Snowden’s Guardian Angels
When Edward Snowden first came forward and revealed the NSA’s illegal mass surveillance in 2013, an unlikely group of heroes helped him stay safe in Hong Kong: three extremely poor refugee families with almost nothing to their name.
Meet Ajith, Vanessa with daughter Keana, Nadeeka and Supun with daughter Sethumdi. They are the refugees who sheltered Snowden in Hong Kong in his time of greatest need.
Their remarkable and heroic story was told for the first time recently in the International Media. When the refugees met Snowden, the entire US intelligence apparatus and every policeman in Hong Kong was looking for him.
Still, despite living in one of the poorest parts of Hong Kong, and with barely enough resources to feed themselves, these heroes took Snowden in and sheltered him. They became Snowden’s Guardian Angels.
Now these angels and their families need our help.
Ajith fled his home country of Sri Lanka in 2003. In Sri Lanka, Ajith signed up for the military when he was 18 years old. But in the Ambepussa Army Camp young recruits were abused daily and often raped by their superiors. A victim of sexual abuse and at one point left for dead, Ajith deserted. When he was caught by the military police, he was then tortured.
With his military background, Ajith acted as Edward Snowden’s bodyguard in Hong Kong in 2013.
Ajith has been diagnosed with PTSD and fears he will be killed if he returns to his home country. He tries to find solace in his practice of Buddhism, but wants nothing more than to have a normal life and to see his daughter again. They have not seen each other in over 15 years.
Vanessa worked for years as a domestic helper in Hong Kong. In the world’s richest city, hundreds of thousands of young women from the Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh live in appalling conditions. Many of them are practically modern-day slaves.
During a trip home to the Philippines in 2000, Vanessa was kidnapped and raped. She gave birth to a son who was taken from her and is now presumed to be dead. In 2002 she fled back to Hong Kong to escape her aggressor, where she now lives with her infant daughter Keana.
In June 2013 she sheltered an unexpected visitor named Edward Snowden, hiding his passport in her refrigerator. Today, Vanessa has fond memories of Edward playing with her little daughter and all three of them celebrating his 30th birthday together in her home.
Born in Hong Kong, Keana is energetic and playful like most girls her age. She is also stateless, and has been cut off from the support she needs to get an education. Thanks to your donations, For the Refugees has been able to keep her in school, where she is excelling.
Vanessa has become an activist for the rights of asylum seekers in Hong Kong, and dreams of one day paying the support she has received forward by working with an NGO that helps refugees as she has been helped.
Meet Supun and Nadeeka
Nadeeka and Supun each fled their homes in Sri Lanka after facing persecution and physical and sexual abuse over their political opinions. They met in Hong Kong, and now have two children, Sethumdi and Dinath.
When they met Snowden in 2013, they gave him their bed, while they slept on the floor in the hallway.
Like Vanessa’s daughter, their children Sethumdi and Dinath are also stateless. Sethumdi was humiliated by staff and kicked out of school last year when her government assistance was cut off. As a result, she was not allowed to attend class all of last year.
Thanks to funding from For the Refugees, she is now enrolled in a new school and making friends.
Reports say the refugees who sheltered me in Hong Kong have had some benefits cut in retaliation. Will Canada help?Edward Snowden, in a tweet on December 5, 2016
For the Refugees
After their role in the saga of Edward Snowden became public, the refugees have been stripped of the modest support owed to them by the Hong Kong government.
In recent interviews, Snowden’s Guardian Angels have said that they wish to find peace and security in Canada, and have asked Canadians for help. For The Refugees, an NGO founded by three Montreal lawyers, decided to answer this call.
We are working entirely for free to help get these people and their children food and shelter in the coming months. Soon, we hope to relocate them somewhere safe.
This campaign is dedicated to raising funds for Snowden’s Guardian Angels and for Canadians to let our government know that these exceptional individuals belong in our communities.