Hundreds of people including Tamil political leaders and civil society leaders mourned the passing away of Ghanthiyam Founder Solomon Arulananthan David.
He passed away at the age of 91 in Killinochi on Sunday. His funeral took place today in Kilinochhci, after hundreds paid homage to his remains at Kilinochhci Central primary school.
He is a native of Karampan East and dedicated his life in the service of the Tamil people.
David Iya was the President of “Gandhiyam”, a non-governmental organisation established in 1977 in the northern Sri Lankan area of Vavuniya to settle upcountry Tamils of Indian origin who were displaced by episodes of violence in the 1970s. Under the leadership of David Iya, Gandhiyam settled thousands of upcountry Tamils in Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Mannar by providing them financial assistance, housing and other facilities.
David Iya was known for his exceptional energy, commitment, and guidance on compassionate social values to the youth who were involved in the Tamil Eelam Liberation struggle. He was a true Gandhiyan and was opposed to violence. He was a hardened opponent of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) of Sri Lanka. He and his colleague Dr. Rajasundaram, Secretary of Gandhiyam, undertook the cause against the PTA. They campaigned against the use of the PTA exclusively against the Tamil people, particularly the Tamil youth.
He was arrested on 7 April 1983 and imprisoned. Although he was subjected to severe torture in detention, in his later writings he did not neglect to mention the Sinhalese prison officers who showed compassion and kindness towards Tamil prisoners. He was one of the few who escaped the massacre of Tamil prisoners by Sinhalese prisoners in Colombo’s Welikada Central Prison on 25 July 1983. He survived the mass murder along with Dr. Dharmalingam, Dr. Jeyakularajah, Nithiyananthan and Suthanthiran editor Kovai Mahesan. He was then transferred to Batticaloa prison, from where he and his friends escaped on 23 September 1983 and fled to India.
He carried on his fight in exile in India for freedom and justice of the Tamil people. He often expressed his desire to return and to die in his homeland. He returned to Sri Lanka last month after two decades. He was shocked to see the devastation of his land and the plight of the people. He was shattered and heartbroken. David Iya’s dying wish was to have his personal library in Chennai brought to the Vanni for the use of the people.