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The Toronto Star - Friday, December 27, 1996
By Tanya Talaga, Staff Reporter

Sri Lankan man say he’ll die if son is left behind

A 58-year-old father ordered deported from Canada says he will die if he is forced to leave his son behind.

Thillaiampalam Kanthasamy is a Sri Lankan refugee who has been here for seven years.

A Tamil police constable back home, Kanthasamy fled to Canada after being chased out of his house by armed militants in Kankesanturai, northern Sri Lanka.

He was forced to leave his wife Annadevi, 49, and two daughters Ranjani, 19, and Koneswary, 16.

A gas attendant is Downsview, Kanthasamy has been ordered deported by Canadian immigration authorities.

But his 13-year-old son, Thushyanthan, is allowed to stay.

“If I am taken away I’d have to commit suicide – there is no other way,” said a weeping Kanthasamy, his calloused hands holding his face.

On Oct. 30, an immigration officer sent Kanthasamy a letter saying after his personal circumstances were “carefully reviewed… there are insufficient compelling humanitarian and compassionate considerations” to keep him in the country.

But the refugee division of the immigration and refugee board ruled it is unsafe for the child to return to Sri Lanka, said lawyer Max Berger who is representing the Kanthasamys.

If Thushyanthan returns to Sri Lanka he will be recruited by the rebel group the Tamil Tigers, which enlists boys as young as 10 in their fight against the majority group, the Sinhalese.

Under the United Nations charter, the Grade 8 student qualifies as a convention refugee because of his “race and membership in a particular social group – that as a young Tamil male from the north of Sri Lanka,” wrote Judge Barbara Fraser, of the Refugee Division, in her decision to keep Thushyanthan here.

Fraser also ruled that the best interest of the child “would be served being here with his father in Canada.”

Kanthasamy said on his return to the island he would be “arrested at the airport and I would be retained and tortured.”

A civil war has been raging in the country for 13 years and thousands have died.

Berger has appealed to the Federal Court, but he said he isn’t sure they will offer a remedy.

“This is a mindless decision made by a faceless bureaucrat and I think the average Canadian would be shocked by the notion of a father and son being wrenched apart this way,” said Berger, who represents many of the 100,000 Tamil refugees who have fled to Canada in the last few years.

Kanthasamy said he has a brother who has been living here since 1987 and who works in a plastics factory. But his brother is unable to care for his son.


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