 special camps, housing around 60,000 refugees

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Sri Lankan Refugees. Image source: Wikipedia
  • Smugglers charge 100,000 rupees ($1502) for a one-way journey to Australia, according to investigating officials
  • Over 100,000 Sri Lankans are estimated to have sought refuge in southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu
  • Most refugees have refused to go back to Sri Lanka saying the government there has not come up with a clear plan for their reintegration 

CHENNAI, India- Refugee activists have called on the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to ease restrictions on Sri Lankan refugees living in guarded camps after police intercepted a group who had escaped and were attempting to migrate to Australia.

Campaigners said the case showed how desperate Sri Lankan refugees were to flee India where they have been confined to closed camps for years and have no right to work.

“They are desperate people looking for a dignified life,” said P Pugalenthi, a lawyer who represents refugees in Chennai.

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“They are practically imprisoned in camps with no freedom of movement. They need permission to step out of the camps. They cannot buy property, start a business or even legally have access to a mobile phone.”

Map of Sri Lanka. Image source: Wikipedia
Tamils distribution in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. Map of Sri Lanka. Image source: Wikipedia

Over 100,000 Sri Lankans are estimated to have sought refuge in southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu, during the conflict between separatist rebels and the Sri Lankan army which lasted a quarter of a century and ended in 2009.

The Tamil Nadu government runs 109 special camps, housing around 60,000 refugees. They receive an allowance, food and education. Some have been in the camps for two decades and many were born there.

The refugees say if the Indian authorities won’t grant them citizenship they should at least be given the right of free movement in the country.

On Thursday June 2, officials intercepted a truck in Tiruvallur near Chennai where they found 33 refugees missing from four government-run camps. The refugees, including six women and six children, were planning to take a boat to Australia, police said.

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“The journey they were going to embark on is very dangerous. They are just being duped by agents, who have been arrested and will be booked under both trafficking laws and the national security act,” coastal security group head Sylendra Babu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Police said there had been four or five similar attempts by refugees to board boats to Australia in the last three years.

There have been reports of several suicides in the camps this year as well as protests over alleged harassment by authorities.

“They don’t see a future in India with all the existing restrictions,” said V Suresh of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties rights organization, a human rights organization.

“Most of them are sitting in camps with no work permits or means to upgrade their skills. Living here has robbed them of their self-respect and they want to escape.”

Smugglers charge 100,000 rupees ($1502) for a one-way journey to Australia, according to investigating officials.

India has hosted many refugees from neighboring countries over the years but it has no law to define refugees and the status of the Sri Lankan refugees remains ambiguous.

The U.N. refugee agency, which has a limited mandate in India, does not have access to the camps in Tamil Nadu.

Most refugees have refused to go back to Sri Lanka saying the government there has not come up with a clear plan for their reintegration. Many lost everything in the war and cannot see how they would restart their lives. (Reuters)

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  • Real_Peace

    Thanks Newsgram for this revelation!.

    Let me see if I understand this- According to the Lawyer:
    “They are practically imprisoned in camps with no freedom of movement. They need permission to step out of the camps. They cannot buy property, start a business or even legally have access to a mobile phone.”

    So, why not let them leave if they want to, at their own risk?
    Sounds like: Damned if they do Damned if they don’t!!

  • Real_Peace
  • Aparna Gupta

    India should have a proper law regarding refugees to ease the problem. Moreover, authorities should be polite with refugees instead of harassing them.

Next Story

Digital Media Makes it Tougher for White Collar Criminals To Get a Job

The study involved white collar criminals after release from prison. Seventeen participants, aged 30-65, were questioned and their answers analysed

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Digital Media
Because of Digital Media coverage, white collar criminals end up with having a "personal digital criminal legacy" . Pixabay

The archive, search and sharing features of Digital Media ensure that the online identity of those convicted of white collar crimes, such as fraud and bribery is dominated by their crime long after a sentence is completed, making it much tougher for them to get jobs and reintegrate with society, says a study.

The “labels” attached to them on digital media may have long-term negative effect on their rehabilitation, said the study published in the Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice.

“Historically it has been assumed that white collar crime was un-newsworthy and offenders were unlikely to be confronted by the negative impacts of adverse publicity,” said lead author David Shepherd from the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth in England.

“Consequently, there has been very little research in this field. We wanted to assess this perception and explore the accounts of some white collar criminals who have experienced the attention of the press,” Shepherd said.

Because of online media coverage, white collar criminals end up with having a “personal digital criminal legacy” (PDCL), said the study.

This sticks with them, disrupting their lives and the lives of their families, long after the reported crimes.

The study involved white collar criminals after release from prison. Seventeen participants, aged 30-65, were questioned and their answers analysed.

Overall the group became less economically productive after release from prison. Two remained long-term unemployed and five could only find work in the gig economy where fewer questions are asked.

Digital Media
The archive, search and sharing features of Digital Media ensure that the online identity of those convicted of white collar crimes, such as fraud and bribery is dominated by their crime long after a sentence is completed, making it much tougher for them to get jobs and reintegrate with society, says a study. Pixabay

The association of stymied employment opportunities, a permanent criminalised digital identity and Google was keenly felt by all the participants.

“I was all over the Internet, all over the BBC news, so if I typed in my details on Google you will find everything about me,” Tony, an employee convicted of occupational fraud, said.

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Frank, a businessman convicted of corporate fraud, said: “You can’t erase Google. And the problem is the media portrayal of what went on. It wasn’t the truth and it’s rarely the truth. But that’s what people read, and if they read it, they believe it.” (IANS)