A Tribute to Vanangaa Thamilan Mr Ivan Pedropillai BSc., MSc., FCCA., FCMA, CGMA
(1937 -2020) - A Tamil Warrior!
The news of our Patron's passing away peacefully on Tuesday 28th April 2020 was received with heavy hearts, intolerable grief and great sadness by not only his immediate family but also the members of the Tamil Writers Guild, other Tamil groups, colleagues and friends.
Our beloved Patron who was affectionately called 'Uncle Ivan' by most of us was not only the Patron but also one of the founder members of the TWG and its former chairman and editor in chief. He was a charming gentleman with a wonderful big smile and always presented himself in very smart attire. The late learned Patron was an eloquent speaker and a prolific writer, armed with fluency in the knowledge of Latin, Tamil and English. His intellectual capacity, fearless campaigning tenacity, the ability to conduct effective meetings and managing people with a great sense of humour won him not only the hearts and minds but also great respect amongst Tamil leaders, Tamil groups and the Tamil people alike.
He hailed from Jaffna, Sri Lanka with a well-educated family background and graduated from the University of Ceylon. He held high positions as a Finance Manager and Finance Consultant in Ceylon, Chief Accountant in Zambia and in the United Kingdom, he served as a Senior Executive in the international head office of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, London. Despite his work and other commitments, he played his part as a loving husband, father and grandfather at home and is survived by his well accomplished two children, grandchildren, siblings, in-laws and other extended family. His beloved fashionable and accomplished wife Indra who had been the pillar in his life and who whole heartedly supported his raising the voice for the voiceless, only passed away just two months ago. And he never recovered from that loss.
In early 1990, as a devoted Catholic he played a crucial role in establishing the Tamil Catholic Chaplaincy in the UK by working closely with the Bishop of Southwark. He became the first chairman of Tamil Catholic Association in London and later, worked as a member of the board of governors in a local school in South London. He further played a key part in the London branch of Thiruvasagam in Symphony project of Tamil Nadu.
Before and during his retirement, he worked tirelessly as an advocate and interlocutor for the advancement of the cause of the Tamils of North East Sri Lanka. He worked very closely with Tamil organisations in the UK for the betterment of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka. Through the TWG, Mr Pedropillai contributed to campaigns and meetings in the committee rooms of the House of Commons and various other events to expose the worsening plight of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and the urgent requirement of their self-determination to arrest the continued annihilation of Tamils.
When our Tamil brothers and sisters were facing subjugation and oppression back in Sri Lanka, Mr. Pedropillai along with his great friend, the late CJT Thamotheram and his colleagues, had the vision of forming the Tamil Writers Guild (in the English medium) back in May 2004. They did this in order to keep the international community informed, including all the international human rights groups, of the very sorry state of Tamils and the fact of them being forced to find safe havens in Western countries enmasse to avoid the largely unreported atrocities. The TWG still continues to uphold this mission by sharing news and Editorials with not only the Tamil diaspora but also with all relevant international governments and non-governmental agencies for the advancement of justice and peace with dignity for the Tamils of North Eastern Sri Lanka.
Mr Pedropillai further wrote profusely to safeguard the fundamental rights of the Tamils with the fires of Tamil rights and the self-determination of North East Sri Lanka burning in his heart. A collection of his articles, letters, speeches and Editorials have been published in the Book entitled 'Sri Lanka - Where was the World?' This Book was published in August 2009, immediately after the infamous climax of the May 2009 freedom war when over 40,000 innocent Tamil infants, children, women and elderly out of the 3 million Tamil population were mercilessly slaughtered, with bombs and shells raining down on hospitals, shelters and the no fire zone during the last three months of the war whilst the Western world and India turned a blind eye. Mr Pedropillai watched the Tamil masses protesting in Parliament Square and blocking the Westminster bridge to stop this carnage in vain. This whole episode is well documented in a TV series by UK based Channel4 called 'The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka'.
To us, our Patron had been a mentor, editor in chief, chairman, a friend, a colleague with a very disciplined working practice and great sense of humour whilst his enemies are those who wanted to hide the truth. He also had been a shining example and a beacon of hope for the oppressed Tamil people by often being critical of the ignorance of his fellow Tamils and campaign groups for not doing enough to advance the Tamils plight and the deliverance of justice for atrocities committed with the help of the international community in a more vigorous global fashion. In this respect, he recently set out a framework and his vision for the future of the TWG and other groups to work together to ensure that the Tamils of North East Sri Lanka walk free in their beloved land to govern themselves in the very near future, instead of being an occupied nation with a systematic destruction of their culture, identity, language and the resultant occupation and colonisation of their ancestral land.
In order to continue the spirit of our late Patron Ivan Pedropillai, we shall continue to work towards his aims and values, and empowering the young so that one day, the Tamils of North East Sri Lanka could live in peace, justice and with dignity, alongside our Sinhalese neighbours without any fear or hindrance to run our own affairs.
Finally, we know he has gone to join his loving God and creator in heaven and to meet his beloved wife Indra. We wish to convey our love and deepest sympathy to his sorrowing children and their families and sincerely hope they will find peace of mind and comfort from all of their loving memories of their father/grandfather. We grieve the loss of this colossus amongst us, but we also celebrate the life of one so special, eloquent and caring. May his soul Rest In Peace.
Tamil Writers Guild
Members and Editorial Board