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    People smugglers planning more boat trips to Australia, says analyst Featured

    July 14, 2014

    People smugglers are organising for more asylum seekers to come to Australia by boat from Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia, Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday quoting Prof Rohan Gunaratna.


    A SMH news report said: Professor Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, warned that people-smuggling networks remain active across the region.


    “The on-going people smuggling operations are being run out of south-east Asia, notably Indonesia, Thailand, Laos and Malaysia. The boats travel from Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia to Australia,” Professor Gunaratna told Fairfax Media.


    “The human smuggling industry located overseas with links to Sri Lanka and Australia is active and is driving these ventures.”


    Two men arrested in Malaysia last week and charged with terrorism and immigration offences have links to Australia. Sornalingam Puvaneswaran, a 31-year-old Tamil, was arrested on July 3 in Kuala Lumpur. Puvaneswaran, who also went by the name Eesan, is alleged to have been a member of the intelligence wing of the LTTE.


    He fled Sri Lanka in 2009 as the Sri Lankan army crushed the secessionist Tigers. Puvaneswaran reached Australia and was found to have a well-founded fear of persecution, and was granted asylum and a permanent residency visa.


    He lived in Dandenong, in Melbourne’s west, and was in Malaysia on a three-month visa to visit his wife and children when he was arrested.


    Arrested alongside Puvaneswaran was 37-year-old Singarajah Edman, also alleged to have been a member of the LTTE.


    Professor Gunaratna described Edman as an explosives expert “who was smuggling people to Australia”.
    Malaysian police allege the pair was part of a group trying to revive the LTTE movement, had plotted and carried out terrorist attacks, and was involved in smuggling people across the globe.


    “The items confiscated in the operation include a number of fake passports of various countries and a fake stamp from the Malaysian Immigration Department and foreign missions,” said Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.


    The pair remains in Malaysian police custody, and members of the Tamil community there hold grave concerns for their safety if they are forcibly returned to Sri Lanka. Australian embassy officials are providing consular assistance to Puvaneswaran.


    Professor Gunaratna said the LTTE movement was diminished, but remained active though it has the support of less than 10 per cent of Tamils.


    “The LTTE was dismantled in Sri Lanka but their overseas network is intact. The group remains active in Tamil Nadu in India and in the West including in Australia and New Zealand.”


    Professor Gunaratna said Australia’s hardline policy of turning back boats had been effective in reducing the number of attempted journeys.


    “Australian government agencies have significant understanding and knowledge about the human smuggling industry.” (HC)


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