The Right of All Humans to Freedom of Movement

Borders as a Crime against Humanity

It is a newspaper I rarely read, and one I would never buy, the Times Colonist based in Camosack (Victoria, “British Columbia” — BC). It is part of the crumbling Zionist-supporting Asper family media conglomerate based in Canada, whose flagship newspaper is the money-losing National Post. But my parents subscribe to it, realizing it is filled with disinformation and propaganda, because it is the only local paper.

Last week a human cargo ship, the MV Sun Sea, brought 492 Tamil refugee claimants to Vancouver Island.

In the first two-thirds of his article on the editorial page Times Colonist writer Lorne Gunter presented the history of oppression the Tamils have faced from the Sinhalese majority.1 In the last one-third of the article Gunter wrote, “Against this backdrop, I might ordinarily argue for acceptance” of the Tamils to Canada.

He even conceded, “Many of the refugees might well have valid refugee claims.”

But Gunter would send all these oppressed Tamils back, including the valid refugees2 among them.

Why?

Gunter states that Tamils resisted their oppression with violence. He claims Tamil Tigers extorted money to support their violent resistance to violent Sinhalese oppression. He worries that Tamil Tigers may be behind the human smuggling.

In the befuddling “logic” of Gunter, if members of your group have committed violence, then all members are tarnished by the violence. It does not matter if you used violence in self-defense against violence. This violates the fourth Geneva Convention which holds collective punishment to be a war crime. In other words, Gunter advocates a war crime against a people who suffered under an oppressive Sinhalese regime in Sri Lanka. This is what passes for editorials in the Times Colonist.

Valid Tamil refugees must be punished for alleged extortion by other Tamils.

Canada’s history is tarnished by rejecting boats of Jewish refugees escaping Nazi oppression during World War II.3 Does Gunter agree that Canada did right by rejecting these Jewish asylum seekers?

BC history is also blacken by the 1914 Komagata Maru “incident” with its hundreds of Sikhs seeking entry to Canada. The ship was forced back to India where the Sikhs were met with lethal violence. Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper apologized in 2008, but Sikhs were unsatisfied with the apology.4

Gunter would repeat all these historical instances of insouciance for the plight of Others.

As justification, Gunter ends his piece, “At the end of the day, it will be too hard to tell the good guys from the bad … And the risk of guessing wrong is too great for Canada.”

In other words, by default all the Tamils are considered guilty as terrorists in Gunter’s mind.5 There is no presumption of innocence until proven guilty as required under Canadian law. As for guessing wrong … there is again the bizarre “logic” of Gunter that sending back the Tamils, “valid refugees” or not, is presumably guessing right!? So why is it a “guess”?

Where would Gunter send them? To, what he writes, “deplorable Sri Lankan detention camps, where torture and summary executions are thought to be common.”

The immorality of the Gunter/Times Colonist position is stark.

How will Canadians display their humanity?

Canada has the unenviable history of being spawned through a genocide against the First Nations of the land. That a country might again turn its back on a people fleeing violence back in their home country does not do it proud. Gunter would send them back to face possible massacres that he acknowledges. Gunter either does not know his Canadian history, or he wishes nonetheless to repeat the grave errors.

Such a column is revelatory of the Times Colonist. Is it any wonder that readers are turning away from corporate media in droves?

It is important to be aware of what the various media outlets present as news and opinion, but I’ll try and resist any masochistic impulses to leaf through my parents’s local newspaper and stick with independent media.

  1. Lorne Gunter, “Sadly, the boat Tamils should be sent back,” Times Colonist, 17 August 2010: A12. []
  2. I do not hold any humans — refugees or immigrants — to be “invalid” or “illegitimate,” although there is an argument for some exceptions; e.g., those who have been found guilty of major crimes in a demonstrably fair legal system. See NOII-Vancouver, “Canada: Stop Jailing and Deporting Refugees! Let Them Stay!The Dominion Weblog, 17 August 2010. []
  3. See “Jews not welcome in wartime Canada,” CBC Digital Archives, 6 October 1982. []
  4. The Canadian Press, “Sikhs unhappy with PM’s Komagata Maru apology,” CTV, 3 August 2008. []
  5. Gunter does not distinguish between freedom fighters and terrorists. []
Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at gmail.com. Read other articles by Kim.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. hayate said on August 18th, 2010 at 10:23am #

    How about sending gunter, the times colonist, it’s staff and owners back?

  2. AaronG said on August 18th, 2010 at 8:58pm #

    Borders are just man-made imaginary lines on a map.

    The issue of refugees has been a major focus of the current Australian election campaign (and previous campaigns), encouraged by one racist candidate and one “slightly less racist” candidate. Make a choice…………

  3. kalidas said on August 23rd, 2010 at 4:52pm #

    Good on you as usual, Kim.
    One of the very very few who even know how to spell Tamil.

  4. teafoe2 said on August 23rd, 2010 at 7:14pm #

    just for the record, I agree with the article and all three comments. Well said.