Refugees in India embrace their roots
Many fleeing Chinese rule to follow the Dalai Lama seek linguistic, religious and cultural freedom
Mar 20, 2008 04:30 AM
SPECIAL TO THE STAR
Between 2,500 and 3,000 Tibetans have entered India every year since the early 1990s, according to the Office of the Reception Centres in Dharamsala.[...]Since the failed Tibetan uprising against the Chinese government in 1959, almost 130,000 Tibetans have followed the Tibetan spiritual and political leader, the Dalai Lama, settling mostly in India but also in the United States, Canada and Switzerland.
Those who enter India say that China's claim about increasing economic opportunities hasn't really affected them. Still, coming to India isn't just about access to financial betterment. It's mostly about ties to language and religion that many say are easier to cultivate in India than in Tibet.
For men like Tashi, being in India is a real treat.
"This is a true democracy. Here you can do anything you want, there is no fear, no pressure, even if you want to protest," he said, referring to the demonstrations in the streets of Dharamsala.
According to this collection of StatsCan tables, dated 2001, on immigration figures Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka are numbers 1,2, and 8 respectively on Canada's top ten list of refugee producing countries. Incidentally India and Pakistan are numbers 2 and 4 respectively on the list of top ten immigrant producing countries (India is now number 1 as of 2007) and 1 and 4 for family immigration with Sri Lanka taking the number 6 spot.
If Tibetans feel and vouch for India as a safe country to seek refuge then why are we accepting refugees from India? Why aren't Pakistanis making asylum claims there as well? Why is Canada home to the largest collection of Sri Lankan Tamils outside of Sri Lanka when the Indian state of Tamil Nadu is right across the street. Tamils are the ethnic majority of Tamil Nadu's population of 65 million people where Tamil is the predominant language. Why do Sri Lankan Tamils ignore the geographic proximity of Tamil Nadu and cultural similarity of that Indian State and travel half way around the world to a culturally dissimilar country that has no historic or cultural ties with Sri Lanka? Why do Pakistanis feel the same as well when India is home to a sizable Muslim minority and is ethnically and culturally similar? India is the world's largest democracy and is constitutionally pluralistic. It is safe enough to turn Indian, Pakistani, and Ski Lankan refugee claims away at the border and instruct them to make their claims in India.
Canada's refugee system is such a mess it invites abuse and most of this has to do with the nefarious Singh decision of 1985 when six Guyanese Sikhs challenged Canada's refugee laws and won. Economic migrants posing as refugees is disgusting and it needs to be stopped. This is like men dressing up like women to secure a spot on a life boat to flee the sinking Titanic. It's a scam thus it is no coincidence that not only are India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka on Canada's top ten list of refugee producing countries but are also on the top ten list for family immigration. The phony refugee claim is not made to solely benefit the claimant but the whole family which includes immediate and extended members. It's dishonourable, it's wrong, and we should put a stop to it.
Because of Canada's mess of a refugee system immigrant con men and women have no qualms to stoop so low to fake a refugee claim to get into the country. There are more Sri Lankan Tamils in Canada than there are in Tamil Nadu becuase Sri Lankan Tamils targeted Canada and abused our lax refugee system to scam their way to get themselves and their family members into a first world country. If Tamils were in such danger then why do they so eagerly return to their country of alleged persecution? Hint: it's becuase they're not real refugees.
Canada's refugee system should help those who really need our help, not shysters.