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12 August 2006

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Kethesh Loganathan, Deputy Secretary to the government’s Peace Secretariat, is assassinated at his home.  The government blames the LTTE for the killing.

Sri Lankan government clashes with Tamil rebels,
The Guardian, 15 August 2006; Ketheeswaran Loganathan and the Tamil Dissidents’ Dilemma, University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), 15 August 2006; Ketheesh: Champion of Tamil Rights in United Lanka, D.B.S. Jeyaraj, Transcurrents, 18 August 2006.


“Sinhala and Tamil nationalism have reached their respective cross-roads. They, now have to decide whether to part company or to map out a common cause leading to meaningful co-existence – that of diverse identities, as opposed to the hegemony of one identity over the other,” Kethesh Loganathan (1996), Sri Lanka: Lost Opportunities: Past Attempts at Resolving Ethnic Conflict.

“One more person capable of rising above hatred and insanity in present day Sri Lanka is no more. With his departure one more Tamil who wanted his people to live with equal rights in a united Lanka and champion that cause in the face of danger has been done away with. Only a few of us are left now.  … At the time of his death Ketheesh was Deputy Secretary-General of the Secretariat for coordinating the peace process (SCOPP) and Secretary of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC). This makes him appear as a pro-government “establishment” man. The eulogies heaped on him by the “government guys” reinforce this impression. This is perhaps the unkindest cut of all,” D.B.S. Jeyaraj, 18 August 2006.

“Kethesh Loganathan was a valued colleague, a former Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and the first head of its Peace and Conflict Analysis Unit. He was a passionate advocate of human rights, an unflinching champion of the rights of the Tamil people and of an end to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka with democracy, justice and dignity for all. … Whilst Kethesh was an ardent and proud nationalist, he brought the same fervour, passion and commitment to the cause of unity in diversity, multi-culturalism and a settlement of the ethnic conflict based on meaningful power sharing. He uncompromisingly believed that the liberation of a people could not be founded on fear, the celebration of death, the negation or even suspension of basic democratic values. This made him a stringent and fearless critic of the LTTE for their insistence on being the sole representatives of the Tamil people and for their reliance on terror, repression and violence,” Dr. Pakiasothy Saravanamuthu, Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), August 2006.

“Ketheeswaran was consistent in his dedication to the welfare of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. In the early 1980s which saw growing communal violence directed at Tamils it was natural for a decent left oriented Tamil with an intellectual bent to join the EPRLF, which he did. The struggle he joined was destroyed by the LTTE in 1986. After very difficult times for his people, Ketheeswaran found openings for his interests in justice and a political settlement among Colombo-based NGOs. He strongly objected to the degradation of human rights in the 2002 ceasefire agreement and on occasions was almost alone in voicing his concern over the conscription of children in the Colombo NGO fora, which Norway, the NGOs and the government wanted to downplay. Erik Solheim was quick to mark him out as an adversary. Ketheeswaran never forgot that he had been a militant. He stayed on in the EPRLF and left it only in 1994 after differences with an individual who too later left. His background enabled him to easily make the transition to activism in civil society. He was constant in his concern that other militants too should be given the means and opportunity to come out into civil and political life. He pushed for the Norwegian initiated peace process to address this cause for all militants including from the LTTE. But after the Karuna split the Norwegians pinned the label ‘paramilitary’ on all non-LTTE groups, this effort came to a standstill,” Rajan Hoole, University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), 15 August 2006.

“Kethesh Loganathan’s decision to join the Rajapakse regime’s “peace” secretariat was bewildering at the time. It still is after his assassination, presumably at the hands of the LTTE. … Kethesh’s belief that he could somehow influence what is clearly a rabidly Sinhala nationalist government – work within the system – was, at best, a miserable mistake. But we all misstep, don’t we? Only, Kethesh’s – and make no mistake about it – was an error of judgment made in the interests of peace. For he wanted, as he had all his life, to make a difference. His decision to quit the Center for Policy Alternatives was spurred, in part, by his increasing isolation within the more influential sections of the peace lobby. They think hope is spelled R-a-n-i-l. They understand peace as the absence of war. To Kethesh – no mere nationalist, but a leftist, after all – things were not so simple. He argued consistently [that] peace wasn’t synonymous with appeasing the LTTE at any cost; that the process should be inclusive – of other Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala opinion; that human and democratic rights should not be exchanged merely for an LTTE promise to stop killing Sinhalese. This made him inconvenient to sections of the peace lobby, which has made a habit of excusing LTTE massacres of Sinhala and Muslim civilians, of not protesting its systematic stifling of oppositional Tamils. And, as the UTHR(J) noted, he got marked as an opponent by the Norwegians,” Qadri Ismail, Peace Without Appeasement: Honouring Kethesh.

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This event was the subject of a feature: Assassination of an activist.

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