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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
Harassed Tamils flee homeland to go West
"Fearing the midnight knock, ethnic Tamils are fleeing the Sri Lankan capital to western countries -- an exodus that defies immigration laws. ``At least 200 to 300 people, including families, go West each month and about 90 per cent through illegal ways,'' said noted political commentator Sivaram.
With Western governments tightening immigration procedures, desperate immigrants even put their lives at risk. Recently 15 Tamil immigrants were discovered trying to sneak into Britain on the roof of a truck carrying frozen potato chips from France.
British Home Office Junior Minister Mike O'Brien was quoted in newspapers there saying the refugees could easily have met an icy death and were lucky to be alive. But there is no guarantee that Colombo is any safer for the island's minority community. ``It is a disadvantage to be Tamil nowadays. You are an instant target for harassment by security authorities,'' Sivaram said. ``We are treated like second-class citizens in our own country,'' says Maheshwary Velautham, a Tamil lawyer and secretary of the Forum for Human Dignity.
``In Colombo, young Tamils are picked up from cinemas, hostels and other places and kept in local police stations until they are cleared,'' says Velautham who also runs a free legal service for hapless Tamils..." ( The Indian Express 8 January 1998)