Suren Karththikesu remembers the cheers when migrants on board the MV Sun Sea first spotted the Canadian flag. The 492 Sri Lankan Tamils had been at sea for three months, on a dangerous voyage across the Pacific Ocean. The flag, hung from a navy vessel that would help escort the Sun Sea to the British Columbia shore five years ago this week, offered the passengers new lives away from the civil war that had ravaged their home country.
Five Sri Lankan men left hometowns reeling from the remnants of a ruthless civil war and embarked on a monthslong human-smuggling journey that spanned seven countries.
They each paid $55,000 for a ride by air and sea to a fresh chance in the Americas. They were captured within hours of their arrival in South Florida and served as witnesses for the F.B.I. in the investigation of their smugglers, cooperation that the men were led to believe would work in their favor as their cases made their way through immigration courts.
Three years later, they are still waiting for their cases to be resolved