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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Para "Master"


SRI LANKA DEMOCRACY FORUM
Australia, Canada, France, Germany,India, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom, United States
e-mail: contact@lankademocracy.org
fax#: 00-1-646-349-1182
website: www.lankademocracy.org

For Immediate Release
27 December 2007

Para “Master” a Powerful Voice of Tamil Dissent

It is with enormous grief that we received the sad news of the sudden death of Kumaraswamy Pararajasingham on his 72nd birthday on 16 December 2007. “Para Master”, as he was respectfully and affectionately called by his friends and colleagues, was a founder Steering Committee member of the Sri Lanka Democracy Forum (SLDF). He was one of the leading activists in the German Chapter of SLDF.

Para Master’s active and continuing participation in the work and activities of the SLDF was only a part of his life-long commitment to his broader struggle against social exploitation and oppression.

The born rebel he was, Para Master’s engagement with the struggle for the emancipation of the people from class and social oppression, particularly the tyranny of the caste system within the Tamil community, commenced with his joining the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) very early in his life and rejecting the politics of narrow nationalism. However he along with his comrades, did not hesitate to rebel against the leadership of the LSSP when it began to enter its era of coalition politics by associating with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

Para Master was a committed trade union activist primarily associating and working with the then powerful Ceylon Mercantile Union (CMU).

Para Master also played a very leading and active role in the Jaffna Branch of the of the Movement for Inter-Racial Justice and Equality (MIRJE) which was founded following the enactment of the PTA in 1979 with the escalation of the ethnic conflict and the proliferation of gross human rights abuses by the police and security forces particularly in the northern province of Sri Lanka.

As the culture of violence and repression became internalised and began to dominate Tamil politics and the space and opportunity for free expression began to disappear, Para Master with his family, like many other Tamils, went into exile.

In exile Para Master did not seek satisfaction in the comfortable life styles that most other Tamils did. His deep and abiding commitment to the struggle against tyranny and oppression found reflection in his continuing work in the field of defending human rights and literature. He edited and published a socio-political and literary magazine known as “Sinthanai” (Thoughts) that carried stories, poems and articles that reflected an alternative viewpoint.

Even as the LTTE sought to extend its tyrannical grip of expatriate Tamils by denying freedom of expression by intimidation and violent means, Para Master along with like-minded progressive colleagues, devised literature as the platform on which LTTE’s tyranny and its claim for “sole representation” of Tamils was to be challenged. The “Ilakiya Santhippu” (Gathering of Literature), an event held every few months in different capitals in Europe for the last two decades, where hundreds of progressive writers and campaigners gather to discuss and deliberate, has become the rallying platform for the dissenting community among expatriate Tamils.

We take this opportunity to convey our deepest sympathies to Para Master’s wife and life-long companion Mallika, his son Santhush, daughter Uma, son-in-law Murali and daughter-in-law Dinesha, all of whom have in their own right developed into notable writers and campaigners of human and democratic rights for which Para Master stood for.

A powerful voice of the dissenting Tamil community has been stilled by Para Master’s death. His departure is a great loss not only to the SLDF as an organisation of which he was an integral and important part, but also to many of the other organisations and individuals with whom he worked with. But we have no doubt that the legacy he has left behind by his selfless, varied, long and outstanding contribution will remain honoured and remembered.


Sri Lanka Democracy Forum

SLDF Statements are drafted by its twenty member Steering Committee.

For Media Queries Only Contact: spokespersons@lankademocracy.org
SLDF Spokespersons: Rengan Devarajan and Ahilan Kadirgamar


Sri Lanka Democracy Forum Mission Statement


Sri Lanka Democracy Forum is a community that shares a commitment to a democratic and pluralistic vision of Sri Lanka. We recognize that in addition to the loss of lives, the costs of war also entailed the erosion of democracy, the demobilization of pluralistic and independent social movements, and the further victimization of marginalized communities. In that context, we believe that movement towards a just and sustainable peace must be accompanied by the reconstruction of a democratic community that protects and promotes social justice, and the individual and collective rights and freedoms of all communities in Sri Lanka. We are in solidarity with, and have a commitment to support the efforts of marginalized communities to address past injustices, whether such injustice was based on the suppression of dissent, economic disempowerment, and/or on ethnic, gender or caste discrimination at the national or regional level. Among other efforts, we seek to proactively support grass roots movements that seek to expand and revitalize conditions for a vibrant, pluralistic and independent civil society that nurtures freedom of conscience, diverse political affiliations and an independent media. Thus, we believe that the terrain for engagement is not merely macro-political policy, but also economic decision-making, cultural production, and diverse local struggles furthering democratization in all spheres of life.


The Sri Lanka Democracy Forum had its inaugural meeting in Toronto, Canada in 2002.

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