Pararajasingham was at peace with his life's work- Balakumaran

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 January 2006, 00:01 GMT]
“The murder of rights advocates in churches and holy sanctuaries is a historical phenomenon. From El Salvador’s Archbishop Oscar Romero to our own Joseph Pararajasingam, their lives did not end with death. On the contrary, they become alive into the collective consciousness of their people for whom they have struggled," said V. Balakumaran, a senior leader of the Liberation Tigers (LTTE) talking during his weekly address to LTTE radio "Pulikalin Kural (Tigers Voice)" Saturday.

Mr. Joseph PararajasinghamMr. Joseph Pararajasingam, Sri Lankan Tamil legislator and ardent human rights activist, was gunned down in Sri Lanka during Christmas mass after he received Holy Communion from the Bishop of Batticaloa. Eight other worshipers including the slain leader’s wife were also injured. While the world remained silent, the LTTE posthumously conferred the title of “Maa Manithar” (Great Soul) recognizing the lifelong service of the 71-year-old parliamentarian.

Translation of excerpts from Balakumaran's radio address given in Tamil follow:

“Mr Pararajasingam has become the latest human being to have sacrificed his life for the cause of liberation and emancipation of one’s people. Whenever I met with him, especially recently, I found him content with his duties and totally at peace with the race he has run. In addition he was aware of the serious threat to his life.

The history will record him as one who devoted himself to the service of his people. I only intend to touch some aspects of his life and death through those who were similarly martyred at the alter of holy sanctuaries.

The late Joseph closed his eyes so that the eyes of those which still remain shut shall be open to the truth. First let us look at the event in 1985 when our revered priest Father Bastian was slain. He was the parish priest of St. Anne’s Catholic church in Vankalai, Mannar. It was the 6th of January, 1985. The Sri Lankan army (SLA) soldiers broke into the church in the middle of the night. As Father Bastian came out holding his hands up clutching the rosary beads, the soldiers gunned him down point blank. We are once again reminded of his death while we mourn the death of Mr Pararajasingham.

People used to ask Father Bastian whether he was not concerned about his safety when he was openly involved in protecting the basic rights of the people around him. He would respond that it was not just his life, but the lives and livelihoods of all the Tamil people were uncertain and at risk. His words still resonate among our people and ring true to this date. What sin have our people committed to be under the rule of the military and lose their lives on a daily basis?

Archbishop Oscar Romero
El Salvador's Archbishop Oscar Romero
Another similar event is the murder in El Salvador which occured on March 24, 1980. El Salvodor’ archbishop and human rights activist Reverend Oscar Romero was celebrating holy mass in his church when he was shot. He fell down embracing his death in front of a large congregation. When we mourn Honorable Joseph we remember Archbishop Romero.

Shortly before his killing Archbishop Romero said, “You can kill me. A bishop will die, but the church of god, which is the people, will never perish”. He further proclaimed, “You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time. The church would betray its own love for God if it stopped being a defender of the rights of the poor, a humanizer of every legitimate struggle to achieve a more just society that prepares the way for the true reign of God in history."

These are the same sentiments expressed by Mr Pararajasingam. His words still echo in our hearts. The time spent on plotting and killing him is a wasted time. The killers should realize that they would not achieve anything by killing him. Reverend Romero repeatedly pleaded, “In the name of God, and in behalf of the people I implore you. Please halt your oppression. Desist from killing your own people”.

We ask of Joseph’s killers the same in the name of Archbishop Romero. In behalf of our People, and in lieu of our liberation struggle, we call upon you again and again. Please put an end to these killings. We witnessed the brutal murders of media men Mr Nadesan and Mr Sivaram, and humanitarian Mr Chandra Neru in southern Tamileelam. What do we achieve by killing the elites and humanists of our land? This is our plea to you and to the indifferent world at large.

We shall gain comfort and strength from the words of Archbishop Romero. Like the grain that needs to die to bring new life, the blood spilled by the Tamil people and MaaManithar Pararajasingam will bring freedom and dignity to the lives of our people."


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