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Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamils - a Nation without a State > Canada  > Maampalam Swamy, an Eelam Patriot Passes Away

Tamils - a Nation without a State

Canada - கனடா
- an estimated 300,000 Tamils live in Canada -


Maampalam Swamy, an Eelam Patriot Passes Away

Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

16 December 2008

It is with a deep sense of loss and sadness that we mourn the sudden passing away of a great Eelam patriot Maampalam Swamy in New Jersey, USA on 14, December 2008. A passionate advocate of peace, freedom and dignity, he worked indefatigably to bring to the forefront the prolonged pain and suffering of his people in Tamil Eelam and to draw international attention to the genocide in Sri Lanka. He was a committed humanist first and his compassion extended to all humanity. He will remain a legendry figure to his people, the people he had helped to uplift.

Whilst studying Theology in India he worked to improve the quality of life of the poorest of the poor in Tamil Nadu. Fondly referred to as Kulanthai (Baby) Swamy he is still remembered with much affection and gratitude there, his photo adorning the homes of the many people he had helped. When he visited the area after 35 years the whole village was ecstatic, giving him a rousing reception that showed that they never forgot.

He was proud of his Tamil heritage. While as an assistant parish priest in the church of �Our Lady of Refuge� in Jaffna he was one of the pioneers in the Catholic Church who celebrated the �Pongal Festival� held annually in mid January as a �Tamil Festival� integrating this very Tamil custom and tradition into the Tamil Christian way of life. The �Pongal Festival� has now been accepted and adopted as the �Tamil New Year� in Tamil Nadu by all Tamils regardless of their religious background.

He strived to erase the pernicious practice of class and caste divisions prevailing among Tamils. By encouraging all youth to work together through sports and other activities he helped to break these barriers in the Catholic Church where normally separate pews were allocated to the high caste �elite�.

When serving in the Mannar district under the government�s land alienation scheme for educated youth he not only helped both educated young men and women to obtain land but also under a �youth cooperative scheme� he arranged for them to learn agriculture and farming methods to help cultivate the land and was instrumental in improving the lot of Tamil youth.

In 1977 with government help he helped settle internally displaced plantation workers affected by the pogrom against Tamils in a purpose built village which he helped to create called �Valan Nakar� complete with medical and transport facilities enabling them to live in a peaceful and secure environment.

Maampalam Swamy believed in preserving the Tamil identity for posterity and as an eloquent speaker he clearly articulated these thoughts and ideas effectively. His charismatic personality and sincerity of purpose won him the respect and veneration of the Tamil people. He was committed to democracy and non-violence and was a strong proponent of the concept of the right to self-determination for Eelam Tamils, actively championing the cause of Eelam independence.

While living in the US Maampalam Swamy became a prolific writer, poet and lyricist, his writings were based on the Tamil language, the Tamil freedom struggle and its history. He wrote �Azham Vizhuthugal� and �Maampookal� and wrote the lyrics and produced the song �Vedda Vedda Thazhaikum� in memory of tsunami victims. As a testament to the love he had for his people and to their freedom he recently released a CD named 'Viduthazhaiyin Vasazhil� (at the gateway of freedom) and was in the midst of writing another book at the time of his untimely demise.

Maampalam Swamy returned to Sri Lanka and to his native Tamil Eelam in the aftermath of the tsunami in December 2004. He served in the worst affected areas, providing counselling and relief to people traumatized by the effects of decades of war and by a massive South Asian tsunami that directly hit the island of Sri Lanka from the East causing maximum devastation to Tamil areas. Since the promised massive international humanitarian aid was not reaching the worst affected people of the North and East, he worked ceaselessly upon his return to the US to ensure that any humanitarian aid, he and others secured from the Tamil Diaspora reached the actual victims.

A man of compassion and peace equally concerned for the welfare of both the Tamils and Sinhalese he was deeply troubled by the war in his native Tamil Eelam.

He will be sorely missed by not only Eelam Tamils all over the world but others he has touched and inspired just simply in his daily life.

His life�s work will serve as a beacon of light for all freedom activists and humanists alike.


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