Senthuran Rajeswaran commits suicide demanding release of political prisoners
Tamil student in Jaffna commits suicide demanding release of political prisoners
[TamilNet, Thursday, 26 November 2015, 08:39 GMT]
Leaving behind a letter demanding the Maithiripala regime in Colombo to immediately release Tamil political prisoners, 18-year-old Advanced Level Arts section student of Kokkuvil Hindu College, Senthuran Rajeswaran from Koappaay North, sacrificed his life Thursday morning by jumping in front of a speeding ‘Sri Lankan’ train at Kokkuvil junction. “In Tamil Elam, always loving Tamils,” he ended his letter just a day ahead of Eezham Tamils world over observing the Tamil Eelam Heroes Day.
Senthuran Rajeswaran (18.09.1997 – 26.11.2015)
“Even a student like me is able to understand the significance of releasing all political prisoners immediately. There should be no political prisoner in the prisons.”
“I am disappointed to see the inability of the ‘Good Governance’ government to understand this,” Senthuran has written in his final letter.
“The government must deliver [release of] all tamil political prisoners, immediately,” he wrote in English.
Senthuran hails from an average agricultural family. He was a silent and focused student. He has a brother and three sisters, his fellow students said.
His body was found torn into pieces in school uniform and tension prevailed at Kokkuvil following the tragic incident.
Students at the University of Jaffna launched a protest against the Sri Lankan State soon after the news of the incident Thursday morning.
The letter left behind by Senthuran Rajeswaran
Senthuran’s death reflection of disillusioned North
Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan addressing Parliament yesterday condoled with the family of Rajeswaran Senthuran (18) who committed suicide emphasizing the release of Tamil political prisoners by jumping in front of a moving train at the Kondavil Railway Station in Jaffna on Thursday (26).
Sampanthan while condoling with the family of Senthuran, had stated that the incident had demonstrated the frustration of the people in the North and the East, especially the mindset of the youngsters who were disillusioned over the unresolved issues such as the disappearances and the prolonged detention of Tamil political prisoners.
A month ago the children of the Tamil political prisoners staged a demonstration in Jaffna and handed over a memorandum, urging the release of all Tamil political prisoners, to the Northern Province Chief Minister, C.V. Wigneswaran, to be sent to President Maithripala Sirisena.
A letter written to President Maithripala Sirisena urging the release of all Tamil political prisoners was also found in the possession of Kokuvil Hindu College student R. Senthuran who committed suicide on Thursday in Kondavil.
In the letter written in his own handwriting in Tamil, Senthuran had penned certain sentences in English as well highlighting his disappointment over the prolonged detention of the Tamil political prisoners.
Letter to President
Senthuran in his letter to the President had stated that if it was good governance it should release all Tamil political prisoners. “The good governance has not understood the pain of mind I suffer over the prolonged detention of Tamil political prisoners. So give them their freedom. My love for Tamil people is greater than my life”, Senthuran wrote in his letter.
Senthuran was an Advanced Level student at the Kokuvil Hindu College where the legendry educationist late Handy Perinbanayagam had been the Principal from 1950 to 1960.
Handy Perinbanayagam was one of the founders of the Jaffna Youth Congress (JYC) which had voiced for the rights of the Tamils during the British period while expressing its solidarity with the progressive forces which spearheaded the freedom struggle against the British in the South.
The prominent political figures from the South such as late Prime Minister Sir John Kotelawala and late President J.R. Jayewardene had even visited Kokuvil Hindu College during the early days of their politics.
The iconic late journalist S. Sivanayagam who served in the Ceylon Daily News and at the Daily Mirror in the fifties and sixties was also a product of Kokuvil Hindu College. It was late Sivanayagam who had even been the founder editor of the now defunct Saturday Review of Jaffna in the early eighties.
The eighteen-year-old Advanced Level student Senthuran from Kokuvil Hindu College was also studying media as one of his favourite subjects.
According to his classmates and family members Senthuran was a quiet and persevering student .They also went on to say that even in his class room or with his friends he hardly spoke politics.
On the day (26 November) Senthuran committed suicide, the Jaffna University students made extensive arrangements to observe the ‘Martyrs Day’ amidst stringent security measures in Jaffna.
Forty years ago, in 1974, twenty four-year-old Ponnuthurai Sivakumar a Tamil political activist from Urumpirai, Jaffna became the first to commit suicide by swallowing cyanide.
Sivakumar was an ardent supporter of the Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK), was a member in the youth wing of the party and was in the forefront of the party’s political activities.
Sivakumar swallowed cyanide when he was surrounded by the police in connection with an attempt to launch a bomb attack.
It was also at the Kondavil Railway Station where Senthuran committed suicide, a number of Yaldevi bogies were set on fire by Tamil militants in the early eighties.
Apart from Tamil militants, mainly from the LTTE, committing suicide by swallowing cyanide capsules and blowing themselves up as suicide cadres, several sympathizers of Sri Lankan Tamils in the State of Tamil Nadu had also committed suicide by self-immolation and even by jumping before moving trains during the final phase of the civil war in 2009.
Hopes on good governance
Student Senthuran on Thursday (26) committed suicide by calling for the release of Tamil political prisoners. Nearly 270 Tamil political prisoners who have been detained in the prisons for more than fifteen to twenty years frequently stage fasts unto death demanding their release. Some of them were even hospitalized when their health condition deteriorated. But none of them died like LTTE’s Partheepan alias Thileepan who had fasted unto death opposing the Indo–Lanka Accord of 1987.
However, the failures in the recent moves in releasing all Tamil political prisoners and the disappointment over the pledges made by the political leadership had led to the death of Senthuran who had clearly mentioned in his letter to President Sirisena that the good governance has not understood the pain of mind he experienced over the prolonged detention of Tamil political prisoners.
So the untimely death of Kokuvil Hindu College student Senthuran has highlighted the anxiety and the expectations in the post-war Northern region where countless demonstrations have been staged over several humanitarian issues including the release of Tamil political prisoners.
As the people in the North and the East had played a significant role in creating a new regime in the country pinning their hopes on good governance, the death of Senthuran outlines the need of the political leadership of the country responding humanely to the people traumatized by prolonged war.