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[act] In Memory of Neelan Tiruchelvan

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Web Disptach 1st of August 1999 ... Contents: # 1. [Sri Lankan] Social Scientists Association s Tribute to Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam # 2.
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 1999
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      South Asia Citizens Web Disptach
      1st of August 1999

      # 1. [Sri Lankan] Social Scientists' Association's Tribute to Dr. Neelan
      # 2. Statement from Friends of Neelan Tiruchelvan in India
      # 1.

      30 Jul 1999

      Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam: A Tribute

      It is with deep shock and outrage that the Social Scientists'
      Association (SSA) condemns the brutal assassination of Dr. Neelan
      Tiruchelvam, parliamentarian, scholar and civil society leader.

      With this killing, political forces of ethnic extremism have silenced
      a voice of reason and sanity.

      Dr. Tiruchelvam, in his intellectual, political and activist life gave
      expression to a range of key values and ideals that are essential for
      the re-building of Sri Lankan society torn asunder by a multiplicity
      of crises of which the ethnic conflict is most intractable
      manifestation. He was uncompromising in his commitment to ethnic
      reconciliation, inter-ethnic peace, pluralist democracy, human rights,
      social justice and decency in public affairs. His was a mind of
      considerable intellectual energy and perseverance which shined under
      conditions of darkness and barbarism. It is no exaggeration to say
      that the terms of Sri Lanka's contemporary discourse of democratic
      political reform were largely germinated in his creative mind and
      through his tireless interaction with all those who shared with him
      the ideals of a decent, peaceful world. Dr. Tiruchelvam earned much
      praise and some wrath for this singular contribution he made to enrich
      the political and constitutional thinking of Sri Lanka.

      He was a great believer in and practitioner of institution building in
      both public and civil society spheres. He created and nurtured the
      International Center for Ethnic Studies and the Law and Society Trust.
      He worked closely with policy-makers and officials in creating and
      strengthening such key public accountability institutions as the
      Human Rights Task Force, the Human Rights Commission, the Office of
      the Ombudsman, the Official Languages Commission. In the last few
      weeks of his life, he was working in close collaboration with the
      Ministry of Justice, the human rights community and legal scholars in
      setting up an Equal Opportunity Commission. Many progressive pieces of
      legislation that have been enacted by Sri Lankan parliament in recent
      years owe a great deal to Dr. Tiruchelvam's initiatives and inputs.

      With the untimely demise of Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam all communities of
      Sri Lanka have lost a truly visionary bridge-builder. South Asia has
      lost one of its most creative democratic-reformist thinkers. We pay
      tribute to a colleague who has always been an inspiring presence among

      Let this tragic death of a man of peace and moderation become a moment
      for the resuscitation of political forces committed to national

      Dr. Jayadeva Uyangoda
      Dr. Kumari Jayawardena

      Social Scientists' Association
      425/15, Thimbirigasyaya Road
      Sri Lanka.

      # 2. Statement from Friends of Neelan Tiruchelvan in India

      31 July 1999, New Delhi

      We are deeply shocked at the assasination of Neelan Tiruchelvan
      by a suicide-bomber reportedly of the LTTE, conducted in a manner
      characteristic of that group. Neelam was a person of
      extraordinary talent, great intellectual refinement, and
      unwavering political commitment to democracy, pluralism,
      secularism, justice and humanism. His was a voice of reason which
      compelled attention and inspired thousands of thinkers, scholars,
      activists and political leaders not just in Sri Lanka, but all
      over South Asia.

      We in India who had the privilege to have known Neelan always
      admired him for his outstanding work on peace and conciliation,
      and on political devolution in Sri Lanka, his fierce opposition
      to ethno-centric nationalism, chauvinism and militarism, his
      remarkable courage, as well his as immense personal charm.

      Neelam was killed by forces of barbarism and extreme intolerence
      because they cannot possibly coexist with reason, democracy, and
      liberal and human values. His death underscores the critical
      importance of fighting such forces in our entire region, and of
      reaffirming our commitment to what Neelan stood for.

      We send our deepest condolences to Seethi, to their children, and
      to Neelan's countless friends and admirers.

      Romila Thapar,
      Ritu Menon,
      Achin Vanaik,
      Zoya Hasan,
      Praful Bidwai
      [and others]
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