The Canadian authorities are monitoring a ship with some 300 refugees on board believed to be operated by the LTTE and heading to Australia via Thailand, Canada’s Globe and Mail reported.
According to the report the federal scrutiny of the ship, known as the Sun Sea, is a rare example of Canada's “pushing-borders-out strategy,” a tactic that is meant to prevent a repeat of a massive asylum claim that occurred last fall.
Last October, 77 Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka arrived on the shores of British Columbia in a vessel alleged to have been controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. After being jailed for several weeks in Canada, the claimants were freed pending hearings.
In the interim, federal agents dispatched to foreign shores have been on the lookout for a sister ship run by the same alleged Tamil Tigers smuggling operation reputed to have up to 300 refugees aboard.
This is the Sun Sea, also known as the Harin Panich 19 (HP19), and details about its journey are murky. What is known is that Canadian police and spies have formed partnerships with counterparts in Australia and Southeast Asia to watch out for the ship, now believed to be in the Gulf of Thailand.
The original fear was that the vessel could be bound for Canada, with Tamil asylum seekers looking to take advantage of the country's refugee system. As things stand, there are few more hospitable places in the world. On Wednesday, the Australian newspaper reported “300 asylum seekers on the way.”
Canadian officials speak guardedly about their role in the investigation.
“The government of Canada’s strategic approach with respect to migrant vessels includes efforts abroad that involve stopping illegal migrant-smuggling ships that are destined for Canada at their points of departure,” Lisa Monette, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, told The Globe last month.