Peter Julian concerned over human rights, access to services, support and translators

BURNABY – New Democrat MP Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster) is concerned about the human rights situation of the recent 492 Tamil asylum-seekers currently detained in British Columbia.

“I had an opportunity to meet with the refugees in two of the three detention centres and it is clear that they have inadequate access to support and services, such as translators,” said Julian. “Canadians of Tamil origin have contributed greatly to Canada, and the Tamil community in Canada has offered to provide a full range of professional support services free of charge to the refugees. Why hasn't the government allowed them to provide this support?” asked Julian.

Since the arrival of the Tamil refugees earlier this month, Julian has met with the leadership of the Canadian Tamil Congress and lawyers from the Immigration and Refugee Board. He has also participated in meetings (including a town hall) with the community and activists.

“During my visit to the detention centre, I learned that the refugees have not yet had access to religious services or spiritual guidance. Even convicted prisoners have an opportunity to meet with spiritual leaders – why haven't these Tamils been provided that right? I am growing more and more concerned about their treatment, as are many Canadians.”

Rathika Sitsabaiesan, the NDP’s candidate for Scarborough-Rouge River, stressed that the Conservative government must treat asylum-seekers as asylum-seekers and not criminals.

“Canada has an obligation to treat these Tamils with compassion and fairness,” said Sitsabaiesan. “We must uphold their human rights and provide safe, humanitarian conditions. We must also place the women and children into the supportive Tamil-Canadian community to provide them with security and a safe environment, instead of waiting and languishing in the detention centres.”

- 30 -

For more information, please contact:
Rupinder Kaur, press secretary: 613-222-5048 or