Mohan (not his real name) is a small, soft spoken man with a kind face and kind eyes. He is 30, and his wife 28. Mohan used to work as a petrol station attendant in one of the small towns outside Jaffna in Sri Lanka. His younger brother joined the LTAT when he was still at school.
“I think he followed his friends”, Mohan said. Together with his parents, he went to the LTAT office to try and get his brother back, but they couldn’t. His brother died in fighting. “They were fighting, and there was a bomb. His whole body burst. They only gave us a photo. No body left”. After that, his elder brother joined. Again they went to the LTAT office to plead. His mother said “Our younger son is dead. Why are you taking another one of my sons?”
One day, an informer told the government that his brothers had joined the LTAT. Soldiers came to his house when he was not around and questioned his mother. They asked if her sons joined the LTAT. She said yes. They asked if she was helping them. She said no. They warned her to “be careful, don’t help them. If you help them, you will die.” After that, they started questioning her about Mohan, asking whereabouts and what he is doing. They suspected that Mohan was involved as well in the LTAT, just like his brothers.
Together with his wife, Mohan fled to his friend’s house, and eventually made his way to Colombo where his friends told him to go to Malaysia. Borrowing money from his friends, he paid the agent 2.2 Lakhs. The agent promised him work permits but when he arrived in Malaysia with his wife, the agent ran away. Fortunately, he has an uncle living in Malaysia. It was his uncle that helped him find work, and eventually he registered with the UNHCR. He works as a caretaker, earning RM600 a month. He speaks good English and Malay, and I was surprised that he picked it up just by learning from the Tamil kids playing around his area.
“Sometimes, after work, when I sit down and relax, I worry about my parents. People keep coming to the house, keep questioning them. If anything happens to them, what will I do? I am so far away.”
“But I can’t go back. If I go back, there will be big problem for me. They will catch me. They will put me in jail. Malaysia is better. There is no fighting.”