We are living through an era where the powers that be have become very cynical about life. In their very nature it suits them to dismiss any attempt to remember one life lost or to seek justice for one killed as wasting time over a single speck among tens of thousands who suffered a similar fate. They know that to go deep into any one death, to expose culpability and explain the irreparable harm it does to all of us, is to place the edifice of power on trial. That is why the memory of Rajani is so important; she was just such a person who insisted that the memory of every person who was a victim of organised, institutional violence was sacred, and that the whole truth should be placed on record for the people to judge. The public values she espoused, worked, and died for, are an important part of our heritage, particularly of left activism, that are an inspiration to those who come after her…
Rajani came into left politics conscious of the developments sketched above. She did not look to building a party, but rather a plural social movement in her locality, which would gain strength through small victories, and by forming ties of solidarity across Lanka, South Asia and the wider world…
Former Tanzanian foreign minister and subsequent political prisoner and exile, Mr. Mohamed Abdul Rahuman Babu, testified to Rajani’s internationalism and her faith in the triumph of justice at the commemoration for her at the University of Jaffna, 22nd November 1989:
“I first met her at a meeting organised by the African students in London in support of the Eritrean people to self determination. You’ll be surprised that Rajani, coming from Jaffna, getting herself involved in an issue that does not concern Tamils,…but concerns a remote people, three million people, in a corner of Africa, which Africa itself has ignored. You hear of liberation struggles, of Angola, of Mozambique, of South Africa. It’s fashionable to talk about these struggles, but you don’t hear about the struggle of the Eritrean people, because it has been embargoed, because it is a black colonial power against a black people. So to find somebody like Rajani conscious of this says a lot about the kind of person she was.
“Rajani lived and died at a great moment in history when we are seeing significant changes taking place in the Third World. The Third World went through the first phase of struggling for independence, and we were all involved in the national liberation struggles in one way or another. We got our independence only to discover that that independence has been hijacked. It had not served the people, but served a handful of people. It has left the poor people of Africa and Asia in a most poverty stricken state of affairs ever experienced in history…
“It is no longer a struggle against a distant oppressor…But it is a struggle within ourselves, and it needs a lot of determination and sacrifice because in this struggle it is easy to be isolated, it is easy to be called the enemy of the people, an enemy of the state. So the cost is very high and Rajani sacrificed her life for that, to side with the people.”
A strong element in Rajani’s passion for justice was her insistence on human relationships untrammeled by artificial barriers thrown up by institutions and discriminatory policies and customs. She detested any idea of greatness that required making others small through human barriers, institutional power, enforced poverty, and deprivation. Her main criticism of the LTTE was related to this. An unjust order, however distressing, was irrational, a transient will-o’-the-wisp, that leaves in a discerning observer a great sense of foreboding of an ephemeral order that is extremely destructive while it lasts. Time and again, our attention was drawn to what the South African struggle, one that Rajani closely identified with, shared with our own.
Next | Previous
Home | History | Briefings | Statements | Bulletins | Reports | Special Reports | Publications | Links
Copyright © UTHR 2001