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Remembering Neelan: Tenth death anniversary

Hello Friends

Ten years ago on this day (July 29th 1999)that Dr. Neelakandan Tiruchelvam known generally as Neelan was brutally assassinated by a suicide killer of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) near his office on Kynsey terrace.

I was perhaps one of the last persons to speak to him on that fateful day. I spoke with him on the telephone from Toronto for 50 minutes from 7.50 am until 8.40 am (Sri Lankan time). I used to call him almost every week then.

Usually he winds up the conversation after a while saying you are going to run up a massive phone bill. But on that day he was in a mood to talk and was quite reflective of maters.

When I ended the conversation he seemed a little surprised. 35 minutes later Neelan was killed at 9.15 a.m as the assassin waiting for him near the Kynsey road-Rosemead place junction threw himself at his vehicle.

“ANY man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in Mankind,” wrote the metaphysical poet John Donne.

The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has extracted a heavy human toll. In my personal capacity as a Sri Lankan Tamil and in my professional capacity as a journalist writing on the ethnic strife, I have lost count of the number of people related or known to me who have encountered violent deaths.

But no man’s death as a result of the war in Sri Lanka has diminished me as that of N eelan Tiruchelvam on a decade ago.

Neelakandan Tiruchelvam, well-known as Neelan or Dr. Neelan, strove ceaselessly to achieve a peaceful solution to the Tamils issue. He dedicated himself to that cause with a sense of purpose, although he could have easily pursued a lucrative academic or professional career as a lawyer in Sri Lanka or abroad.

He chose to remain in Colombo through very trying circumstances and pursue his vision of a lasting political settlement where all communities, including that of his own, the Sri Lankan Tamils, coexisted with justice, dignity and peace.

In that context, his death is an irreparable loss to the country in particular and humanity in general.

I had a close personal relationship with Neelan. He was my friend, philosopher and guide. He was greatly instrumental in moulding my career. He was in a sense my political mentor.

I will always remain grateful for the advice, knowledge ,assistance and help provided by him during various phases of my life.

Neelan and his wife Sithie were like an elder brother and sister to me.

I will be writing a commemorative article on Neelan later this week.

As for today , his 10th death anniversary I want to share with you all an article written by Neelan’s close friend and associate Radhika Coomaraswamy shortly after he was killed.

Radhika is currently the UN secretary-General’s Special Representative on Children in Armed Conflict. At the time she wrote this for “Frontline” ten years ago, Radhika was director of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) in Colombo and UN special rapporteur on violence against women.

Here then is the article on Neelan by Radhika-dbsj

Neelan Tiruchelvam:An intellectual and an institution

By Radhika Coomaraswamy

A FEW days before his death, Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam gave a memorial lecture for one of Sri Lanka’s leading lawyers. Before the doyens of the legal community, he spoke of the Tamil epic Silappadikaram and, using its symbolism, analysed modern const itutional law, including the concepts of the unitary state, democracy and human rights. According to those present at the lecture, this was Tiruchelvam at his best, weaving cultural symbols with the cold face of the law, giving it life and meaning. They said that it was a supreme moment of triumph, a brilliant presentation by one of South Asia’s leading jurists. The speech also highlighted Tiruchelvam’s twin interests and the motivating forces of his life-the law and the love for South Asian culture.

Tiruchelvam was the son of one of Sri Lanka’s leading lawyers and Tamil politicians. From a young age he was trained in the law by his father. He excelled in the law school and then went on to do his Master of Laws (LLM) and SJD at the Harvard Law School , where he was a Fulbright scholar. He formed a life-long attachment to this institution and often went back to teach for a semester or two. The Boston Globe carried the grief-stricken statements of his colleagues at the Law School, including the Dean, upon hearing the news of his death. On September 17, the Law School will have a special commemoration to celebrate the life and work of Neelan Tiruchelvam. Close family members have been invited to be present on the occasion.

This tribute by one of the world’s leading law schools highlights the fact that Tiruchelvam was first and foremost a scholar. His political activism was a result of deeply held beliefs arising out of his scholarship and his love of ideas. He was a voraci ous reader. Despite his many commitments, he found the time to read the many books in his comprehensive library. What was fascinating about Tiruchelvam’s approach to law was that from its very inception it was multi-disciplinary. His first thesis was a s ocio-legal study of Kandyan Law. Throughout his career he read books on history, anthropology, sociology and political science. He carried on a constant dialogue with the leading thinkers of South Asia, from Ashis Nandy to Gananath Obeyesekere. He drew t hem around him and their work and ideas infused the institutions of research that he set up in Sri Lanka.

Tiruchelvam’s primary area of interest was constitutional law. Although his concern for human rights animated most of his work, he was interested in all aspects of constitutional law. His skills in this area were recognised internationally and he was ask ed to help draft constitutions in Central Asia and Ethiopia. It was his belief that constitutions should be consensual, not instrumental, and that they should represent the moral firmament of the society. It is this attitude that motivated his involvemen t in Sri Lanka’s exercises in constitution drafting since the 1970s. Not all his ideas were accepted but he tried his best to persuade government after government that they should strengthen the chapter on Fundamental Rights in the Constitution and that a genuine scheme of devolution was the only way to meet the aspirations of the Tamil-speaking peoples of the North and the East. His idealistic belief that he could persuade Machiavellian governments to do the right thing was often criticised and ridicul ed. Only those closest to him knew that such an attitude stemmed from his belief that moral persuasion and dialogue were the only way forward, not rancour, bitterness or armed conflict.

It is in the area of human rights that Tiruchelvam made his greatest mark and it is human rights activists all over the world who will miss his work the most. The research institutions he set up, the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) and the Law and Society Trust, became important fora for human rights research and activism. Scholars and activists from all over the world, especially those from South Asia, gathered at regular intervals at these institutions to dialogue and discuss strategies of action. The two institutions have produced a plethora of books, articles and manuals on every aspect of human rights. Their journals and newsletters carry the latest developments and analyses on human rights questions in Sri Lanka and the rest of the world. Tiruchelvam was deeply concerned about the human rights situation in his own country; he was also passionately interested in the fate of Aung San Suu Kyi, for whom he sponsored a resolution in the Sri Lankan Parliament. He was concerned among oth ers about indigenous people, the Chakma tribal people of Bangladesh, military rule in Pakistan and women’s rights in Afghanistan. He fought all these causes and actively worked for the protection of human rights at the international level.

Tiruchelvam’s commitment to human rights made him an integral part of international civil society. The outpouring of grief in statement after statement from well-known human rights groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the special commemor ation meeting held in the premises of the United Nations in New York, testify to this fact. Their response to his death was captured at the sub-commission session of the Human Rights Commission when Mary Robinson, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rig hts, and Chairman Aisborne Eide made special references to Tiruchelvam in their opening presentations. Tiruchelvam was also elected Chairman of the prestigious Minority Rights Group in London. The Group’s commitment to his vision is so deep that it has o pened a Website on his life and work. While academics continue to mourn him, it is human rights activists who have already made his name internationally famous. He will be another martyr in their cause and another reason for their increased activism agai nst all forms of barbarism and intolerance.

Tiruchelvam’s interest in the law was not limited to the Constitution. With his wife Sithie, he developed one of the foremost law firms in Sri Lanka, Tiruchelvam Associates, which is the leading law firm in the field of corporate and commercial law. Tiru chelvam’s interest in this area was also from the perspective of the underdog. He was very interested in the law’s regulation of the economy and in developing negotiating skills so that Third World countries could deal with multinationals. When he was a director of research at the Marga Institute, he spent a great deal of time doing research into international contracts and the need for increasing the bargaining power of Third World countries. He was inspired by the New International Economic Order and the need for a legal framework for poverty alleviation.

Tiruchelvam’s other abiding interest and passion was South Asian culture. While the love of law came from his father, the love of South Asian culture was inherited from his mother, Punidham Tiruchelvam, an extraordinary woman who was involved in Tamil cu ltural life and social service. Tiruchelvam’s interest in cultural studies as a whole made him focus on ethnicity as a phenomenon. He set up the ICES, which has now gained worldwide reputation. A large part of the centre’s programme was related to politi cal issues of power-sharing and ethnic equity. It engaged in projects that studied devolution, federalism, language policy, land settlement and employment equity. Publications emerged as he encouraged researchers to work hard.

His rapport with young people was extraordinary. He made each one of them feel special. He expected them to put in the 24-hour day that he put into his work. He inspired them with ideas, encouraged them to read books and, as Ruwanthie Chickera said at hi s funeral, he taught them that the only difference between a dream and reality was the will power to make it happen. Dozens of young people from Sri Lanka and all over the world have passed through the ICES and the Law and Society Trust in the last 20 ye ars. When the news of Tiruchelvam’s death hit the world press, phone calls and e-mail came pouring in. Many wept uncontrollably for the man who had often given them their first research idea, who had encouraged their natural creativity, and who was alway s willing to give them responsibility. His legacy is worldwide and the enormous international response is partly owing to the activism of these young people. I am certain they will not allow Tiruchelvam’s name to be forgotten.

Many of the young people and interns who came to the ICES were feminists, who were drawn to its feminist research programme. Tiruchelvam was particularly interested in feminist theory and its contribution to legal paradigms and he closely followed their work. When he died, the news was contained on all the leading feminist e-mail networks with special tributes, a rare privilege for a man in a very woman’s world. His last act at the centre was to encourage me with words and ideas to deal with some of the long-term issues raised by the problem of women, ethnicity and armed conflict, a lecture I was to give in Geneva as part of an ICES lecture series. He had inaugurated this lecture series against all odds to correspond with the meetings of the U.N. Worki ng Group on Minorities. He was delighted when Mary Robinson agreed to chair this meeting, put together by a Third World NGO. He read my script in detail and gave me extensive notes, as he had done throughout my working life. He was the “safety net” for m any people and many institutions. Despite his severe commitments, Tiruchelvam gave every research colleague and intern his full attention, read their work and made detailed suggestions. That is how seriously he took the world of ideas.

Tiruchelvam’s interest in ethnicity was not only political but cultural. He pushed the ICES to organise cultural events. He loved films and, as a result, the centre organised a South Asian Documentary Film Festival for many years. Contemporary films were screened at the ICES. He invited musicians and dancers from different parts of South Asia to give demonstrations and lectures. Leading exponents of Kathak, Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music have passed through the portals of the ICES Colombo.
Tiruchelvam’s interest in culture was not limited to specific events; it was also about everyday life. If a visitor came from abroad, he or she was given the typical “Neelan tour”. They were taken to the Gotami Vihara, where the chief priest often showed them the George Keyt paintings. They were then taken on a tour of the Dutch remnants of the Fort area and, finally, at dusk, they were taken to the temple in Dehiwela, with the Buddha with the Sapphire Eyes. The priest would light the lamp near the eyes of the Buddha and after that sight, enlightenment always had a special meaning.

His love for culture was not merely confined to the culture of Sri Lanka but of entire South Asia. He collected books and compact discs on all of South Asia. He loved South Indian bronzes; Moghul miniatures and the Sakyamuni Buddha adorned his office. He would hold conferences in the ancient cities of South Asia and before he went to these cities he would study their history and culture. At the conference he would give all the participants a guided tour of the monuments and places of worship. Nothing ma de him happier than discovering the history and culture of South Asia.

Tiruchelvam and his wife were generous to a fault; they were hospitable to everyone. Tiruchelvam had time for every human being who came to see him – rich or poor, strong or weak. He would go to extraordinary lengths to help people. If he believed someon e’s story he would leave no stone unturned in his effort to help them. A young couple was weeping in a corner at his funeral house. I asked them their name. They said they were Wijesinghe. They said that for every problem they would call Tiruchelvam for advice. There were hundreds of such people, including my mother and her many widowed friends. He would always have time for them and he always came up with suggestions and solutions.

Despite his love of scholarship, Tiruchelvam was also a man who believed that ideas should be put into practice. For this, against the advice of friends and family, he joined the world of politics. He tried to ensure that the ideas he had for constitutio nal law and multi-culturalism were sustained by his involvement in politics. He enthusiastically joined any attempt to change constitutions and ethnic politics. He tried to influence constitution drafting. He was instrumental in setting up the Official L anguage Commission; much of the legislation was drafted in his office. He greatly assisted the Ombudsman and the Human Rights Commission and was helping to prepare a draft Equal Protection Commission.

Since his father was a leading Tamil politician, Tiruchelvam entered politics through the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). He was deeply concerned about the Tamil people and their aspirations. He implored the Government to act with restraint in cond ucting the war. He was always for a negotiated solution. But being a pacifist and being non-violent to the core, he put his energies into drafting constitutions and creating human rights institutions in government as well as civil society.

Tamil politics nurtured Tiruchelvam and it was Tamil politics that killed him. He would spend a lot of time caring for individual Tamil victims of the war and emergency regulations. He would voice strong criticism (even if it was done in private) and hel ped the government agents in the various war-affected areas articulate their grievances about the needs of the civilian population. Several hours were spent on the telephone pleading his case with the powers that be. He was not always successful but he n ever stopped trying, believing that dialogue and discussion were the only way forward. The Tamils have lost a powerful voice that articulated their grievances within the democratic fabric of Sri Lanka.

His involvement in political life encouraged many of his civil society activities. He was a great believer in parliamentary democracy and the independence of the judiciary. He believed in the primacy of electoral politics. At the ICES, he inaugurated a p rogramme of elections monitoring for all of South Asia. The ICES brought together leaders of civil society and he took them to monitor elections in Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and even Sri Lanka. When the process of constitutional drafting was on, he gathered all the leading intellectuals of the region at seminars and discussions to get their inputs into the process. He was passionately committed to non-violence and a democratic process. That was more important to him than ethnic ideology. He use d the democratic process to further the interests of the Tamil-speaking people but he was interested in all aspects of democratic life. His institutions of civil society were actively engaged in ensuring that his democratic vision would have concrete man ifestations.

Several people believed that Tiruchelvam was the most brilliant product of his generation. He was not only an ideas man. He created dynamic institutions both in civil society and in the government. His commitment to institution-building was unparalleled in South Asia. He was a creative, imaginative person who was also blessed with a practical, analytical mind. His death must not end with the triumph of mediocrity and barbarism in a country often filled with despair. It is important that his legacy be co ntinued and that those whom he relied upon help make his vision a reality.

With the death of Tiruchelvam, the world has lost a man who dreamed impossible dreams and made them a reality. Sri Lanka has lost a democrat and a peace-maker; the Tamil people have lost a man who deeply cared for their security and their aspirations; hi s colleagues have lost their inspiration and his commitment to excellence; his friends have lost his generosity and nurturing ways and his family has lost a loyal and caring husband and father. We are all poorer without him. As a columnist recently wrote : “We always kill the best.” But in responding to his killing we must heed the views of his son Mithran. When a reporter of The New York Times asked him what his father would have felt about the assassination, Mithran replied that his father would not have been angry, he would have only been sad.

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at dbsjeyaraj2005@yahoo.com
DBS Jeyaraj………… July 28th 2009


  1. It’s a pity that a man of his calibre was killed by the LTTE. Today the Tamil people must be really missing him. His loss was terrible to the whole country.

    We are keenly waiting for your daily mirror article on him , Mr. Jeyaraj

  2. I am personally aware that Dr. Tiruchelvam has helped a lot of people of all communities. But very few of them admit this openly or acknowledge him.

    What I like about you Mr. Jeyaraj is that you are one of the few Tamils who always expressed your gratitude and appreciation of what he did.

    I note with admiration your exchange of words with late Kumar Ponnambalam in defence of Neelan at a time when the TULF cowards simply kept quiet.

    Loyalty is indeed priseworthy

    Neelan’s loss is irreplaceable for Tamils. History will vindicate Tiruchelvam

  3. It is very good you remembered him after long these years in time. And your memories are not dead yet Annna.. Keep up your cool work. I hope Mr. Neelam will be R.I.P. But past is past, we need to move forward. I think you are another best person to lead our North & East part. I have given my email address.. Please call me nor mail me.

    Anbudan & Aathareyen,

  4. We lost many talented Tamil souls to blood thirst VP. VP never understood these leaders are the fabric and strength of our Tamil society.

    Losses inflicted by LTTE will continue haunt our society for many more years. I wonder, are we able to ever resurrect from the losses we suffered at the of hand LTTE and SLA, Very doubtful.

  5. What is despicable here is the silence of the Tamil intellectuals over the killings that were carried out by our so called liberation fighters. Even most of them went to the extent of justifying such killing in the name of liberation struggle.

    Our society lost all the moral values that were passed on to us over thousand years through various Tamil and religious teachings in the last 25 years and became a society that accepted Maos wisdom Power comes from the barrel of a gun. It is the society that paying the price for the loss of the great souls not VP. He is dead and that put an end to his miseries. Very sad and tragic losses, It will never be the same without these leaders.

    Neelan Thiruselvam
    Sarogini Yogeswaran
    Sam Thambimuthu
    Kala Thambimuthu
    Senator Nadaraja
    Rajini Thirnagama
    Panjalingam GA
    Ramanathan AGA
    Never ending list

  6. My dear tamil brothers and sisters.

    Though I know not Neelan Thiruchelvam – I do know OF him. We sinhalese also share your loss as through that loss we encountered only bloodbath by the LTTE. Sinhalese also died – Athulathmudali, Gamini and coultless others. We all share the guilt of futuring the ‘Boys’ as the LTTE was fondly called. and we still do.

    For Neelan sake please wake upto reality. Violence is not the way forward.

  7. Pingback: indi.ca » Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities

  8. Neelan was a giant and his loss will be felt for generations to come. Who could possibly have benefitted by his death? We have all lost and Sri Lanka may have been in a very different place if Neelan had been with us to guide us as he did so naturally. Thank you for providing us the opportunity to pay tribute to him ten years on.

  9. Credibility of people like Radhika Coomaraswamy is in question when they fail to speak up for the opressed Tamils, but only focus on the mistakes/atrocities of the Tamil rebels. I do not recall any strong statements when the Tamils were being killed this year in thousands or now about the IDPs. May be quiet diplomacy……..private phone calls? Well, there is nothing to show as results.

  10. Dear DBSJ,
    For my enlightenment that of those Sri Lankans who never bothered to investigate why people were getting eliminated by LTTE in the past and what reasons were given, I would like to know the reasons/justifications given by LTTE for killing the following people:

    Neelan Thiruchelvam
    Rajani Thiranagama

    I am sure you will remember the justifications given by LTTE.
    I vaguely remember reasons given after these killings but I was never interested in what was going on and now with the benefit of hindsight I wish I made an effort. Your responsre to this, I am sure will wake lot of blind LTTE supporters up.

    Great appreciation for Dr Neelan.


    Tharmalingam and Alalasundaram were killed by the TELO not the LTTE. As for Neelan, Amir & Rajini the LTTE has not OFFICIALLY claimed CREDIT for the assassinations. But all of them were depicted as “traitors” in pro – tiger media

  11. That such a supremely talented man, who could give so much to his plural society and the world around him was destroyed in such a diabolic and violent fashion was symbolic of the depth to which our once tranquil society had declined to. His crime was that he was in the process of producing a via medium of political accommodation by which the country can get back to the path of unity and reconciliation. Those sick minds that hijacked the Tamil cause from the path of peaceful agitation that Neelan and his father were part of to that of the gun and the grenade have not only destroyed a precious life but, as events showed us in recent times, brought untold suffering to millions of Tamils
    all over the land who have lost their homes, land, families and even their self-respect In the conspiracy to kill this enormously talented man what was eliminated was not just an individual but an entire culture of learning and civilisational ethos that firmly stood for the resolution of political crises by peaceful negotiation however long and arduous. This was the 1st of Neelans memorials I missed to be present personally. But like to many the memory of this giant Lankan intellectual and humble man will remain in our memory and encourage us to search for that path of unity and peace the realization of which will be our greatest gift to him. Sithie and her dedicated team of colleagues at the ICES lead by Thambirajah should be thanked for keeping alive the fragrant memories of one of the finest sons of the Lankan soil.


  12. LTTE destroyed SL. I wonder why all these Tamils who were with Piriharan when he killed Army personnel now cry for only one part of the victims.These people still never recognised the loos Piriharan created by killing Mr.Kadiragamar! Not only that.LTTE killed innocent Singhalese engineers who came to open up the Kankasanturai cement factory and many others. North and east and west and south belong to all Sri Lankans.Ganesh please remeber that.Dont say our East and North>It belongs to all Sri Lankans as people there use SL government money to study ,make roads,hospitals or anything!!!

  13. Person who doesn’t have any education can only keep the dummy’s to follow him. that’s the only reason that this person have to kill any one who talks or do anything that make sence.

  14. Person who doesn’t have any education can only keep the dummy’s to follow him. that’s the only reason that VP have to kill any one who talks or do anything that make sence.

  15. No matter they are Tamil or Sinhalese, the country need
    professional and intelligent people who can see through
    the lies to expose the truth. Neelan could have done a greater service had he not been killed by blood thirsty ,
    separatist LTTE.

    The whole world is becoming a global village and we need
    people like Neelan to bridge the gaps between petty issues which keep communities apart from each other..

  16. History repeats itself. The Tamils killed the Sinhalese and the Sinhalese in turn. But the irony is that the Tamils killing the Tamils. The Tamils will not have any intelectuals like Neelan Thiruchelvam in the future. People like him come to this world once in a while. I would not call him as a politician but a rare intelectual. There is none to replace him.

  17. Neelam is just one victim of over 70,000 Sri Lankans killed due to the Tamil terrorists’ useless, senseless but profitable-to-a-few, war.

    You and the likes still seem to be refusing to realize that IT WAS THE MAJORITY OF SRI LANKANS… NEVER THE TAMILS…. who were victimized, discriminated for over 25+ years.

    Sri Lankans only look forward… forward and forward in order to achieve better days for all Sri Lankans… You try in vain to divert us to harp in the Tamils past glory and our divisions.

    Good Luck!

  18. It is sad that we lost so many leaders as well as so many young men. LTTE made a big mistake by using suicide bombers as a solution. No liberation can be achieved by killing unarmed persons. Tamils had all the resources in the world, but never had unity and statesmanship. Let Dr.Neelan rest in heaven

  19. A durable solution to the ‘ethnic question’ is almost certain to involve greater regional autonomy, something which can benefit people of all communities. Many Sinhalese members of the political elite in Colombo would much rather grab resources for themselves and their cronies than use these to pay for better education and healthcare for the poor in the deep South of Sri Lanka.

    Such devolution need not be a threat to ‘unity’. Numerous countries have vigorous local democracy, unlike the over-centralised system in Sri Lanka, and this has helped rather than hindered a sense of common purpose. Suppressing local distinctiveness and imposing control from afar only fuels resentment and leads to poor decision-making: politicians and bureaucrats running things from a distance, with little understanding of local conditions or accountability to local people, can all too easily make costly blunders.

    The above two paragraphs taken from the article “Beyond the time-warp in Sri Lanka” by Savitri Hensman, read together with the following paragraph in the above article “The way forward in Sri Lanka: Demilitarisation, the rule of law and democratization” by Rohini Hensman

    “Even the demand for devolution needs to be reframed as a demand for democratisation that brings government closer to all the people, not just minorities, apart from being made far stronger than the 13th Amendment, which has loopholes allowing the Centre to take back the devolved powers. Along with the demand for abolition of the Executive Presidency, and further devolution to smaller units, it would give all the people of Sri Lanka more control over their lives, instead of having their lives ruled by a remote power in Colombo that knows little and cares less about their needs”.

    has to be kept in mind while reading the suggestions given below that addresses most of the points raised by the authors quoted above.:

    The best concept for a viable political political solution to address the problems faced by various sections of the Sri Lankan society – particularly the poor, the politically weak and the “minorities” – based not only on ethnicity but also on power, wealth, influence and those who do not carry any “political weight” – would be to DILUTE the powers of all elected representatives of the people by separating the various powers of the Parliament and by horizontally empowering different sets of people’s representatives elected on different area basis to administer the different sets of the separated powers at different locations.

    It has to be a “meaningful power sharing” arrangement that is done HORIZONTALLY where each and every set of representatives would be in the SAME LEVEL as equals and in par and NOT VERTICALLY, where one set of representatives would be above (more powerful than) the other, which is the normal adopted practice when talking of devolution, in this power-hungry world. It is because “devolution of power” has been evolved “vertically”, we have all the trouble in this power-hungry world. So, for sustainable peace it should not be the present form of “devolution of power” but “dilution of powers” or “meaningful sharing of powers” in such a way that no single person or single set of people’s representatives be “superior” to another.

    This system would help to eradicate injustice, discrimination, bribery and corruption – the four pillars of an evil society – and help to establish the “Rule of Law” and “Rule by ALL” for sustainable peace, tranquility and prosperity and a pleasant harmonious living with dignity and respect for all the inhabitants in the country. Everyone must have “equal” powers, rights, duties and responsibilities and most importantly everyone should be deemed “equal” and treated “equally” before the law not only on paper but also practically – be it the Head of State, The Chief Justice or the voiceless and weightless poor of the poorest in the country.

  20. It is indeed very depressing and sad when these killings are reminded. What a great loss of a Constitutional lawyer and a scholar for nothing! More pathetic was the justification of some educated fools who tried their best to justify these killings then. Now they also have simply disappeared without any noise.

    Maran # 5: Not that VP never understood these leaders are the fabric and strength of our Tamil society. He fully understood that and that was the sole reason to kill them all and to survive as one and only Methahu Leader.

    Thank God – Neelan had a decent funeral whereas his killers bodies were dumped without any trace.

  21. Neelan was a loss to everyone. Even to his enemies (i.e LTTE). Neelan’s assasination triggered the ban of the LTTE in the USA. Neelan was well respected by President Clinton. If i am correct Clinton did attend some lectures that were given by Neelan. I am not sure I read somewhere. i could be wrong. But whatever it is Neelan and Lakshman Kadhirgarmar should have been on the LTTE side. If that had happened today LTTE would have got their separate state. Instead they wiped out the very people that could have bought them success.

  22. If our thalaivar ordered to kill Neelam, there must be solid reasons for that. Our thalaivar never killed any one without reasons. Rest is sinhala propaganda.

    Thalaivar is the only true leader Srilanka had ever seen. His dream was to convert whole island to Tamil Eelam. Then annex Tamil nadu and make a Big Eelam. Then we will be super most powerful country in the world. We Tamils who has best brains in the world can control the whole world and enjoy. Thalaivar would have been the powerful person than US president. I have contributed money whole hardheartedly every month for this dream. My friend also. Some Europian countries ditched our thalaivar. They told him start the war and they will interfere at a time when Thalaivar wishes. It did not happen. May be our thalaivar is still alive and appear on heroic day .

  23. He wasn’t a loss for just one community or a race but for the whole country. Look at his serene features and gentleman like looks, the way he speaks and the power of his words, his vision for all of us; all, indications of a noble breed and great upbringing. What a waste! How many more like him.

  24. to comment 24 ajith

    you quote that “whatever it is neelan and lakshman should have been on the ltte side”. unquote. how can they be when the objectives differ. ltte objective is eelam. these two were looking at the fact that so many tamils are living with the sinhalese, including themslves, so eelam is a selfish objective that does not care for the fellow tamil brethren. also it is not achievable, worthwile and cost effective. so they were working towards getting the best possible deal for all the tamils. rajiv also tried to do that. a “malayalee modaya” wiped them all out.

  25. What a great man, what an irreparable loss for both sri lankan tamil community and the mother lanka.

    How many such great people were killed by morons who wanted to be the sole representative of tamils by killing all other representatives of tamils.

  26. As a mark of respect to this gentleman and many others who were brutally asasinated by the LTTE, the Tamil community should rally together and engage in a constructive dialogue with the SriLankan regime to find a way to live peacefully.

  27. I have been reading your article regularly and you are one source which wakes up some Diaspora to think that, Is LTTE really helps tamils to get freedom.
    LTTE had been killing so many people without justification (with or without killing is not solution)
    Do you by any chance why LTTE killed this talented person? I know that you cant speak behalf these killer, but at least some led?

    Thank You DBS J

  28. Mr. Ratnarajah,

    I know that Hillary met the Thiruchelvam’s when she visited Sri Lanka and condoled his death, but I don’t think the Clintons had time for his lectures, either in SL or the US; and to say Neelan’s assassination triggered the ban of the LTTE in the US is overkill.

    The LTTE had accumulated such a negative record and CBK had initially shown some promise of being liberal, that it would have been easy for anyone to ban them.

    Even if both Neelan and Kadirgamar, despite their liberal instincts being against pure ethnic nationalism of the LTTE variety, had supported the LTTE, Tamils would still not have got a separate state; India would have stood there as the 800-pound gorilla blocking it.

  29. to comment 31 -expatriate

    you are quite correct about the 800 pounder. but you forgot the 2000 pound panda. sometime during this century srilankans will become slant eyed.

  30. DBS Jeyaraj,
    Reading many of your articles of the the current topics made one thing very clear.As a new gneration, to understand the different politics in this era is much complicated and complexed. But still we continue to read and learn, because it is very important for the future prospects.Reading about Dr Neelan, good presentation 10 long years ago.
    I had the previlage of sitting down for a lunch together with Dr Neelan at a wedding ceremony of my good friend from HNB in Colombo in the year 1991 at Bambalapitiya Hindu Temple. I was just released from remand prison Welikade, he was so sympathetic for my plight and giving some advice.
    We lost him.

  31. The camerouge style elemination of intelectuals is the hall mark of mindless authoritarianism.Intelectuals were intimidated or eleminated. Silent majority survived, innocent idealists payed the price.And what a price the world paid in the loss of Neelan.
    History will repeat itself unless the masses wake up and demand a bill of fundamental individual rights for all citizens.

  32. Cocooned in their unipolar realm VP and his sycophants neither comprehended or nor sought to understand the multidimensionality of the societal organism. As Chris Gulkar underlined in his 2001 article Diversity and Tolerance, tolerance breeds diversity and diversity breeds strength. With only a flirtatious affinity to wisdom through the pseudo-intellectualism of Anton Balansingham ,VP and his coterie, not so surprisingly, could not grasp the essentiality of learning and the learned for societal progress.

    Killing Dr. Neelan was a grave crime against humanity. I wish VP and his close aides had been caught alive and made answerable to all the senseless murders perpetrated in the name of liberation. Ironically, VPs death deprived his victims of the justice they deserve. As DBS so rightly pointed out, VP was the greatest traitor to the Tamil cause.

  33. Where we go from here. Today we lost everything, every one rallied around to kill our liberation and freedom. Where we go from here?. Please talk about it. don’t let our struggle die down. Where we go from here?.. speak up please.

  34. Rajiv 35

    VP was the greatest traitor to the Tamil cause, No doubt about that. I have been saying that for long time. Kaakai vannian, Ettappan and VP are greatest traitors all time.

    Little VP expected someone will brand him as traitor.

  35. “In the late 1980s, Tiruchelvam and Ignatieff were Harvard colleagues, preaching human rights from the same hymn book. When Tiruchelvam was blown up, Ignatieff traveled to Sri Lanka to deliver a lecture in the man’s honour. A year later, he described the experience in a speech at the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression awards dinner in Toronto.

    Neelan Tiruchelvam, Ignatieff declared, was “a man whose memory I revere.” But that wasn’t the prevailing view among many of the noisiest members of the Canadian Tamil community: “When the word got out that I was going to give a lecture in Colombo in his honour, I began to get very extraordinary bits of Tamil literature, mailed to me with a Canadian postmark. And the sum and substance of these newsletters was basically to say that Neelan, my good friend, got what he deserved. This was a man who’d spent his ENTIRE LIFE seeking peace and reconciliation on that bloody and tragic island. And it shocked me deeply to discover that the people who wished and rejoiced in his death were fellow citizens of [Canada] … Don’t think it doesn’t put a chill down your spine when you get mysterious little missives like that.”Jonathan Kay;5 May,2009.National Post.

  36. Pandiadurai # 25

    You are totally correct. Thalaivar is alive and he gave me his bank account number. . Will you make your contributions to that account and show your solidarity to Tamil Eelam.
    What is your e mail address? If I post the bank account number here DBS will not post it. He is jealous that our Thalaivar is rich!

  37. Pandiadurai # 25

    Don’t trust 39. Amirthakaliyan.

    Thalaiavar didn’t give the bank account to Amirthakalyan.

    Amirthakaliyan sounds like Amirthalingam… rite?

    Thalaivar is not that fool. I am the sole representative of your Thalaivar. I got the bank bank the account. Let me have your email mate, Make your contribution ASAP.

  38. Only the name of Prabakaran is mentioned with regard to all LTTE massacres. I have a suspicion that most of high profile murders were the ideas of Antom Balasingham although VP gave the final orders. I attribute to him the attacks on Sri Maha Bodhi as well as Dalada Maligawa too. He was the serpent who positioned the murderer.

  39. I still remember the day Neelam was killed by that
    megalamaniac. I was discussing this murder with a very good Tamil friend of mine and his eyes were brimming.
    So many good people were killed by idiots like VP in the past.
    Neelam’s death was a very sad loss for the whole of
    Sri Lanka,

    I notice that there are lot of people coming out of
    wood work to bag VP now. Couple of months ago,
    he was a hero who sacrified his life for the Tamil cause.
    According to some writers, now VP is the worst
    traitor the Tamil community ever had.
    Therefore, getting rid of him is a good thing and
    MR & Co. and those fine young Sri Lankans who sacrified their lives should be thanked for that.

  40. Neelan was a gentleman of the highest order who won the appreciation of even the most hardline singhalese. It is tragic that Pirapaharan was allowed to destroy so many tamil intellectuals. One can’t imagine the time, money, education spent to make a man like neelan, and it just shows that the LTTE did more harm in the long run to the tamil cause than anyone else. The road junction where he died is still decorated and is a constant reminder of the great man.

  41. I remember when I used to be a corporate lawyer in Mumbai (India) over eleven years ago, whenever any work had to be referred to a Sri Lankan law firm, Tiruchelvam Associates was the first name that came up. I don’t think Tiruchelvam Associates’ reputation has gone down even after the stalwart was brutally assassinated.

  42. He was indeed a great loss to tamils, it was one of the worst thing LTTTE did. However, there is a lot of LTTE/VP bashing going on here. Let’s just be real, everyone talks like LTTE is only bad guy and everyone else is pure angels. Give me a break, where do I start? For the record, the biggest terrorist and evil of all is the SL goverments and its military. Each goverment were mainly consisted of racist, fascist and even some criminals. The military, bunch of thugs who burn children and women alive. Let’s not even go to the so called former tamil militant groups who became ‘democratic’ and joined the government. What a disgrace for these criminals? When I was in Jaffna during the IPKF time, these EPs were abducting teenages right off the street. That was so scary. Let’s not even talk about the attrocities and terror these groups unleashed at their own people. Criminals like Douglos are much worse than VP. And don’t forget the butcher of Sri Lanka Honorable Premedasa. and the IPKF criminals.. man what a messed up country that we are from. Everyone has blood in their hand, so don’t just bash on VP or LTTE.

  43. to pandiathurai-comment 25

    dont trust both comment 39 &40 amirthakalian and maran. they are both frauds. before thalaivar died he told to save the wildlife that is getting extinct such as tiger, rhinocerous etc. i have the bank account number. what is your email mate.

  44. LTTE did more harm in the long run to the tamil cause than anyone else.

    So we should unite to get rid of smuggler KP.

  45. Pandiathurai-comment 25 – I am telling you again. Do not trust
    46. shankar who looks like KP’s man. Maran is Nediyavan’s first cousin. I know Maran personally becos we went to school together. He is a fraud. If you send money to my account I will see that it reaches VP definitely. I promise.

    We need more people like you who are willing to financially contribute to the cause instead of writing lengthy comments here. This is the problem with Tamils. All talks and no action.

    Pleasesss! What is your e mail address? The more you contribute the more you will ripe from Tamil Eelam Kaapagam.

  46. Pandiathurai- 25

    Thanks mate, I got the money.

    Both 39. Amirthakaliyan and 46. shankar underestimated you. You had training under our Athimethau Thalivar. I mentioned about these two guys to our Thalaivar. Thalaivar assured me Pottu will take care of them. Just matter of time, you know, we dont forgive and forget Thurokis.

    We need more money. MR asking our Thalaivar to pay back all the money that was given to our Thaliavar as gift for boycotting the president election in 2005. I am sure you can help Thalaivar with this.

    By the way, Dont read too much DBSJ… you know he is RAW.

  47. DBSJ,

    Do you remember me from the mists of time at ICES?

    Neelen was special as he in my limited view was possibly the only true renaissance mind of our contemporary Sri Lankan history. He was above all humane and engaged without ever becoming a bigot. He had an inspirational vigour to the pursuit of his beliefs and passions that was truly infectious.

    We have had men and women of as good intellect but rarely with the moral fibre to stay authentic, or as accessible and committed to the exchange of ideas as opposed to the theoretical waffle or egocentric and often intellectually dishonest or compromised agendas of our intelligensia.

    What happened to the draft on Equal Opportunity Commission -can this be resurrected ?

    Shehara de silva(nee Parakrama)


    Of course I remember you well Shehara and very glad to hear from you. If you please send me an e- mail to dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com and/or djeyaraj2005@yahoo.com I can get back to you. Hope everything’s ok with you and my regards to your brother Arjuna

  48. Mr DBS. Well written article of a great intellectual the Tamil and the in General the humanity lost.

    But you had not mentioned about his parents his brother and sister and his wi9fe and children etc.

    Pls write about Dr Lakshman Kadirgammar also.

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