The Board of Governors of NESOHR met on the 13th of February 2005 to express their profound sadness and sense of loss of the sudden and tragic demise of Mr. A. Chandra Nehru, a founder member of NESOHR and former TNA Parliamentarian for the Amparai District. The meeting commenced with the observance of silence as a mark of respect and the flying of the NESOHR flag at half mast.
Mr. Nehru was a fearless and goal-oriented Human Rights (HR) advocate, activist, and campaigner who steered through the highly militarized and inhospitable environment that prevails in the NorthEast to defend and protect the Human Rights of those who were voiceless and helpless victims of both the man-made and natural disasters that have been plaguing the region.
It was Mr. Nehru's individual efforts, both as a private citizen and as a member of parliament, that attracted him to other like-minded HR activists and which led to the creation of NESOHR. True to his character and personality, he stood alone in the face of daunting challenges to serve the needs of those who were denied and deprived of their rights and freedom, as enunciated in the UN Charter, International Conventions and Covenants relating to Humanitarian Laws and Human Rights. Mr. Nehru's contributions to his people in his electorate and region were numerous, invaluable and timely. It may be appropriate at this juncture to recall and place on record a few of these contributions.
1. Mr. Nehru actively engaged himself in land-rights related issues concerning the victims of the Amparai District, which was an outcome of the peculiar dynamics that developed as a consequence of the protracted and violent ethnic conflict.
2. He was at the forefront to secure the release of PTA detainees, who for many years were languishing in prisons in Sri Lanka, without access to justice.
3. Although his period of tenure in Parliament was brief, he did bring to light and place on record in Parliament many of the HR violations that have taken place in the NorthEast for the benefit of the local and international HR community to initiate the necessary corrective actions.
4. He was a member of the NESOHR delegation that visited Geneva in October 2004 to engage and dialogue with the International HR Institutions, to shed light on the status of HR violations in the NorthEast and recommend possible recourse to justice and enjoyment of human rights and freedom. Some of the institutions that met Mr. Nehru as part of the NESOHR delegation included the UN High Commission for Human Rights, Amnesty International, International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Watch, International Committee of the Red Cross and many other internationally renowned Human Rights Activists such as Mr. Ian Martin, the former chairman of Amnesty International.
5. Finally, it is whilst returning to Batticaloa after immersing himself in the relief and rehabilitation endeavors aimed at serving the immediate and long term needs, as well as the protection of human rights of the people affected by Tsunami of December 26th, 2004, that Mr. Nehru met with his violent death.
Mr. Nehru's sudden and tragic end is an irreparable loss for NESOHR, the HR fraternity, both local and International, and the downtrodden and helpless citizenry of the NorthEast.
It is our considered view that the void created by Mr. Nehru's untimely death will be extremely difficult to fill, if not impossible.
May His Soul rest in Peace and find Eternal Bliss.
Rev. Fr. M. X. Karunaratnam, Chairperson
Posted February 14, 2005