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Lakshman Kadirgamar – Five Year Death Anniversary

Aug 11, 2010 2:31:28 PM - thesundayleader.lk
Lakshman Kadirgamar poster after his death, photo by Indi Samarajiva

Lakshman Kadirgamar poster after his death, photo by Indi Samarajiva

By DBS Jeyaraj

Lakshman Kadirgamar was assassinated five years ago today (12 August 2005). This is a reprint of two articles about his life written by DBS Jeyaraj and published in the Sunday Leader on 21 August 2005 and 28 August 2005. This tribute is especially fitting as the current War Commission is being conducted at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute Of International Studies.

Independence dawned for Sri Lanka then Ceylon on February 4, 1948. The union jack was lowered and the national flag raised at the stroke of midnight. Even as the flag fluttered proudly four young atheletes carrying flaming torches entered the square and ran up the steps of Independence Hall. Together they lit the lamp of freedom. The quartet comprised members of the four major communities of the island. The 16-year old youth representing the Tamils was Lakshman Kadirgamar.

That instance may not have been the proudest moment in Lakshman’s life as he was destined to achieve glory in many spheres of life. But on that day as a new nation made its tryst with destiny, Kadirgamar played a role that he never ever played again.

He was a Tamil

The Tamils perceived themselves jubilantly then as an integral part of the country. Lakshman Kadirgamar personified the Tamil people in that ceremony. He was a Tamil and he was Ceylonese (Sri Lankan). There was no conflict here. In later years this harmony was ruined as the serpent of racism entered the garden of Eden. Kadirgamar himself was to be caught up later in this dilemma of ethnicity and nationality and pay the supreme price.

The man who carried the torch of independence as a representative of the Tamils is a man whom the self-imposed sole representatives of the Tamil people and their minions love to hate. So intense is their hatred that the name Kadirgamar itself is featured in Tiger and pro-Tiger discourse as a word for traitor. Ettappan who betrayed Kattabhomman to the British, Kakkai Vanniyan who betrayed Sankiliyan to the Portuguese were words used to depict traitors earlier. In recent times the assassinated Jaffna Mayor Duraiappa’s name was used. Nowadays they use Kadirgamar. Now that they have killed him another thurogi has to be discovered and vilified.

The name Kadirgamar is unique to Sri Lankan Tamils. Lord Muruga or Skanda in Kathirgamam or Kataragama is the most sacred place of Hindu worship in Sri Lanka. Names such as Kadirgamar, Kathirga- manathan, Kathirgamathamby, Kathirgamasegaram etc., are derived from the deity of Kathirgamam. Names like these are seldom found in Tamil Nadu. It is indeed interesting that a name like Kadirgamar should be borne by some members of the Christian faith in Sri Lanka. This is because some Tamils continued to retain their Tamil ‘Hinduistic’ names even after conversion. Others took on English and American names as surnames.

Protestant Christian

Lakshman Kadirgamar belonged to a Protestant Christian family of Jaffna Tamil Vellala origin. The founder of this Christianised Kadirgamar family was a native of Puloly West called Karthigeyan Kadirgamar. His staunch Hindu family renovated and was involved in managing the Point Pedro Sivan temple at one time. Karthigeyan’s first cousin Eliyathamby during colonial times was an Adhigar in Batticaloa. It is said that Adhigar Road in Batticaloa was named after him.

Karthigeyan took on the name Christian after baptism but retained the Kadirgamar name. He served as the first Ceylonese Registrar – General of the Supreme Court. His wife was the daughter of Rev. Francis Ashbury of Vaddukkoddai. The Ashbury family was one of the earliest converts to Protestant Christianity in Jaffna. The Kadirgamar family through the Ashbury connection, as once asserted by Bishop Kulendran of the CSI Church can claim unbroken continuity from the first Protestant converts with the founding of the American Mission in the early decades of the 19th century.

Karthigeyan’s eldest son Samuel Jebaratnam Christian (SJC) Kadirgamar was the man who established the Kadirgamar family in Colombo. He studied at S. Thomas’ College travelling to Mutwal from Jaffna by boat. One of his dormitory mates was a lad called Wilson. Both found themselves quarrelling eternally. The STC warden at the time resolved it in typical English public school fashion. Both were asked to don boxing gloves and slog it out in the ring with the warden as referee. At the end of it both became firm friends for life. Both became proctors and set up the law firm Kadirgamar and Wilson in Colombo.

Christian heritage

S. J. C. Kadirgamar married Edith Rosemand Parimalam Mather, the daughter of Edward Mather of Manipay. The Mathers were engaged in commerce and traded in imported products. Two of Lakshman’s uncles were Christian ministers. The Rev. J. W. A. Kadirgamar on his paternal side and Rev. B. C. D. Mather on his maternal side were pastors. This Christian heritage is something which cannot be obliterated despite Lakshman’s latter day Theosophy of the Olcott variety.

Thalayasingham’s residence

Incidentally the assassin or assassins using the Thalayasingham residence to snipe at Kadirgamar had carried a cricket bag with the name of Sri Lankan cricketer Russel Arnold written on it. Russel Arnold himself is a nephew of Lakshman, being the grandson of B. C. D. Mather. While talking of cricketers it may be recalled that the Thalayasinghams too were excellent cricketers at Royal. Lakshman called Thalaya captained the team in 1966 when the unbeaten Thomian team was led by Anura Tennekoon nicknamed Ataya. Lakshman’s brothers Sahadevan opened batting for Royal in 1968 and Jayantha opened bowling in 1969-70.

Lakshman Kadirgamar born on April 12, 1932 the youngest of six children. The eldest S. J. C. (Jnr.) or Sam Kadirgamar was the well known Queen’s Counsel. Selvanathan or Bhai Kadirgamar, a major in the army later emigrated to the USA.

Rajan was the former Sri Lanka Navy commander. Thirumalan or Mana Kadirgamar was a planter who died early meeting with a motor accident in Dickoya. With Lakshman’s death none of the brothers are now among the living. The only sibling alive is his eldest sister Eeswari who married Dr. A. M. D. Richards.

While all his brothers were educated at Royal only Lakshman went to Trinity presumably due to the war where he studied from 1942 to 1950.

He won many awards while at Trinity including the Dr. Andreas Nell Memorial Prize for Ceylon History, Napier Clavering Prize for English and the Ryde Gold Medal for the best all round student in 1950.

In sports he got cricket colours, was cricket captain – 1950. Rugby colours – 1949. Athletics colours -1949 and Trinity Lion 1950. He came first at Public Schools, and broke the record in the 110 m hurdles (15.7 seconds) in 1949. He won the Duncan White Challenge Cup – 1949, De Soysa Challenge Cup -1949, and was senior prefect in 1949.

Excelled in sports

He entered the Peradeniya University and read for an LLB degree. While an undergrad he won the All Ceylon 110 m hurdles title in 1951 and 1952. All India Inter University 110 m hurdles title and set records at Ahamedabad in 1951 and Allahabad in 1952. He was also member of the cricket teams of the University of Ceylon and later Balliol College, University of Oxford becoming an Oxford Blue in cricket.

After getting his Bachelors Degree in law Kadirgamar passed the Advocates’ final, first in order of merit. He then served as secretary to Justice E. N. A. Gratiaen.

He later went to England becoming a Barrister of the Inner Temple and entering Balliol College Oxford.

He made history in Oxford getting elected as president of the Oxford Union. Four Sri Lankans have been presidents. They are Kadirgamar (Trinity) Athulathmudali (Royal) Noordeen (STC) and Jeyasundharie Wilson (Methodist). Jeya Wilson the only woman president from Sri Lanka is a niece of the late Prof. A. J. Wilson.

In 1958 during the communal violence Lakshman Kadirgamar when interviewed by the media said that S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike was only a ‘politician’ and not a ‘statesman’ because of the violence. The next year Lakshman was instrumental in getting a portrait of S. W. R. D. hung up. The tradition is that any Union president who becomes head of state gets a bust. Since S. W. R. D. was only treasurer of the union he got a portrait. SWRD however was assassinated a few weeks before he was to visit Oxford for the ceremony. In his absence it was left to Lakshman to do the honours.

Lakshman Kadirgamar at Oxford Union

Mr. Kadirgamar, who was President of the Oxford Union in 1959, is seen here with, from left, present Union president Richard Tydeman, Fellow of All Souls College and Queen's Counsel Jeremy Lever, and Oxford University Chancellor Chris Patten, who unveiled the portrait.


Many years later Lakshman Kadirgamar’s portrait was unveiled at the Oxford Union on March 18, 2005 by Rt. Hon. Lord Chris Patten of Barnes CH, Chancellor of the University of Oxford. In the 183-year history of the Oxford Union he is the 15th office-bearer whose bust or portrait is displayed in the Union building. Kadirgamar was also made Hon. Master of the Inner Temple-1995 – the second Asian to be made so after former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

While at Balliol Kadirgamar married an artist, Angela Malik of French-Pakistani descent. He has two children. The daughter is Ajitha Perera now resident in Boston. She was a well-known media personality in Sri Lanka during the ’80s and ’90s. Her son Keira Perera is Kadirgamar’s only grandson. His son, an architect is in Sri Lanka. He was named Sriraghavan Jebaratnam Christian but is generally known as Ragee.

In later years Kadirgamar divorced his first wife. He married again in 1996. He married Suganthi Wijeysuriya, a lawyer and senior partner at the law firm FJ and G de Saram. Their wedding was a private one with Chandrika Kumaratunga and Gamani Corea being the attesting witnesses.

After returning to Sri Lanka in the ’60s from Oxford, Lakshman Kadirgamar went about building a lucratic law practice. At the same time he began exploring prospects of a political career too. It is interesting to note that Kadirgamar at that time was contemplating a political future as an elected MP from the north. He was ardently wooed by both the Federal Party and Tamil Congress. Though he never joined those parties or participated in actively in politics Kadirgamar interacted closely with Tamil politicians like S. J. V. Chelvanayagam, G. G. Ponnambalam, M. Tiruchelvam, E. M. V. Naganathan, M. Balasundaram etc.

Visits to Jaffna

He also made several visits to Jaffna during this time. One objective was to rediscover his roots. Another was to scout around for a prospective electorate. Though his own family was now Colombo based there were several others of the extended Kadirgamar family in Jaffna. He was also a keen student of history and very much interested in the Jaffna kingdom. Though his pro-Tiger critics chide him as an ignoramus in the history and traditions of Jaffna, people who have heard him speak on the subject are amazed at his knowledge and insight. There are few with Kadirgamar’s knowledge of Jaffna history in the Tiger camp.

During one of his Jaffna trips in the ’60s Kadirgamar addressed the Jaffna YMCA on an interesting theme. His lecture was titled ‘From Plato to Sirimavo’. When excerpts of that lecture were carried in newspapers Mrs. Bandaranaike was reportedly annoyed. Years later she herself telephoned Lakshman inviting him to join her daughter, President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s cabinet of which the grand old lady was Prime Minister.

She added her voice then to numerous others urging Kadirgamar to enter active politics.

What led Kadirgamar to give up ideas of entering politics in the’60s and then do so 30 years later in the ’90s?

Lakshman Kadirgamar at the UN

Lakshman Kadirgamar at the UN

Lakshman Kadirgamar:  Beyond Labels Of Race And Religion – 2

Continued From Last Issue

Let me begin the concluding part of this article about Lakshman Kadirgamar on a personal note. My late father was about ten years older than Lakshman Kadirgamar but they were contemporaries at Law College in 1954 . This was because my father resumed law studies after a stint in teaching. I was born in 1954 and apparently Lakshman Kadirgamar was at the hospital to see the new babe. He also came for my baptism and there was a yellowing group photo with him included in the family album. My father lost touch with him in the sixties but always spoke highly of his brilliance. He also said that Lakshman though inarticulate in Tamil was deeply concerned about Sinhala being made the sole  official language, the 1956 and 58 violence and the suppression of the Satyagraha campaign in 1961. My father never accepted the tiger accusation that Kadirgamar was oblivious to the Tamil plight.

This was my experience too in later years. I made contact with him in 1994 due to the efforts of Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam. I was then editing my own Tamil weekly in Toronto. Kadirgamar had become a cabinet minister and was taking a keen interest in helping resolve the national problem. Neelan asked me to speak to Kadirgamar as the new minister was very keen on gaining an insight into the issue. I think we spoke for about four or five times on the telephone. One call in particular was extremely long extending for about 90 minutes.

I found him very much interested and concerned about the Tamil issue. He was a keen listener and extremely polite even when disagreeing with something. I was then an ardent Tamil nationalist believing fervently in the bona fides of the LTTE. I was one of those Tamils who thought naively then that the LTTE was fighting for the welfare of the Tamil people and not in the interests of its leadership. Like many Tamils of a similiar mindset I thought that the LTTE was prepared for a just, equitable and honourable settlement in a united but not necessarily unitary Sri Lanka.

Kadirgamar was extremely receptive and agreed that Federalism would be the ideal solution. But he had reservations on two counts. One was that he felt any realistic solution had to be acceptable to the majority of the Sinhala people as otherwise it would not be implementable. Therefore he opined that the concept federalism should be avoided and maximum devolution substituted instead. Secondly he said that any settlement had to be on lines acceptable to India. Therefore powers to  be devolved to the periphery should not go too much beyond the Center – State relationship parameters of India he felt.

Apart from this he too subscribed initially to the school of thought that a settlement was necesary with only the LTTE from the Tamil side. Though the LTTE would have us believe otherwise the Kadirgamar of 1994 firmly believed in political reconciliation with the LTTE. Kadirgamar spoke with a lot of Tamils to assess the situation. One person with whom he discussed the issue frankly and deeply  was the late CSI bishop of Jaffna Rt. Rev DJ Ambalavanar. I suppose that most Tamils like myself would have told him that the LTTE was keen on a settlement but had to tread the path of transition warily and slowly. He accepted that and within the folds of Government firmly pushed that line in 1994 and early 1995.

He was thoroughly shattered in 1995 when the LTTE broke faith and resumed hostilities on April 18th. My last conversation with him was a few days after this. Kadirgamar was agitated despite his customary aplomb. He was critical of me and all those who spoke positively of the LTTE. I remonstrated and when there were signs of a prolonged argument he wound up the conversation abruptly. I never spoke to him afterwards.

Meanwhile the war went on. The LTTE suffered reversals during Operation Riviresa.The local tigers in Toronto for reasons of their own launched a campaign against my newspaper “Muncharie” because it was reporting battlefield news accurately and impartially. They wanted me to publish glowing accounts ofimaginary LTTE successes. When they found violence, threats and intimidation against me were not working they began targeting my pre- dominantly Tamil advertisers and the Tamil shops retailing the paper. I opted to “die on my feet” by shutting the paper down rather than “live on my knees” toing the LTTE line.

I began writing for “The Island” In Sri Lanka where I cut my journalistic teeth in English. When some of those articles criticised the LTTE their minions in Toronto again began a campaign of intimidation. Death threats were issued systematically over the phone and in some tiger media. I mentioned this to some friends in Colombo who were upset by this. They wrote an appeal on my behalf. One friend holding a high position in an international organization added the weight of that persons position to that appeal.

When some journalists informed Kadirgamar about my plight he responded promptly. He immediately wrote to his Canadian counterpart Lloyd Axworthy and asked him to ensure my protection. This was acceded to and there was a crackdown on those behind the campaign. It died down. I shall remember Kadirgamars role in this with gratitude though I had to be critical of him as a journalist in spite of this.

In later years I wrote many articles about his political conduct. A few praised him but most were harshly critical. My main concern was his lack of  empathy with affected Tamil victims of the conflict. I felt he could have spoken out on many issues affecting Tamils instead of focussing only on the LTTE in International fora.The other bone of contention was that I felt at one point of time that he was somewhat obstructive of a peace settlement with the LTTE. Once again I foolishly believed that the LTTE was genuinely coming into the political process and that Kadirgamar was not being responsive. I particularly felt that seeking international bans on the LTTE when the tigers needed de – proscription at home was totally counter – productive. Most of those articles critical of Kadirgamar were reproduced in the LTTE journal “Tamil Guardian”.

I now realise that  Kadirgamar was  right about the true nature of the LTTE. Once his initial faith was shattered he became increasingly doubtful about the LTTE. He also felt that the LTTE had to be cut down to size if a truly lasting solution was to be achieved. For this he felt international pressure was necessary and hence his protracted campaign advocating tiger proscription. Kadirgamar also felt that stringent safeguards had to  be set up before the LTTE was encouraged further in the peace process and concessions made available.Though he was instrumental in getting Oslo in as facilitator he soon felt that Norway was not playing fair and said so publicly.

This does not mean that I endorse all what he said or did. I do feel that he was playing more to the Sinhala “gallery” in many things. Being a citizen of the world and real Sri Lankan etc are all very good. But no man claiming to be truly enlightened can remain silent in the face of evil. In Sri Lanka it is not only tiger “terrorism” that is evil but also Sinhala “chauvinism”. He never spoke out against the latter. People say that he was above caste, creed and community. This may be very well so. But this does not excuse his silence on crucial matters. Also some say he was truly “Sri Lankan” and not Tamil. Fine! But again being truly Sri Lankan does not mean accepting and justifying Sinhala hegemonism indirectly or directly. Kadirgamar did insist on Sri Lankas sovereignty and rightly so. But he did not dwell too much on the necessity for equality between the various communities was a prerequisite for maintaining unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Despite these shortcomings his heart was in the right place as far as the rights of Tamils and other minorities were concerned. Kadirgamar was of the mindset that these rights had to be applicable to all peoples inhabiting Sri Lanka. If justice and equal rights were ensured for all Sri Lankans then the Tamils too as an integral component of Sri Lanka were entitled to protection under those. Without fanfare and publicity Kadirgamar has played a quiet role in enshrining those rights. A recent article in “Frontline” by Lionel Fernando is illuminating in this respect. Some Excerpts are -

” In the present Constitution there are only eight clauses on “Fundamental Rights”, but in the October 2000 draft of the Constitution there were 23 clauses. Even the “Fundamental Rights” that are in subsidiary pieces of legislation were embodied in the 2000 draft Constitution. All this was made possible by the eminence of one man – Lakshman Kadirgamar. His advice to the various committees and to the President was that “Fundamental Rights” should be prioritised, and herein I must also mention the role played by Prof. G.L. Peiris, the then Minister of Constitutional Affairs.

For the first time, in the Foreign Ministry, Kadirgamar set up a ministerial committee meeting every month with all heads of departments such as the police and the armed forces, and the Defence Secretary on the violation of human rights. They were documented and taken up at the Human Rights Commission. There is a plethora of human rights institutions in the world, so we are answerable to them. He took upon himself the responsibility of monitoring human rights violations in Sri Lanka”.

The LTTE and its lobby continue to condemn the man as being anti – Tamil. He is condemned as a man who did not care about the Tamils. This tiger propaganda conducted continuously in typical “Goebbelsese” has taken root among many if not all. The truth however is that Kadirgamar though critical of the LTTE in many respects was not anti – Tamil. His hostility towards the LTTE was principle based. Yet the LTTE with its near total control over the Tamil media has propagated the Kadirgamar as Tamil traitor for a long time and continues to do so.His true sentiments and opinion however have been intentionally obscured or distorted.

The Lanka Academic website had a question and answer session with Kadirgamar some time ago.Some of his observations reveal his mind on some crucial issues. 

On power sharing with LTTE –

” I do not think a constitutional arrangement which is intended to be permanent can be based on a “power sharing” arrangement with the LTTE alone. At the moment the Government of the day has to negotiate with the LTTE because of the military realities on the ground. But a durable peace based on a constitutional arrangement acceptable to all the communities, reflected in a major amendment to the present constitution, passed by a two thirds majority in Parliament, and endorsed by a national referendum, can only be achieved if a number of important rights are enshrined in the amended constitution – human rights, parliamentary democracy including multi-party participation in democratic elections, the rule of law etc. None of these concepts is consistent with a “power sharing arrangement with the LTTE.” The type of federalism suitable for Sri Lanka is a matter for national discussion, not a matter for agreement only between the ruling party and the LTTE”. 

On Federalism –

“The PA is for a federal-type structure which could give minorities, and particularly the Tamils, ample autonomy in their regional affairs without allowing the disintegration or break up of the Sri Lankan State. Therefore, two principles are important – (1) to allow autonomy as much as it is necessary; (2) to ensure safeguards against any type of disintegration, break away or secession. We also believe that given current international developments and the challenges that our country is facing we need to have a rather strong system at the centre as well. Therefore, we propose considerable power sharing at the centre in addition to devolution of power to the regions or the periphery. There are several minorities in the country and their geographical spread is such that we need to ensure a full measure of human rights and safeguards and their participation at all levels of government from periphery to the centre. There is another factor that we have to take into account. There is a system of federalism in India which is not as broad as in many Western countries. What was primarily in the minds of the Indian Constitution makers when they devised a federal form of government for India was to preserve the unity and integrity of that country without allowing for its disintegration. This principle applies to South Asia in general considering the existence of several secessionist movements in our midst. We also have to take into account our own evolution towards a federal type of system since the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1987. We already have in place some extensive measures of devolution of power, of course, with major structural impediments. …….. But the whole matter needs further and fuller discussion on a national scale in the light of evolving events on the ground in the North and East which throw doubt on whether the LTTE truly wishes to have a federal form of government, notwithstanding public statements to that effect” 

On discrimination against Tamils –

” There was a time when, for instance, the use of Tamil for official purposes was not recognised and there was discrimination against the Tamil-speaking community in respect of education and employment. The Tamils had grievances. That cannot be denied. The situation is much better now. But since independence the ethnic policy of successive governments has been characterised by a lack of foresight, mismanagement and broken promises – the Bandaranike/Chelvanayakam pact and the Dudley Senanayake/Chelvanayakan pact are examples”. 

On LTTE and armed struggle

” As for your question whether the Sri Lankan Tamils would have been better off if the LTTE did not drag the country into a bloody civil war, my personal view is that socio-economic and political questions can never be resolved by war. But one must try to understand why a generation of young Tamils who had witnessed unsuccessful satyagraha campaigns and other peaceful attempts to secure redress for their grievances came to the conclusion that there was no alternative but to resort to arms. However, as the armed conflict has progressed it has become increasingly clear that war cannot resolve the problems that led to war in the first place. Many Tamils, even those of a moderate persuasion, hold the view that if the LTTE had not taken up arms the question of a negotiated settlement of the ethnic problem would never have been considered by any government in the South. The same group of moderate Tamils would, I am sure, now say “enough of war”; the armed conflict must end; a solution must be found through negotiations. As for the homeland question I do not think the vast majority of Tamils, whether they presently live in Sri Lanka or abroad, would prefer to live under Mr. Prabhakarn’s rule, rather than in a free, democratic, united Sri Lanka where the rights of minorities are adequately safeguarded”.

Much of the tiger inspired criticism against Kadirgamar being written, aired or beamed on worldwide tiger media is ridiculous and for the most part do not deserve the dignity of a response. But at least some need to be pinpointed briefly to highlight the heights of absurdity and  depths of depravity.

One is about his  being born and bred outside the North – East and living outside Sri Lanka for a long period. This is depicted as lacking in Tamilness.If this were so then most Tamil expatriates supporting the LTTE will also be excluded. Then there is his inability to speak Tamil. If that is a fault then most children of Tamil expatriates supporting the  LTTE too will fall under the same category. There is also criticism about his marrying outside the community particularly a Sinhalese.. If that was a crime then many Tamil supporters of the LTTE will also be culpable. Even the tiger IGP Nadesan with his Sinhala wife and Anton Balasingham with his Australian wife are not “Tamils” by that yardstick.In any case none of these are reasons to justify killing a man.

More serious is the despicable attempt to justify his killing on the grounds that he did not identify with the Tamil cause or do anything meaningful to bring about a political settlement. One does not know of the positive role Kadirgamar may have been playing in this sphere and so one should not rush to judge him hastily. But even if it were so this does not give the LTTE the right to kill him. Also these so called reasons too are false and frivolus. Neelan Tiruchelvan worked hard to bring about a Constitutional settlement. He was killed by the LTTE for that very reason. Then there is Appapillai Amirthalingam and very many others who devoted a lifetime for the Tamil cause but were all killed by the tigers. So let us understand that Kadirgamar was killed because the LTTE did not like him and not for his supposed lack of concern for Tamils.

Even being labelled traitor is now a relative matter. Anyone falling out with the tiger hierarchy  for any reason is a traitor. When Alfred Duraiyappah was killed he was a traitor and Amirthalingam a patriot. Then Amirthalingam was killed and Mahathaya called him a traitor. Then Mahathaya  himself was executed as a traitor. Karuna Amman was called a hero only two years aho. Now he is the greatest traitor of them all. On the other hand people like Suresh Premachandran of the EPRLF and Selvam Adaikkalanathan of the TELO and Rajavarothayam Sambandan of the TULF were portrayed as traitors in the tiger media a few years ago. After  prostrating themselves at Pirapakarans feet they have been pardoned and given a new life as patriots espousing the cause of Tamil nationalism. So who knows there may come a time when many of those condemning Kadirgamar will become traitors and others supporting him may be turn into patriots.

Damage to Kadirgamars name, reputation and image is not being done by tiger elements alone. The so called Sinhala patriots and nationalists are doing it too. They are portraying him only as a man working for the Sinhala state against the tigers. To them Sri Lanka is Sinhala. They do not want to acknowledge that Kadirgamar stood for devolution and wanted in his own way to restructure the state. The Sinhala ultras are also silent about Kadirgamar being denied Prime Minstership on account of his ethnicity. By trying to depict Kadirgamar as a “Sinhala Veeraya” (which he was not) these elements are only helping the tiger sections to portray Kadirgamar as a Tamil traitor.

If all those Sinhala nationalists (pseudo or otherwise) are truly grateful to Kadirgamar and wish to honour his memory then they should accept the concept of devolution to the provnces. The JVP shedding tears for Kadirgamar can demonstrate that they are not crocodilean by accepting the principle of devolution. The Ultra nationalist Sinhala circles can continue with their opposition to the LTTE but they must accept that the Tamils have particular problems and that one way of resolving them is through a scheme of devolution. This would be the best way to honour the memory of a man who tried in his limited way to transcend race and ethnicity in the service of his motherland.