Back to Main Page History Briefing Statements Bulletins Reports Special Reports Publications Links

Dr.Rajani Thirangama
Head Dept of Anotomy, University of Jaffna
23rd February 1954 -21 September 1989

"We have now been living under the long shadow of the gun for more than a decade and a half, holding hope against hope for the survival of our children who are dominated by violence from all directions with out a purpose or meaning,. But, on the other hand, we also note the glazed faces of people accepting it all with a sense of resignation. Under these circumstances, to be objective or analytical seems to be a major effort, like trying to do something physical in the midst of a debilitating illness. Whenever we write we are dogged by this reality, fearing our losing the thread of sanity and the community submerging with out resistance into this slime of terror and violence. The community is bereft of all its human potential. Every "sane" person in fleeing this burning country- its hospital have no doctors, its universities not teachers,, its crumbled war-torn buildings cannot be rebuilt because there are go engineers or masons or even a labour force, its families are headed by women, and the old, the sick and the weary die with out even the family to mourn or sons to bury the dead. If our earlier account had appeared to be "plugging a line", as some would want to put it, it was because it was important for us to arrive at a syntheses in analysis seek an understanding, find spaces to organize, and revitalize a community that was sinking into a state of resignation. Objectivity was not solely and academic exercise for us. Objectivity, the pursuit of truth and the propagation of critical and honest positions, was crucial for the community. But they could also cost many of us our lives. Any involvement with them was undertaken only as a survival task. One day we sat down to discuss a postscript to our account. As an exercise we started laying out the complex forces in interaction. After the exercise one of us wrote in bold letters- A TRAGIC MESS"

- Dr.Rajani Thiranagama, The Broken Palmyra


Dr. Rajani Thiranagama


Immediately following this introduction is a link to a report prepared by Dr. Rajani Thiranagama on disappearances during the first quarter of 1988. It was circulated privately among interested groups.

Dr. Thiranagama was the Head of the Anatomy Department until her death on September 21st. Apart from singlehandedly managing the department, Dr.Thiranagama was also an active researcher in her field, striking out into new areas of thought. She also linked her scientific research to considerations of conceptual developments of the social sciences. It is this same comprehensiveness of approach that formed part of her concern for human rights.

The story behind the report says much about her concern for those defenceless persons from the lower strata of society. A young girl who had been giving first aid to war victims in refugee camps and whose own family was in a state of despair was referred to Rajani by an acquaintance. Rajani befriended her and counselled this girl who was contemplating suicide. This girl who was anxious to help the suffering and the needy found in Rajani an ally and a new source of strength. She brought many persons who had under­gone much suffering and had relatives or sons and daughters missing to Dr. Thiranagama. Dr.Thiranagama did what she could under the circumstances. She compiled their tales. In some cases she got friends to take it up with the Indian authorities. The Town Commandant, Jaffna,  who had pledged to help was appraised at least of two cases, one being the case of Sangaralingam whose wife and three daughters disappeared after being detained by an identified army unit. Nothing came out of this. To meet people in compiling this report, she had to cycle many miles at a time when many people were scared of being associated with those having war related problems.

Following links are UTHR (Jaffna) documents which throw more light on Dr. Thiranagama’s work and life.




RAJANI : Three Years After

The Importance of Keeping Rajani's Feminism Alive - 12 Ocober 1990

15 Years After Rajani:The Continuing Cost of Dissent :21st September 2004


No More Tears Sister - Film 2005

National Film Board Canada- No More Tears Sister

Films Website

Release of a Film on Rajani: No more Tears Sister:21st May 2005

Film - Press Kit

PBS- Anatomy of Hope and Betrayal


Dr. Rajani Thiranagama, 20th Anniversary Memorial Tributes: 21st September 2009





Home | History | Briefings | Statements | Bulletins | Reports | Special Reports | Publications | Links
Copyright © UTHR 2001