Veteran development activist Fr Sathiyapillai Guy de Fontgalland passes away

[TamilNet, Thursday, 03 March 2016, 23:18 GMT]
Veteran Eezham Tamil development activist Rev Fr Sathiyapillai Guy de Fontgalland, who has dedicated his life to the upliftment of the Upcountry Tamils in the island, passed away at the age of 69 on Monday after being hit by a sea wave in Trincomalee. Fr S Guy de Fontgalland, who hails from Ooraaththu'rai (Kayts) island in Jaffna, was the founder of Leo Marga Ashram (LMA) in Bandarawela, which is an alternative development-oriented action group, based in Badulla district. With a vision of liberating the plantation community and a mission of creating an alternative leadership in the plantation sector through conscientization programs aimed at a people’s movement.

Rev Fr Sathiyapillai Guy de Fontgalland (26.10.1946 - 29.02.2016)
Rev Fr Sathiyapillai Guy de Fontgalland (26.10.1946 - 29.02.2016)
Fr Fontgalland was working through his LMA organisation, which has been opened to all, irrespective of ethnicity and religion.

Fr. Fontgalland had authored more than a dozen books, most of them on the plight of deprived communities in the Up-Country.

The Up country Tamils- A National Race, The Up country Tamils and Politics, Plantation women’s Rights, The Impact of Globalization on the Plantation Sector in Sri Lanka, Social Development and Poverty in the Plantation in Sri Lanka, The challenges faced by the Plantation Tamils in the 21st Century, Searching for Alternatives and Plantation community Moves for a Change, are some of his works.

While his tragic death occurred, Fr Sathiyapillai was accompanying some diaspora visitors from UK, who wanted to visit Trincomalee and Jaffna. On Monday evening, he was hit by a big wave a few minutes after he went for a bath in the sea near the Urban Council of Trincomalee. His body was washed ashore a few hours later.

Hundreds of people from all walks of life have been paying their last respects to Fr Fontgalland at Badulla church on Wednesday and Thursday.

His remains will be kept at his Ashram at Bandarawela for two days as activists from all corners of Upcountry were coming to pay their last respects to him. The funeral is scheduled to take place Saturday at Badulla Cemetery at 3:00 p.m.

Fr Fontgalland was a good friend of the late Sivaram Dharmeratnam (Taraki) and remained one of the key resources on matters related to Upcountry Tamils till his sudden demise this week.

The Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist approach, was being systematically deployed against the Upcountry Tamils and the military and language are being used as means of oppression to suppress the Tamils in the Upcountry, Fr Fontgallad told TamilNet in a video interview in November 2014, recorded after the landslide catastrophe at Meeriya-bedda.

Observing that two military bases had been established after 2009 at Talawakelle and Badulla, where Up-Country Tamils live in significant numbers, Fr Fontgalland said the SL military was interfering in the assistance and resettlement of the Up-Country Tamil landslide victims in the same manner it was interfering in the resettlement of Tamils in the North and East.

The 2014 interview with Fr Fontgalland is reproduced below:



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