Mississauga man found criminally inadmissible to Canada for alleged Tamil Tigers connections
Canadian immigration tried for decades to deport Manickavasagam Suresh as a terrorist fundraiser
TORONTO, October 2015 – After two decades of removal attempts, the Canadian Federal Court has ordered the deportation of a Mississauga resident reportedly sent by the Sri Lankan guerrilla group known as the Tamil Tigers to run an organization alleged to be a front for terrorist activity.
Since being arrested in Toronto in 1995, 60 year-old Manickavasagam Suresh has been the target of multiple deportation efforts. After a longstanding history in the courts, his case resurfaced last month after Suresh applied to the Federal Court on October 5 to overturn a ruling by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). Suresh had received an IRB decision on September 17 deeming him criminally inadmissible to Canada.
According to official documents, the IRB found Suresh inadmissible under sections of Canadian immigration law that permit individuals to be deported for belonging to terrorist groups or otherwise being involved in terrorism. In Suresh’s application, his legal representatives indicated their intention to refute the IRB’s findings that he was “engaged” and “complicit” in terrorist activity.
The charges against Suresh stemmed from his role at the head of a Toronto-based non-profit organization called the World Tamil Movement (WTM). The IRB ruling depended on allegations that Suresh had been given control of the WTM by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and that the organization had “raised significant funds” for them. The RCMP labeled the WTM a “front organization” for the Sri Lankan guerillas.
Suresh’s 1995 arrest had the approval of Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government. Upholding the decision, the Federal Court of Appeal stated, “Those who freely choose to raise funds to sustain terrorist organizations bear the same guilt and responsibility as those who actually carry out terrorist acts.”
Suresh was to be deported, but the Supreme Court overturned the order in 2002. The Court ruled that his alleged security threat to Canada had to be weighed against his likelihood of facing torture if returned to Sri Lanka.
Since then, Suresh has been residing and working in Mississauga as a computer engineer. A National Post article in 2005 reported that he had been living a quiet life. For years, it seemed as though he was safe from deportation, but the new case renewed the official efforts to have him removed from the country.
Speaking on behalf of the IRB, Anna Pape declined either to confirm or deny the details of Suresh’s case. The reasons for approving his deportation further remain unclear as the IRB’s official explanation of the ruling has yet to be filed in court.
Political changes in Sri Lanka
Suresh’s home country has changed significantly in the two decades since he was first arrested in Canada. Sri Lanka elected its new president Maithripala Sirisena in January of this year. Sirisena is largely perceived as being more open to reforms than the previous president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who quashed the Tamil Tigers in 2009 in a devastating military offensive that raised controversy for its undisclosed number of civilian casualties.
An investigative effort by the RCMP called Project Osaluki led to the dismantling of the World Tamil Movement. The project had unearthed evidence that the WTM transported millions of dollars to the Sri Lankan guerilla forces. In 2008, Canadian authorities added the organization to their list of terrorist entities.
According to the website of Public Safety Canada website, “The leadership of the WTM acts at the direction of the LTTE and has been instrumental in fundraising in Canada on behalf of the LTTE. WTM representatives canvas for donations amongst the Canadian Tamil population, and have been involved in acts of intimidation and extortion to secure funds.”
Connections to the Tamil Tiger movement have led to deportation efforts against other Sri Lankan nationals as well as Suresh. In 2012, Canada Border Services Agency revealed its request for the Immigration and Refugee Board to file a deportation order against an unnamed Sri Lankan refugee who was allegedly linked to terrorist activities.
Dissident political involvement is only one of the reasons that a visitor, resident, or immigrant can be deported or denied entry to the country. You may read more on our website about other activities that can render foreign nationals vulnerable to charges of criminal inadmissibility to Canada.