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   :: Remembering Prof. C. J. Eliezer: An Icon of Tamil Voice
By: Dr. K. K. Navaratnam, Australia 

Professor Eliezer, a Mamanithar, should be remembered and respected ever as a martyr of Tamil rights and an icon of Tamil voice. He should be remembered for his indelible imprint on voice for the plights of Tamil people. He believed in “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

On I January 1998, Professor Eliezer picked my family and me from the Tallamarine Airport, Melbourne. On the way to Melbourne, our conversation was about the Tamils, Tamil’s freedom fight and Tamil unity. As I noted in my diary, Prof. Eliezer was talking about the problems facing the Tamil freedom fight, ways of solving it, and what will happen in the future.

Professor said ‘ I am mindful that our freedom fight is answered with violence by the Sri Lankan government and even death. I am mindful that the Tamil people are brutalised and murdered. We must have our freedom now. We must have our rights back. We must have protection. I could never adjust to discrimination and violence because discrimination is always unequal and it did something to my sense of dignity and self-respect. Discrimination not only harms one mentally but also injures one spiritually. It scars the soul. It is a system that forever stares the Tamils in the face, saying ‘You are less than …’ ‘You are not equal.’

Professor continued, “We must believe in law and order. We should not advocate violence. We want to win the hearts and minds of the Sinhalese people. If I am stopped, our work should not stop, for what we are doing is right. People power - That is the kind of power we need. Equality means dignity. And dignity demands freedom and right.”

"We have broken loose from the discriminations and we have moved through the wilderness of legal discriminations after discriminations. Now we stand on the border of the “ethnic cleansing. Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a great toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love …Our aims must never be to defeat or humiliate the Sinhalese people, but to win their friendships, understanding and support to our freedom fight. We must continue to resist the system of discrimination …We must work constructively to fight for the rights of our people. This is a critical time for the Tamils. The challenge is here. We must work together,” Professor maintained.

Professor Eliezer has a dream for a united fight for the rights of the Tamil people. His were the word that gave the lobbying logical voice. His was the diplomacy that gave legitimate voice to the lobbying for the rights of the Tamil people. Implicit in Professor’s dream weaving beyond the dream itself- was the sublime notion that it is all possible. That Tamil can do it. That a dream, it may have been, but not fantasy.

No one replicate Professor’s charisma or inherit his disciples. He emphasised responsibility and empowerment among expatriate Tamils. It never hurts to re-emphasise as we mourn his loss.

Professor Eliezer is a life-long advocate of non-violent means to speak-out for the rights of the Tamil people anytime and everywhere. He asserted that our dream is disturbed, time and time again, and never finished. We must carry his dream and work together to achieve his dreams.

Dr. K. K. Navaratnam,

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