Jenny Jeyachandran (53 years)
‘’In 1983, we had paddy fields in Kitulwatte, Trincomalee, nearby the Sinhala colonies. We would come home to the town after working in the fields. There was a common caretaker for the land. Nearby the main road there was a canteen run by a Tamil. We would all drink tea and leave for home when the bus arrived. Near this canteen there was a house with a 1-½ year old child and its parents, a young couple. When the riots broke out, the Sinhalese people there, not the original residents but the colonised people, burnt this house down and threw the child out of the burning house, while the parents burnt inside. I didn’t see this happen but several weeks later when we went there the person running the canteen told us about this incident.’’
Jenny spoke to us in the house of a good friend in Paris, of her memories of the 83’ pogrom, most importantly those related to her workplace ‘Gandhiyam’. Her journey with ‘Gandhiyam’ begins in 1979 and continues until 1983. The founder, S.A. David and Secretary, Dr. Rajasundaram of ‘Gandhiyam’ are arrested in May 1983 after coming under government scrutiny and being falsely accused of harbouring militants. The ‘Gandhiyam’ office in Vavuniya is then sealed off and its staff questioned. The two arrested members are taken to the Welikada prison. Jenny fearful that the ‘Gandhiyam’ members would have also been massacred despite their dedication to the people, and for working according to Gandhian principles, continues to hope for their safety. On 25 July 1983 she receives news of Dr. Rajusundaram’s brutal death, which leaves an indelible mark in her life.
Jenny a resident of Trincomalee, after her time at ‘Gandhyam’ joined the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and led its Women’s Wing.
P. Vijayashanthan – Concept, Photography & Editing
Tanuja Thurairajah – Concept and Text Summaries