Sri Lankan asylum-seekers deserve hearings
By James McDonald
From Letters to the Editor @ The Washington Post ~ Monday, August 9, 2010; A12
The Aug. 4 news story "U.S. monitoring Sri Lankans aiming for North America, asylum" quoted a former Pentagon official who advocated summarily sending approximately 200 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum-seekers, now on a boat heading toward North America, back to Sri Lanka. This is a dangerous, ill-considered position.
Further, the asylum-seekers could be at risk of harm if returned to Sri Lanka. Thousands of Tamils suspected of being members of the Tigers are being detained there without charge; some have reportedly been tortured or have died in custody.
People seeking asylum have the right to a fair hearing on the merits of their individual cases. Treating them all like war criminals without giving them hearings is simply unjust.
(James McDonald, Chicago - The writer is Sri Lanka country specialist at Amnesty International U.S.A.)