FORMER Toronto gang member Sanjeev Kuhendrarajah is heavily
tattooed, has a criminal record for death threats and
firearms possession that got him deported from Canada six
years ago, and is now, perhaps improbably, the articulate
and thoughtful spokesman for a boatload of Tamil
asylum-seekers trying to get to Christmas Island.Toronto gang member Sanjeev Kuhendrarajah
with criminal record, deported from Canada, is
now, spokesman for boatload of Tamil Refugees Let's think: ''will ordinary innocent Lankan Tamils select a criminal to speak
unless they too are criminals''.When will we Lankan Tamils select a leader without crimnal record or penchant for gun and violence We Lankan Tamils are ''ignorant fools'' in the eyes of the International Community as we had such a leader in the recent past
On Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 11:09 AM, Mal Spencer <email@example.com> wrote:
> FORMER Toronto gang member Sanjeev Kuhendrarajah is heavily
> tattooed, has a criminal record for death threats and
> firearms possession that got him deported from Canada six
> years ago, and is now, perhaps improbably, the articulate
> and thoughtful spokesman for a boatload of Tamil
> asylum-seekers trying to get to Christmas Island.
> A Canadian immigration department assessment refers to
> chronic alcohol and drug abuse in his youth, persistent
> anger management issues and a "love-hate relationship" with
> his mother.
> But the 27-year-old adamantly denies he is a
> Kuhendrarajah, otherwise known as Alex - a pseudonym he
> said he had used for years and which he goes by on the
> social networking site Facebook - has finally spoken about
> his past after the Sri Lankan government accused him and a
> brother of being involved in the human trafficking business.
> Because of his excellent English, Kuhendrarajah became the
> voice of the boatload of nearly 250 Sri Lankan refugees tied
> up at Merak dock, in western Java, after it was intercepted
> by the Indonesian navy on an Australian intelligence tip-off
> early last month.
> But now, fearful for the safety in Sri Lanka of his wife
> and three young children, who are trying desperately to also
> escape the country after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
> Eelam rebellion was put down several months ago, he says he
> regrets having taken such a prominent role in the affair.
> He has also admitted concealing facts about his life.
> Kuhendrarajah agreed to speak out on the condition that his
> immediate family not be identified. The Australian has,
> however, spoken to Kuhendrarajah's wife in Sri Lanka , where
> she is awaiting travel documents she hopes will be organised
> within days.
> "The Sri Lankan government is out to get me, they are going
> to try to crucify me, and they will do that by any means
> necessary," he said.
> "The reason I'm speaking up against these allegations is to
> prove to the world that this government is cruel, that it
> has no mercy. They will do anything to try to discredit me
> and to ruin my family. If anything happens to my wife, if
> anything happens to my children, I will hold the Australian
> government and the Indonesian government responsible for
> their murders."
> Kuhendrarajah said he grew up in Canada , after his family
> fled Sri Lanka following anti-Tamil riots in 1983. Arriving
> in Toronto via London - where his father remained after
> separating from Kuhendrarajah's mother, and is now a
> prosperous gold trader - the family joined relatives who had
> been in the multicultural city for more than two decades.
> By his own admission, Kuhendrarajah's life went off the
> rails early, and at the age of 12 he became a ward of the
> state after running away from home and accusing his mother
> of abuse.
> He says he eventually fell in with a Tamil street gang at
> the height of a Toronto turf war that left several people
> "The criminal conviction that had me deported was because
> as a child I made some very bad mistakes, and those mistakes
> cost me my entire life," he said.
> Kuhendrarajah was, for about three years until his arrest
> in September 2000, a member of the A.K. Kannan gang, one of
> two major Tamil criminal organisations responsible for a
> reign of terror on Toronto 's streets. An uncle was also a
> senior leader of the gang.
> "There were many fights, and these fights got bigger with
> each year," he said. "First people started fighting with
> their hands, and then people started fighting with small
> knives and then larger knives. It just escalated."
> A.K. Kannan had started out as a small heroin-trading
> franchise but the conflict quickly exploded with its main
> rival, the VVT gang, named for the town of Valvettithurai in
> northern Sri Lanka where its leader originated.
> Reports have linked VVT to funding for the Tamil Tigers,
> although Kuhendrarajah was adamant the battles, while
> originating in homeland discontents, were mainly about local
> More than a dozen tit-for-tat fatal shootings in the late
> 1990s forced authorities to act, rounding up for deportation
> several dozen gang members in late 2001.
> By that time Kuhendrarajah, one of those identified for
> forced removal under a special organised crime section of
> the country's immigration act, had already spent a year in
> jail on the firearms and death-threat convictions, and was
> due for release.
> "And that is the point where I learnt I wasn't a citizen,"
> Kuhendrarajah said, revealing as he has done so many times
> in his short life a combination of acute intelligence and
> blind naivety.
> "Growing up from the age of five, singing the national
> anthem every day of my life, at that point, at the age of
> 19, I thought I was a (Canadian) citizen. I just totally
> couldn't believe I wasn't - because my grandmother was a
> citizen, and my mother is a citizen, my uncles, my aunts are
> citizens, my grandfather was a citizen. And I just didn't
> understand how I could not be a citizen. But my mother had
> applied for citizenship while I was under the care of the
> Children's Aid Society, when I was 14, because I had run
> away from home, so I didn't receive it."
> Canadian immigration department documents obtained by The
> Australian cite the view of a department panel in 2002 that
> it was "not persuaded the prospect (of rehabilitation) are
> good or even fair", after the incident for which he was
> arrested, and confirming his deportation order.
> The documents show Kuhendrarajah was seized by police with
> a sawn-off .22 calibre semi-automatic handgun loaded with
> seven rounds, after having threatened to kill an opponent.
> Kuhendrarajah described himself and his former gangmates
> yesterday as "spoilt brats who didn't have a mind to think
> for themselves", and claimed they were "used" by the gang
> leaders to wage power struggles in the city.
> The court documents, however, describe him as living in a
> basement squat with other friends who were linked to
> kidnappings and assaults, and contain Kuhendrarajah's own
> admission that he had been involved in "petty crimes with
> friends" and fights in bars.
> Kuhendrarajah was deported in 2003 to Sri Lanka , where he
> had no family but plenty of money from his wealthy relatives
> in Canada and London.
> There he met his wife, with whom he moved in 2006 to
> Chennai in India , fearful of ongoing anti-Tamil violence in
> Sri Lanka .
> "Eventually I did start a small business (in Chennai), and
> I think this is where the Sri Lankan government got the idea
> that I'm a people-smuggler," he said.
> "I did not have an office, but I started a small business
> where for tours, or anybody that needed a vehicle to rent, I
> just rented out mine. And whilst doing this I started
> working in a call centre, because of my good command of
> English and my knowledge of American lifestyle and American
> culture. In the call centre in Chennai they loved me, and
> they were willing to pay me a lot of money. So as time went
> by I became very well off in India and I had a good life
> On the understanding that his removal order from Canada
> lasted only five years, Kuhendrarajah began making plans
> last year to obtain Sri Lankan passports for his children -
> his wife gave birth to their third daughter just weeks ago,
> while he was hiding in Malaysia waiting to board the Lestari
> Jaya 5, the ill-fated boat that brought him to Australia's
> attention - and try again to make a North American home.
> On their return from India to organise the passports,
> however, he said he was arrested by Sri Lankan authorities
> on suspicion of being a Tigers supporter and detained
> without charge for months.
> After being released, he said, and brimming with
> frustration, he leapt at the opportunity a friend was
> offering to sail from Malaysia to Australia .
> "The plan was for me to get out of the country immediately,
> and then as soon as my child was born, for them to follow
> however they could," he said. "I was determined that if I
> was able to get on to Christmas Island, that I would be able
> to tell the truth to the UNHCR, and they would be able to
> understand my situation, understand that I made mistakes
> when I was young, and it has been years since I left
> (Canada). My life has changed a lot since then.
> "But I am not a Tiger, and I am not a people smuggler. I
> want to put these people (people smugglers) away as much as
> anyone does. They may now have cost me my family and my
> COURTESY:THE AUSTRALIAN
> Posted by transCurrents on November 9, 2009 06:07 AM |
> Permalink transCurrents.comContact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
> 3 Comments
> All the criminals are flocking to your land that had been
> an "open prison" for the British Empire. Why don't you
> accept all these "fake" asylum seekers, who are searching a
> greener pasture like their ancestors.
> Posted by: SLFireBall | November 9, 2009 11:44 AM
> It is men like this who gave the Tamil resistance movement
> a bad name. Their handlers were more bent on making money
> off extortion, intimidation and all unholy features that
> ruined the future of thousands of otherwise talented youth.
> It's not over entirely. The falsehood that VP is alive is
> being "sold" purely to keep whatever is left of the income
> coming in and to battle it out to take the loot that Palitha
> Kohona, the former Foreign Secy estimates at US$1.6
> The diaspora must now come together and work towards a new
> leadership of learned, professionals with influence over
> GoSL, India and the world community to build the North East
> to stand on its own.
> There is still room to come together in the island and
> regain the "ruined past" for a bright future. In spite of
> all its faults, the future leadership should centre around
> democratic features where the life of each and everyone
> should be held sacred.
> The gun culture should be buried for good once and for all.
> There is more support for the Tamils of Sri Lanka today than
> ever before.
> Posted by: Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan | November 9, 2009 09:43
> This article has changed my perception /suspicion I had
> after reading these colums and other reports in the past
> that 'Ltte was responsible for the gun and other violence
> involving Tamils in the streets of Canada/Toranto'. I can
> understand why Srilankan Gov is now Steriotyping him as
> Ltter in order to try and save their face and discredit
> To ISS, I live in the UK and also have been reading and
> listining various media's( English & Tamil),and people
> but I can't find any one saying that VP is alive in person (
> they are claiming that he (His legacy) is alive in their
> (Tamil's)Hearts and minds only, like Mohandas Ghandhi ,
> Subhas chandra boss, Jesus,Buddha etc.
> Posted by: Pandara Vannian | November 10, 2009 05:08 AM
> When a migrant smuggling ship bound for Australia was
> seized in Indonesian waters last month, a 27-year-old with a
> thick beard stepped forward to speak for the boat people.
> He said he was Alex and that the more than 200 asylum
> seekers aboard the wooden cargo ship were ethnic Tamils
> fleeing Sri Lanka, but it was the way he said it that stood
> out: He spoke in a distinctly Canadian accent.
> In Toronto, police watched the news footage coming out of
> Indonesia on YouTube and instantly recognized "Alex." He was
> Sanjeev Kuhendrarajah. And he wasn't a businessman with an
> MBA degree, as he had told reporters, he was a Toronto gang
> Yesterday, Kuhendrarajah admitted he had been deported from
> Canada in 2003 for violent crimes but denied allegations he
> was a human smuggler and asked to be brought to Australia.
> "The fact that I lived in Canada for a period of time and
> was removed from Canada has no bearing whatsoever on my
> claim or the claim of the other 250 people for asylum," he
> said in a statement.
> While the Canadian government has been investigating the
> identities of 76 Sri Lankans who arrived in British Columbia
> waters on Oct. 17 (one of whom is wanted by Sri Lanka for
> terrorism), Australia has been trying to figure out how to
> handle similar migrant ships headed its way. At Australia's
> request, the Indonesian Navy intercepted a boatload of 255
> Sri Lankans early last month and brought them to Merak, in
> western Java. Australia is reluctant to admit the asylum
> seekers, and the discovery that a convicted Toronto gang
> member is on board may only make matters worse.
> Making the case for the boat people, Kuhendrarajah has been
> a passionate spokesman for the cause of Sri Lanka's ethnic
> Tamil minority, saying they face "genocide in Sri Lanka.
> Just the fact that you are Tamil, you will face genocide
> sooner or later. There will be an annihilation of Tamils in
> Sri Lanka. It will happen."
> But during his 16 years in Canada, Kuhendrarajah likewise
> participated in a campaign of violence against ethnic Tamils
> as a member of AK Kannan, a Tamil street gang behind a rash
> of drive-by shootings in Toronto.
> Named after its weapon of choice, the AK-47 assault rifle,
> AK Kannan was formed by Sri Lankans who came to Canada in
> the 1980s, according to an RCMP report. AK Kannan and a
> rival Tamil gang called the VVT fought a violent turf war in
> Toronto in the 1990s.
> AK Kannan was known for its heavy firepower. In January,
> 1998, Toronto police raided an AK Kannan weapons cache in a
> snowbank behind a Scarborough gas station and found a
> submachine gun and two sawed-off 12-gauge shotguns.
> The Tamil gangs' wild tit-for-tat shootings turned parts of
> Toronto into a war zone, as gang members opened fire on each
> other from speeding cars. They shot up not only each other,
> but also innocent bystanders, one of them a 19-year-old
> Tamil university student mistakenly gunned down in a
> Scarborough doughnut shop in 1997.
> Toronto police set up a Tamil Task Force but the gangs
> evaded prison by threatening witnesses and refusing to
> testify against each other. Meanwhile, Canada's major banks
> incurred losses "in the millions" as a result of financial
> frauds committed by the gangs, the task force wrote in a
> Residents who lived near a Scarborough basement rented by
> AK Kannan complained to police "that these hoodlums were
> yelling, shouting, urinating, throwing garbage, walking
> across peoples' lawns and disrupting the peace in the
> neighborhood," the report said.
> Kuhendrarajah lived in one such gang den. Born in Sri Lanka
> in 1982, he arrived in Canada at age five to live with his
> grandparents, but by 12 he was skipping school and received
> counselling for his anger.
> The Children's Aid Society stepped in and he lived in
> foster homes until he was 16. He returned to his mother
> briefly (his father lived in the U.K.) but would come home
> drunk and high on marijuana. He ended up moving into a
> basement apartment with gang friends. Police knew the place
> as an AK Kannan hangout and visited it often to investigate
> shootings in the area or to arrest Kuhendrarajah's friends
> for such crimes as kidnapping or assault.
> After VVT gangsters ran over an AK Kannan member named
> Kandipan Poopolasingam in a movie theatre parking lot,
> Kuhendrarajah approached a youth he thought was affiliated
> with the men responsible.
> "If you talk to them, I am going to shoot you,"
> Kuhendrarajah told him. He then raised his shirt to show the
> handle of his sawed-off .22. He was later convicted of
> illegal weapons possession and threatening. Immigration
> officials decided to deport him.
> The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) agreed he should be
> sent back to Sri Lanka. "He has had a longstanding problem
> with anger and disregarded authority figures at home and
> school," the IRB wrote, adding his links to Canada were
> "I hung around with the wrong people before," Kuhendrarajah
> told an IRB hearing in March 2003. Asked why he had carried
> a weapon, he said, "I'm going to be honest with you, I
> wanted to be a bad boy."
> He said he would return to Sri Lanka willingly but first he
> wanted to spend time at home visiting his daughter, who was
> born just 12 days before his arrest. When the IRB refused,
> Kuhendrarajah lost it.
> "Do you think I give a f--k about your f--king country?" he
> said. He then threw a rubber eraser at the IRB member and
> left the hearing room. The IRB wrote that the outburst
> "indicates an individual that does not fully control
> He was deported to Sri Lanka soon after, and that was the
> last Canadian police heard of him until he reappeared in
> Indonesia as the articulate spokesman for the Tamil boat
> people trying to reach Australia.
> In his statement yesterday, he portrayed his past in Canada
> as a non-issue. "The Sri Lankan government is trying to
> interfere with our right to have a fair hearing for our
> claims for asylum in a safe country," he said. "The Sri
> Lankan government is desperate to divert attention away from
> its role in human rights abuses, particularly against Tamils
> in Sri Lanka."
> Notorious Toronto gangster re-emerges as Sri Lankan asylum
> Stewart Bell, National Post Published: Monday, November 09,