Lasantha Wickrematunge Remained Unbowed and Unafraid to the Very End

Fifth Death Anniversary of the Assassinated “The Sunday Leader” Editor By D.B.S.Jeyaraj I vividly remember that long night in Toronto on January 7th/8th 2009 which was daytime in Colombo.The telephone rang while I was reading a magazine article on the wildlife in Sri Lanka. It was Dushi (Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai). She broke the news that Lasantha …

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Thirty Sixth Birth Anniversary of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj Hello Friends The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which determined the course of Sri Lankan politics for more than two decades is no more a functional entity today. The LTTE would have celebrated its 36th birth anniversary on May 5th if it was an active organization now. Adverse developments on the …

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“Operation Holdfast”: Contours of a Coup Conspiracy

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj 50th Anniversary of Attempted 1962 Coup D’etat – 2 “Operation Holdfast” was the codename given by a group of conspirators to a plot devised to overthrow the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Government headed by the world’s first woman Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike through a bloodless coup d’etat in January 1962. Sirima …

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50th Anniversary of abortive coup d’etat conspiracy in January 1962

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj Fifty years ago on Sunday January 28th 1962 the people of the Island nation known then as “Ceylon” were rocked by a special news bulletin in the afternoon on “Radio Ceylon” (Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation)that interrupted regular programming . The shocking announcement repeated ad nauseam by a male voice on Radio stated …

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Christmas and New Year Greetings and Wishes Everybody

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj Hello Friends Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! The Many Faces of Christmas – Shaped Wooden Puzzle from Sri Lanka~ Photographed by Mary Harrsch at an exhibit of over 900 nativity scenes hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Eugene, Oregon, USA For Sri Lanka the war ended …

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Fifth death anniversary of TNA Jaffna MP Nadarajah Raviraj

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj Hello Friends, It was on November 10th 2006 that Nadarajah Raviraj was brutally gunned down along with his Police bodyguard in broad daylight near his residence in Colombo. Five years have passed and no one has been punished for the murders of the Tamil National Alliance(TNA) MP from Jaffna district nor Sgt.Lakshman …

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Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra: A tragic anti-hero

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra , gunned down brutally on October 8th 2011 was a vibrant personality who could be portrayed as an “anti-hero” of real life. The circumstances of his untimely end casts him in the mould of a tragic anti-hero. In literature, stage and screen an anti-hero is a complex character with …

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Fr. Jim Brown: Mystery of the missing priest

Hello Friends Five years ago on August 20th Fr. Thiruchelvam Nihal Jim Brown a Catholic Priest serving in the Jaffna Diocese and Wenceslaus Vimaladhas a Catholic layman went missing in the north. Aug 20th 2006 was a Sunday and Fr.Jim Brown assisted in the morning mass at Kayts.He left Kayts at 12.30 pm on a …

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Sivaji Ganesan: A doyen among actors in Tamil cinema

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj Hello Friends Sivaji Ganesan who passed away on July 21st 2001 is widely regarded as the greatest thespian of post-independence Tamil cinema. This doyen among Tamil actors was one of my favourites. Like many of my generation I memorized the dialogue from “Veera Pandiya Kattabomman” during my childhood and repeated them with …

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‘Brigadier’ Balraj: Legendary commander of the LTTE

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj (continued from last week) With the Indian army dislodging the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) from its entrenched positions in the Jaffna peninsula through “Operation Pawan” and other military exercises the tigers began re-locating in large numbers to the northern mainland known as the “Wanni”. The LTTE’s number two Gopalaswamy Mahendrarajah alias …

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Brigadier Balraj: LTTE’s fearless frontline commander

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj Three days in May (17th -19th) marked the second anniversary of the total military defeat suffered by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE). While a large number of senior LTTE leaders and military commanders including tiger supremo Veluppillai Prabhakaran met with their end during this period the greatest LTTE military commander of them …

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Satyagraha receives “Baptism of fire” on first day

by D.B.S Jeyaraj

The batch of volunteers from the Kankesanthurai(KKS) electorate led by Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) leader Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam commenced their Satyagraha campaign opposite the Jaffna Kachcheri premises at 7. 30 am on February 20th 1961.

It must be noted that the Jaffna Kachcheri was not housed then in the present building where it is situated now along the Jaffna –Kandy road or A-9 highway in the Chundikkuli area of Jaffna city.

The Kachcheri then was right opposite where it is now. The Kachcheri buildings were on the same Jaffna –Kandy highway on the other side of the road. Those premises were later called the Old Kachcheri building after the present two – storey new building was constructed.

Non-violent direct action campaign begins in Jaffna

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The Throne Speech outlining the policies and plans of the new Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Government of Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike was delivered on August 12th 1960.

Chelvanayakam known as “Thanthai Chelva” (father) at Satyagraha

In a move that pleased the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) known in English as the Federal Party (FP) a Tamil translation was read out simultaneously . The tone and content of the Throne speech was a disappointment to the party as it did not make any reference to matters pertaining to the setting up of district councils and implementation of Tamil language in the administrative and judicial spheres.

50th Anniversary of 1961 Tamil “Satyagraha” campaign

By D.B.S.JEYARAJ

“Thus the violence of the oppressor silenced the non-violence of the oppressed; the armed might of Sinhala chauvinism crushed the ahimsa of the Tamils. This historical event marked the beginning of a political experience that was crucial to the Tamil national struggle, an experience that taught the Tamils that the moral power of non-violence could not consume the military power of a violent oppressor whose racial hatred transcends all ethical norms of humanness and civilized behaviour.

To the oppressor this event encouraged the view that military terrorism is the only answer to the Tamil demand and that the non-violent foundation of the Tamil political agitation is a weak and impotent structure against the barrel of the gun.” – Anton Balasingham in LTTE booklet “Liberation Tigers and Tamil Eelam Freedom Struggle”

February 20th 1961 is a very important date in the history of the Sri Lankan Tamil political struggle to regain lost rights.

S.J.V. Chelvanayakam

It was on this day, fifty years ago that the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) known in English as the Federal Party (FP) led by SJV Chelvanayakam commenced a non – violent direct action campaign against the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Government headed by the world’s first woman Prime minister Sirima Bandaranaike.

Terrible truth of the Trincomalee tragedy

Hello Friends,

Compliments of the Season and Greetings for New Year.

A New Year dawns and the nation gears up to face what lies ahead.

In a reflective mood I went through some of the articles I had written in the past particularly about incidents of human rights violations in the North and East. One thing that struck me was that justice has not been done in most of those cases. No person has been penalised for these crimes so far. There is a climate of impunity

Remembering Lakshman Kadirgamar on Fifth Anniversary of his Death

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was killed on August 12th 2005. This article written in August 2005 for “The Sunday Leader” is reproduced here to commemorate the fifth anniversary of his death.It has been shortened)

Lakshman Kadirgamar ~ (April 12, 1932 – August 12, 2005)

Independence dawned for Sri Lanka then Ceylon on February 4th 1948. The union jack was lowered and the national flag raised at the stroke of midnight. Even as the flag fluttered proudly four young athletes carrying flaming torches entered the square and ran up the steps of Independence hall. Together they lit the lamp of freedom.

Mrs. Bandaranaike: The world’s first woman Prime Minister

by D.B. S. Jeyaraj

Hello Friends

Today July 21st is the 50th anniversary of Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike becoming Prime Minister of Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon. Needless to say she made history then as the world’s first woman prime minister and put the Island nation on the global map.

I thought of remembering on this historically important date this remarkable woman who made a lasting impact on the fate of her country.

SWRD Bandaranaike: Assassination of a Prime Minister

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

September 26th 1959 is an important date in the post-independence history of Sri Lanka. It was on this day fifty years ago that the Prime Minister Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (SWRDB) of the then Ceylon passed away . He had been shot the previous day by a Buddhist priest.

The past decades have seen hundreds of political assassinations in Sri Lanka. Both Tamil and Sinhala armed groups have been responsible for these killings at different times and locations.

An executive President, leader and former leader of the opposition, cabinet ministers and ex-cabinet ministers, Parliamentarians and former Parliamentarians, provincial council ministers, heads of district councils and local authorities have all been assassinated. A head of state survived an assassination attempt but lost an eye.

The assassinations of those who held or were holding high political office have been so numerous in recent times that most people have lost count of such assassinations.

SWRD Bandaranaike

Against this backdrop the solitary assassination that occurred 50 years ago may seem insignificant to some. What has to be remembered is that the incident was the first of its type in independent Sri Lanka. The impact of that single assassination was tremendous at that time. It is pertinent therefore to delve into that assassination and its aftermath fifty years later on this day.

Visiting the I.D.P. camps: A subjective experience

Hello Friends,

It was on July 22nd that I posted an article by Lilani Jayatilaka on this blog with my heading “A Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Sri Lanka”?.

As I stated in my introduction the article in question had appeared in the “Sunday Island” of July 12th 2009 under the heading “Healing Memories:Lessons to be learnt from the South African Experience”.

Here is what I wrote then-“There was an excellent article offering much food for thought in the “Sunday Island” of July 12th 2009 by Lilani Jayatilaka that focused on the lessons of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

The article was inspired by Bishop Desmond Tutu’s book “No Future Without Forgiveness”. The book is on the findings of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission which Bishop Tutu chaired.
Lilani who is experienced in counselling emphasises how important it is for the people of this land to speak out about their grief, suffering and sorrow.

Reading and re-reading this article was an uplifting experience for me and I want to share it with you all.”

The article did result in making people think and there were quite a lot of comments. Some of these expressed very clear thoughts.

Still I was sorry that many who commented seemed to have either missed what Lilani was trying to say or misunderstood her.

An erudite observer who is perhaps Lilani’s “best friend” said it best in a personal e-mail to me.

I am excerpting the relevant paragraph here without revealing the writer’s identity.

“Reading some of the responses it is clear that some of those who had responded have not understood Lilani’s point correctly.

Wretched of the Wanni earth break free of bondage

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Latest developments on the Wanni war front have brought much relief to all people yearning for the safety of entrapped civilians in the coastal strip of northern Mullaitivu district currently controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The long awaited military operation to break through Tiger defences and facilitate the evacuation of civilians that began at midnight on Sunday April 19 has been a success in terms of numbers.

By Thursday April 24 around 103,000 people from Palammaathalan, Ambalavanpokkanai and Puthumaathalan areas had been freed from what was in reality an open prison.

Since the Government had not geared itself up to handle such large numbers the officials both military and civil are struggling to cope with the large influx.

Adieu 2008! Bienvenue 2009 !!

This is the time when the world rings out the old year and rings in the New Year.

Adieu 2008! Bienvenue 2009.

The ushering in of a new year is usually a happy ,festive occasion. It is a time of renewed hope where we look forward to the future with optimistic confidence.

I must confess that I was in no buoyant mood on December 31st. Reflecting on the sad events of 2008 simply made me gloomy and despondent. The loss of a loved one was particularly saddening.

When friends asked me about my prognosis for the new year I felt even more despondent and gloomy.

There was very little to look forward to for the new year. The economic recession, declining markets, depreciating housing prices, global warming, rise in xenophobia and hate, increasing authoritarianism and erosion of human rights etc on a global scale depress me.

In Sri Lanka things get bad to worse as war escalates and envelopes.Corruption, misgovernance, nepotism, racism, egoistic clashes at high levels, erosion of democratic values, lack of respect for rule of law, lack of transparency, deteriorating economy, human rights violations, rise of neo – fascism etc ravage the land.

Fifteenth anniversary of the Muslim expulsion from Jaffna

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj Fifteen years ago on this day (Oct 30th ) around 28, 000 men , women and children were expelled from Jaffna by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam organization. They were all Tamil – speaking Muslims living in the Muslim “vattaaram” or zone of Jaffna town. About 500 plus Muslims living in …

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