Today marks the 31st Death Anniversary of Dr. Rajini Thiranagama, a human rights activist and former lecturer of the University of Jaffna. The Dr. Rajani Thiranagama Memorial Panel Discussion to mark the day under the theme of ‘Framing Democracy for Our Times’ will be held on September 26 at 3.00 pm in the Parish Hall of St. John the Baptist Church (next to St. John’s College, Jaffna), Main Street, Jaffna.
Prof. Deepika Udagama, Dayapala Thiranagama, and Prof. Shamala Kumar will be the speakers at the event organized by the Rajani Thiranagama Memorial Committee of the Jaffna People’s Forum for Coexistence
Thiranagama was shot and killed by the LTTE on September 21, 1989 after she had criticized the group’s activities in the North. At the time of her assassination, she was the head of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Jaffna and an active member of University Teachers for Human Rights, Jaffna branch of which she is one of the founding members.
Supportive of the LTTE at first, she later became a critic of the group. She criticized the narrow nationalism of the LTTE, and the atrocities committed by the LTTE, the Indian Peace Keeping Force, and the Sri Lankan government forces upon the innocent Tamil civilian population in Jaffna. She began to collect evidence of human rights violations of IPKF and LTTE. At the University of Jaffna, Rajini and some of her teacher colleagues founded the Jaffna branch of the University Teachers for Human Rights.
Having witnessed the evidence of human rights violations by the IPKF and LTTE, Rajani co-authored a book entitled The Broken Palmyra. The book documents the violence in Jaffna in the 1980s. A few weeks after the publication of the book The Broken Palmyra, on 21 September 1989, she was shot dead at Thirunelvely, Jaffna in front of her house by a gunman while cycling back from work.