09 November 2010
Sri Lanka’s government denounces those fleeing its repression to the West as nothing but economic migrants. Consider then the case of the wealthy gem merchant who has sought asylum in Canada with his family.
Mohamed Razakdeen Aziz is gem merchant who showed up at the US-Canadian border with his family and $85,000 in precious stones, the Toronto Sun reported.
Mr. Aziz sought refugee protection on the basis he was kidnapped twice in Sri Lanka because he was a rich Tamil Muslim businessman. He paid a $250,000 ransom for release after one kidnapping.
“He now works as a security guard in Toronto,” his lawyer, Kumar Sriskanda, said. “He had to leave it all behind.”
Mr. Azis was attending a 2009 gemstone conference in Arizona with his family and seized the opportunity to escape across the border. Canada rejected their asylum claim, but successfully appealed to the federal court which ordered a new hearing.
“I find that the claimant was targeted as part of a large group of business persons who are perceived to be well off,” Justice Douglas Campbell said in his Oct. 28 decision.
“It became obvious that Muslims were openly kidnapped, extorted and those who refused to pay were killed. Many Muslim businessmen were kidnapped and some even left the country for good,” the judge said.
“There is more than a mere possibility that the applicant will be persecuted” if he returns to Sri Lanka,” the judge said.
On the same day as the Canadian judge's ruling on Mr. Aziz's claim, the Sri Lankan military declared its intent to arrest 163 Tamil traders in Jaffna on the charge they had funded the Tamil Tigers, TamilNet reported.
However, according to Jaffna Traders Association, the real motive behind the military's drive is to cripple the prominent Tamil traders in Jaffna and eliminate competion for the Sinhala traders who continue to invade Jaffna with the backing of the military.
The day before the round-up, Army-backed paramilitaries in Jaffna abducted textile traders from Tamil Nadu staying in the lodges in Jaffna town. The traders, who were engaged in business with permits from the Sri Lankan immigration authorities, have not been heard from since.