1 Oct 2013

Tamils still prepared to pay people smugglers

8:35 am on 1 October 2013

Tamils in northern Sri Lanka say they are still prepared to pay people smugglers to get them to

Australia, despite a crackdown by the new government.

In the aftermath of the civil war, the ABC reports that many say they would do anything to travel to a safe country like Australia.

Murali, a goat herder in a small village not far from Jaffna, got in touch with people smugglers late last year. The ABC reports he paid $A3,000 to join more than 80 people crammed inside the hull of a small fishing boat.

After three weeks at sea, Murali's journey ended at Christmas Island, where he was processed and sent back to Sri Lanka.

"We were on Christmas Island for about 20 days," he said. "After that, the officials told us we were being transferred to another place. They didn't tell us it was going to be Sri Lanka."

Nine months later, Murali says the Australian government's new laws have not deterred him from trying to make the journey again.

"We heard about the people being transferred to Papua New Guinea on the television and the radio," he told ABC.

"I would still rather still rather live there than in Sri Lanka."

But Sri Lankan foreign minister Professor GL Peiris said the Australian government's message has made an impact:

"This heavenly life which they have been led to expect is not going to materialise," he said.

"They will not be allowed to work there or, indeed, land there. They will be sent to Manus Island."