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Tamil accused fights back I’m no people smuggler: Alex – smh

[MISC, Saturday, 7 November 2009 16:16 No Comment]

Alex, the spokesman for Tamil asylum seekers THE spokesman for almost 250 Tamil asylum seekers refusing to leave their boat in Indonesia says Sri Lankan Government allegations he is a people smuggler are "a joke".

The 27-year-old known as Alex says the accusations are a desperate attempt by the Sri Lankan Government to deflect attention from the Tamils’ plight.

"That’s a joke the Government is trying to play on me, to discredit me and make me look like a bad person," he said yesterday.

The boat carrying one Burmese and 254 Sri Lankan asylum seekers was intercepted by the Indonesian navy en route to Australia last month and taken to Merak. Alex, who speaks excellent English, became the group’s spokesman.

The Sri Lankan Government initially criticised his American accent, claiming it showed he was not a real Sri Lankan. Alex claims he developed the accent while working in an American call centre in India.

But in a new statement, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry levelled more serious allegations at the man who they say is actually Kulaendrarajah Sanjeev. "He once belonged to [the] Kannan Gang involved in street fights and was deported from Canada in 2003 after being arrested for trouble-making," it said. "Alex had been involved in human smuggling for a long time."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd would not reveal yesterday how the Government planned to end the Oceanic Viking stand-off but was confident a solution is inevitable. Mr Rudd said the Government has dealt with 86 interruptions of people-smuggling ventures into Australia in the past 12 months.

[Full Coverage]

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