Nadarajah Raviraj

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Nadarajah Raviraj
நடராஜா ரவிராஜ்
Nadarajah Raviraj MP.jpeg
Member of the Sri Lanka Parliament
for Jaffna District
In office
2001–2006
Succeeded by N. Srikantha, TNA
Mayor of Jaffna
In office
2001–2001
Preceded by Pon Sivapalan, TULF
Deputy Mayor of Jaffna
In office
1998–2001
Member of Jaffna Municipal Council
In office
1998–2001
Personal details
Born (1962-06-25)25 June 1962
Chavakachcheri, Jaffna Peninsula, Ceylon
Died 10 November 2006(2006-11-10) (aged 44)
Colombo National Hospital, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Nationality Sri Lankan
Political party Tamil United Liberation Front
Other political
affiliations
Tamil National Alliance
Alma mater Chavakachcheri Drieberg College
St. John's College
Profession Lawyer
Religion Hindu

Nadarajah Raviraj (Tamilநடராஜா ரவிராஜ், naṭarājā ravirāj ? [n̪əɖəˈɾ̪aːdʒaː ˈɾ̪əviɾ̪aːdʒ]; 25 June 1962 – 10 November 2006) was a prominent Sri Lankan Tamil politician and human rights lawyer. Born in the Jaffna district in the North of Sri Lanka, he served as a Member of Parliament for the Tamil National Alliance, which is backed by the LTTE, until he was shot dead by gunmen in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 10 November 2006. TNA and others alleged that the Sri Lankan government was involved in this assassination. The Sri Lankan government denied responsibility and strongly condemned his killing.[1]

On 9 November 2006, one day before his assassination, he led a protest demonstration in front of the UNICEF office in Colombo regarding the Vaharai bombing by the Sri Lankan Army of a school that led to the death of 45 civilians.

Biography[edit]

Born in Chavakachcheri, Raviraj attended Chavakachcheri Drieberg College and St. John's College, Jaffna. He was enrolled as an Attorney of Law in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in November 1988 and appeared in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and in the High Courts of Ampara, Batticaloa, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Jaffna and elsewhere in the south. His law firm, Raviraj & Associates, specialized in cases under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and Emergency Regulations. Raviraj also worked as a human rights lawyer for Home for Human Rights in Colombo, from 1984 to 1990 and again from 1993 until 1999.

Political career[edit]

He joined the Tamil United Liberation Front in 1987 and became a Central Committee Member of the TULF in 1990, the party's legal adviser in 1998 and a member of political bureau in 2000. He was also appointed as administrative secretary of the party.[2] Raviraj was elected mayor of Jaffna in 1998, a position in which he served until his election to Parliament from Jaffna District in December 2001 as a candidate of the newly formed TNA.[3] He was reelected to parliament in 2004.

During the last few months Raviraj participated in the Civil Monitoring Committee (CMC), working with Mano Ganesan ex MP (Colombo District), Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Dr.Vickramabahu Karunaratne, and Appapillai Vinayagamoorthy to monitor extra judicial killings, abductions and disappearances. Raviraj MP has participated in conflict resolution workshops hosted by the Institute of Federalism in Switzerland, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Germany and the Peace Institute in Austria among others.[2]

Throughout his career, Raviraj was admired by all communities in Sri Lanka at large, for his moderate views. He was severely critical of the Sri Lankan Government, particularly in the weeks leading up to his murder, highlighting, amongst many things, forced disappearances of many civilians and the food and medicinal blockade imposed by the Sri Lankan Government on Jaffna, starving the people. The day before he was killed, Raviraj and other TNA parliamentarians took part in a demonstration in front of the UN offices in Colombo to protest against the killing of Tamil civilians by the military and the mounting toll of abductions and extrajudicial killings. Although Raviraj spoke in favour of the LTTE, and his party, the TNA is believed to be supportive of the rebel group, he also was critical of them.

Just before his death, Raviraj publicly criticised the LTTE leadership for sending their children abroad to be educated in luxury while poor Tamil children were suffering in their homeland.[4] In an interview given to the Asia Tribune on 14 October 2006, he reportedly said of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran "LTTE leader Prabhakaran's children live a comfortable life abroad, poor Tamil children have to wait in long queues all day without even going to school to get a piece of bread."[5]

Raviraj was supportive of Tamil self-rule and a leading campaigner for Tamil self-rule. Another MP of the TNA claimed that "This is a clear message to Tamil parliamentarians ... Don't open your mouth." and supported the TNA's allegations on the government.[6]

Assassination[edit]

Raviraj was shot in Colombo, Sri Lanka by two assailants riding a motorbike on 10 November 2006 when he was leaving his home after returning from an interview between 7:00 am to 8:00 a.m (local time) on the Derana TV channel. He was rushed to the General Hospital in Colombo where he died at 9:20am. His bodyguard, Police Constable Lakshman Lokuwella attached to the Jaffna Police Station, was also killed in the shooting.

The shooting occurred around 8.45am as he was proceeding to the Elvitigala Road from Martha Road (6°54'7.11"N 79°52'38.26"E) in his vehicle.[7] The assailants escaped leaving behind a T-56 rifle and a few rounds of ammunition in a bag.[8] The site of the attack was within the Manning Town Complex and was opposite the Sri Lankan Military Police headquarters.[9]

Upon a request by the Sri Lankan government, the Metropolitan Police Service (from Scotland Yard) agreed to send a team of forensic experts to assist the investigation into the killing.[10] The investigations have not yet concluded. A local human rights organization has claimed that the killers are known to the Government and remain free. It further alleged that the killers belonged to paramilitary TMVP cadres.[11] Many accused the government of not showing any interest in finding the real killers behind this assassination.[4]

Reaction to his assassination[edit]

The Sri Lankan government strongly condemned his killing and extended its unreserved sympathies to his next of kin.[1] The President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapakse issued a statement in which he said he "unequivocally condemned the brutal killing of Mr. Nadaraja Raviraj, Member of Parliament of the Tamil National Alliance and his Police bodyguard Lakshman". It also stated that he viewed the killing "as one more reprehensible act by those opposed to dissent and political pluralism in a democratic society". President Rajapakse also extended his deepest condolences to the families of Nadarajah Raviraj and his security officer Lakshman.[12]

Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, leader of the TNA, a political party widely believed to be a proxy of the LTTE,[13] blamed the government for the murder and claimed "It is government forces or forces aligned to the government, there can be no question "and argued "This is an attempt to stifle... and silence those who can justifiably espouse the Tamil cause."[14] Selvam Adaikalanathan, a fellow TNA MP said "A democratic voice of Tamils has been silenced in Sri Lanka's capital today," and charged that resourceful Tamil politicians, journalists and activists (see State terrorism in Sri Lanka) are being systematically killed in Sri Lanka. "Raviraj tirelessly worked to improve the conditions of the people living under economic embargo to relieve the humanitarian catastrophe. He had a convincing way of dealing with even the crude bureaucracy of this failed state," Adaikalanathan said.[2]

The chief spokesman of the LTTE condemned the killing and blamed the government of Sri Lanka for the assassination.[15] The LTTE released a statement mentioning "As a parliamentarian he worked tirelessly for the Tamil nation. He spoke loudly to the world about the Sinhala Buddhist chauvinistic state terror. He shattered the false propaganda of the Sinhala state infusing his arguments with his legal expertise."[16][17] The LTTE's eulogy to Raviraj added "Death never destroys the great souls who lived their life for truth. They will live for ever in our nation’s soul as heroes of our history."[16]

Nimalka Fernando, a leading human rights activist in Sri Lanka remarked "We are fast becoming a country of widows". "These killers and the mighty terror of the state are making us a killing field." and the "gunmen got away after stopping traffic in front of a military installation, without fear of being arrested."[18]

United National Party organizer S.B. Dissanayake, member of the main opposition to President Rajapakse's Sri Lanka Freedom Party blamed the Sri Lankan government for the killing, claiming the blame cannot be passed onto the Karuna group or any other organization. Dissanayake remarked "It was impossible for such assassinations to take place in broad daylight in the city (Colombo) without the knowledge of the state."[19]

The Asian Human Rights Commission expressed shock at the killing of Raviraj and remarked that in Sri Lanka, "the rule of law machinery has been in a state of collapse now for a long time it is no surprise that things have gone out of control" and observed "these deaths are just part of a continuous situation of assassinations done by all parties to the conflict" and "the parties to the conflict claim justification for the deaths they cause and there is no regret in any quarter about what is taking place."[20]

The US State Department deplored the murder of the Tamil MP and urged the Sri Lankan government to investigate, arrest and prosecute those responsible, claiming "It is critical that crimes such as the murder of Nadarajah Raviraj do not go unpunished." and the "The people of Sri Lanka have been unjustly robbed of his energy and talent."[21]

The anti-rebel website, Asian Tribune, alleged that the Colombo-based International Center for Strategic Defense (ICSD) in its analysis has pointed the finger at the LTTE as the prime source for the assassination.[22]

The Criminal investigations Department has announced that three suspects have been held with regard to the assassination and investigations are proceeding.[23]

EPDP Leader and Minister Douglas Devanananda categorically dismissed all allegations leveled against the EPDP regarding the killing of TNA MP Nadarajah Raviraj.[24]

Government's alleged involvement[edit]

A local human rights organization, University Teachers for Human Rights, claimed that they were near certain that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, current Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence of the Government of Sri Lanka, was involved in the assassination. Further, it claimed that Gajanayake, whose forces work under the Ministry of Defence, was the main organiser behind the assassination.[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Government strongly condemns killing of TNA MP". Ministry of Defence. 10 November 2006. 
  2. ^ a b c "Tamil Parliamentarian Raviraj assassinated in Colombo". Tamilnet. 10 November 2006. 
  3. ^ "2002 interview with Raviraj". SAMS. 4 February 2002. 
  4. ^ a b Liyanage, Priyath (16 November 2006). "Peace suffers as Tamil politicians killed". BBC. 
  5. ^ http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/3255
  6. ^ Francis, Krishan (11 August 2007). "Prominent Tamil Politician Assassinated". Washington post. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  7. ^ "MP Raviraj Assassinated". Department of Government Information. 10 November 2006. 
  8. ^ "TNA Parliamentarian Raviraj Gunned Down". Media Center for National Security. 10 November 2006. 
  9. ^ "TNA Parliamentarian Nadarajah Raviraj shot dead near Military Police HQ". LankaeNews. 10 November 2006. 
  10. ^ "Scotland Yard to arrive in Sri Lanka next week to assist investigations on Tamil MP's killing". Lankapage. 26 December 2006. 
  11. ^ "UTHR". University Teachers for Human Rights (UTHR). 9 August 2007. 
  12. ^ "Unequivocal condemnation of killings – President". Department of Government Information. 10 November 2006. 
  13. ^ "Tamil member of Parliament killed in Sri Lankan capital". AP. 10 November 2006. 
  14. ^ "Sri Lankan MP killed in Colombo". BBC World Service. 10 November 2006. 
  15. ^ "LTTE Political Head condemns Raviraj assassination in Colombo". Tamilnet. 10 November 2006. 
  16. ^ a b "Pirapaharan confers Maamanithar award to Raviraj". Tamilnet. 11 November 2006. 
  17. ^ "LTTE bestow highest honour on slain Sri Lanka MP". Chennai, India: Hindu. 11 November 2006. [dead link]
  18. ^ "Funeral row, strike planned over slain Sri Lankan legislator". AFP. 11 November 2006. 
  19. ^ "Ranil Demands Independent Probe". Daily Mirror. 11 November 2006. 
  20. ^ "Will it be too late for the arrival of international assistance to monitor gross violations of human rights?". Asian Human Rights Commission. 11 November 2006. 
  21. ^ "US seeks urgent probe into Lankan MP's killing". HindustanTimes. 10 November 2006. 
  22. ^ http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/3255.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ http://www.nation.lk/2006/11/19/news9.htm.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ http://www.nation.lk/2006/11/19/newsfe5.htm.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ "Can the East be won through Human Culling?". UTHR. 3 August 2007. Retrieved 26 August 2007. 

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