Indian Tamil Tiger supporter deported
Published: Friday, November 27, 2009
Canadian immigration officials arrested an Indian man in Toronto yesterday after he gave a fiery speech at an event where the flag of the outlawed Tamil Tigers rebels was flown.
Sebastian Seeman, who was in Canada on a speaking tour, was taken into custody by Canada Border Services Agency officers and questioned before agreeing to leave the country immediately.
A CBSA spokeswoman, Patricia Giolti, confirmed the arrest, and his lawyer, Hadayt Nazami, said immigration officials had intended to deport him on security grounds unless he left voluntarily.
He departed Canada last night.
Mr. Seeman was scheduled to speak at a Tamil community function last night but was forced to cancel due to his arrest. He was to speak in Montreal on Sunday.
A film director from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Mr. Seeman is known for his hard-line speeches in support of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers rebels and their fight for independence.
The Tigers were wiped out by the Sri Lankan military in May, ending three decades of civil war, but during the final months of the conflict Mr. Seeman was arrested several times in India for speeches considered inflammatory.
He was also targeted by the Indian press after photos surfaced showing him smiling and posing with the late leader of the Tamil Tigers, Velupillai Prabhakaran.
During his speech in Toronto on Wednesday, Mr. Seeman talked about restarting the civil war in Sri Lanka, according to several Tamil-Canadians who heard it on the radio or watched it on the Internet.
He also spoke harshly about the ethnic Singhala who are the majority in Sri Lanka. “No Singhala can live,” he said, according to the witnesses. He also said the war would have ended differently had the rebels bombed 100 Singhala schools for every Tamil school bombed by the Sri Lankan forces.
In the video of his speech, a flag bearing the militaristic emblem of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, can be seen in the room. The Tigers are a banned terrorist organization under Canadian law.
RCMP officers and members of the Toronto and Peel police services were involved in Mr. Seeman's arrest, which comes as police are cracking down on the pro-rebel events that were once common in Toronto.
“I think that's what the accusation was, to be honest with you, that he was pro-LTTE … membership in a terrorist group, whether by association, activity or speeches or we don't know,” Mr. Nazami said.
Mr. Nazami said Mr. Seeman had denied any ties to the rebels. He had agreed to leave because CBSA officials intended to detain him until at least Monday, which meant he would miss his speaking events.
“I think for him that was the deciding factor,” Mr. Nazami said.
“The issue was, he's a film director, he's got things to do.”
Mr. Seeman's speaking tour coincided with “heroes' day,” also known as “martyr's day,” an event held each year to commemorate Tamil rebels who died during the fight for independence.
A report by the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre, an agency based in CSIS headquarters, says that during the 2007 martyrs' day event “children were photographed wearing LTTE T-shirts and one young boy was shown brandishing a fake weapon.”
Police have been investigating Tamil Tigers activities in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver since 2002.
The investigation concluded that pro-rebel groups in Canada had funneled millions of dollars to the Tigers.
Mr. Seeman entered Canada on Monday. He was travelling on a visa issued last month by the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi. He visited Canada in 2007 without incident.
Related Topics :
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam