D. B. S. Jeyaraj
|D. B. S. Jeyaraj|
|Native name||டி. பி. எஸ். ஜெயராஜ்|
|Born||May 21, 1954|
|Other names||David Jeyaraj|
|Ethnicity||Sri Lankan Tamil|
|Alma mater||Jaffna College|
David Buell Sabapathy Jeyaraj (Tamil: டேவிட் பியுவல் சபாபதி ஜெயராஜ்; born May 21, 1954; commonly known as D. B. S. Jeyaraj) is a Tamil Canadian freelance journalist of Sri Lankan origin. He currently writes articles for two Sri Lankan newspapers, The Daily Mirror with his own column in it and the Daily FT, and also runs his news blog, dbsjeyaraj.com.
Early life and family
Jeyaraj was born on May 21, 1954. His mother was from the village of Kaddaively near Karaveddy in northern Ceylon. He was educated at S. Thomas' Preparatory School and Jaffna College. After school Jeyaraj won admission to university but chose not to enrol. He then joined Madras Christian College but quit, returned to Sri Lanka and took up law studies. He abandoned this in 1977 to take up journalism.
Jeyaraj's journalism career began in April 1977 as a staff reporter for the Tamil language Virakesari. He worked as the paper's correspondent in Batticaloa. He moved to the English language The Island in November 1981. Initially he reported on trade union and customs issues but was later assigned to cover Tamil politics and militancy. He also wrote the popular "Behind the Cadjan Curtain" column for its sister newspaper, the Sunday Island. He was deputy editor of the Saturday Review for a period and Colombo correspondent for The Hindu. He was fired from The Hindu for exposing atrocities committed by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF).
Jeyaraj was in Jaffna in October 1987 when war erupted between the IPKF and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). After collecting documents, photos and other information on the war's impact on civilians, Jeyaraj returned to Colombo via the jungles. The Island carried his report, including an interview with LTTE deputy leader Mahattaya, on October 25, 1987. Jeyaraj was arrested on October 26, 1987 and interrogated by the Criminal Investigation Department on the notorious fourth floor. A police officer told Jeyaraj that they would "keep [Jeyaraj] quiet until the Indian Army finishes the job". After five days he was produced before the courts and released on bail but was ordered not to leave the country. His friends advised him to travel abroad and Jeyaraj came up with the idea of applying for an overseas scholarship to overcome his travel ban. With the help of Neelan Tiruchelvam he applied for the Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. After several appearances in court the Attorney-General's Department finally acknowledged that Jeyaraj had no case to answer and he was discharged. He was accepted for the Nieman Fellowship and, although he no longer faced imprisonment in Sri Lanka, he decided to accept the offer. Jeyaraj left Sri Lanka on September 14, 1988.
The violence in Sri Lanka increased and Jeyaraj's friends, including Richard de Zoysa, advised him not to return to Sri Lanka. He graduated from the Nieman Fellowship in June 1989. He then went to Toronto, Canada to stay with a cousin. After a few months he was preparing to return to Sri Lanka when, in February 1990, de Zoysa was abducted and killed. A fearful Jeyaraj chose to remain in Canada.
Jeyaraj, together with some partners, started a weekly Tamil newspaper, the Senthamarai, in Toronto in October 1990. The newspaper's, and Jeyaraj's, neutral editorial stance vis-à-vis the Sri Lankan Civil War was viewed with suspicion by both government supporters and LTTE supporters. On February 14, 1993 Jeyaraj, his wife and friends were returning to their car after watching a Sinhala film at a cinema at the Ontario Science Centre when two young Tamil men approached Jeyaraj. They asked him if he was the editor of the Senthamarai and if he had written anti-LTTE stories. Jeyaraj told the men that it was not the right place to talk and to call him tomorrow. Two more men appeared from the shadows and assaulted Jeyaraj with baseball bats and metal rods, breaking his leg and injuring his head.
In June 1993 Jeyaraj and his wife started a fortnightly, later weekly, Tamil newspaper on his own, the Muncharie. The newspaper reported on LTTE's loses, including those on Operation Thunderstrike and Operation Riviresa, whilst other Tamil newspapers glossed over the loses. In 1995 advertisers, distributors and retailers of the Muncharie began receiving threats from LTTE supporters. One shopkeeper is assaulted and a van burnt. Copies of the newspapers were seized and dumped. As the threats and intimidation continued the Muncharie circulation and revenue fell and in April 1996 it ceased publication. Jeyaraj continued to receive threats from LTTE supporters. Jeyaraj blames the World Tamil Movement, a Toronto-based LTTE front, for the threats.
When the The Sunday Leader started in 1994 Jeyaraj contributed weekly articles from Canada but after a few months stopped due to his workload on the Muncharie. Following the closure of the Muncharie in 1996 Jeyaraj took up freelance writing, writing a weekly column for the Sunday Island. In 1997 he resumed working for The Sunday Leader, writing a column called "Searchlight". By 1999 he had stopped writing for the Sunday Island and started writing a new column, "Cross Currents", for The Sunday Leader. He also wrote The F-Word column for the paper and the Minor Matters column for its sister newspaper, The Morning Leader. In 2007 he stopped writing for The Sunday Leader and moved to The Nation and its sister newspaper The Bottom Line but a change in ownership forced Jeyaraj to quit in 2008. He then started writing for the The Daily Mirror. He has also resumed writing occasional articles for The Sunday Leader. In 2014 he started writing a column about films, "Spotlight", for The Daily Mirror's sister newspaper, the Daily FT.
Jeyaraj has also written articles for Frontline and Tamil Times. Jeyaraj has been associated with several news blogs including federalidea.com, transcurrents.com, tamilweek.com and dbsjeyaraj.com. He obtained Canadian citizenship in 2004. He visited Sri Lanka in October 2013 after an absence of 25 years.
- Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (August 30, 2009). "My friend Shanthi: A Personal tribute". dbsjeyaraj.com.
- Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (November 5, 2010). "Will there be a violent resurgence of the LTTE soon?". dbsjeyaraj.com.
- David, Marianne (February 26, 2014). "D.B.S. Jeyaraj's journey home". Daily FT.
- Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (July 28, 2012). "Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Indo-Lanka Accord". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka).
- Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (June 26, 2012). "Mervyn de Silva: reminiscences about a journalist colossus". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka).
- Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (December 23, 2014). "Minister Maithripala Sirisena's Attempt in 2013 to Obstruct Justice to Safeguard Son Daham who Attacked Asela Waidyalankara". dbsjeyaraj.com.
- Gunewardene, Prasad (July 16, 2006). "The man I saw in Amirthalingam". Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka).
- "For action to protect D.B.S. Jeyaraj". Frontline (magazine). 14 (21). October 18, 1997.
- Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (May 27, 2013). "Thirteenth Constitutional Amendment is Rajiv Gandhi's Political Legacy in Sri Lanka". dbsjeyaraj.com.
- "Alumni: Class of 1989". Nieman Foundation for Journalism.
- Nallainathan, Meena (Spring 2007). "Staring Down the Tigers". Ryerson Review of Journalism.
- "LTTE terror exported to far-off Canada". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). April 7, 1996.
- Funding the "final War": LTTE Intimidation and Extortion in the Tamil Diaspora, Volume 18. 2006. p. 16.
- Rajasingham, K. T. "Chapter 45: War continues with brutality". Sri Lanka: The Untold Story.
- Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (June 17, 2012). "My Special Relationship With The Sunday Leader". The Sunday Leader.
- Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (May 5, 2012). "Thirty Sixth Birth Anniversary of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam". dbsjeyaraj.com.
- Jeyaraj, D. B. S. "About". dbsjeyaraj.com.