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'Not every Tiger is necessarily guilty of crimes' - Amnesty International

Aug 9, 2010 1:45:55 PM- transcurrents.com

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.)