Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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Jeyam Thamotheram

An untiring servant of the cause of freedom for his people 

by Rev. Dr. S.J. Emmanuel, Germany

I came in contact with Mr.CJT.Thamotheram during the last ten years of my engagement with the Tamil cause. Being a a Christian believer and a respected senior Tamil citizen with a passion for truth and justice, he was a valuable advisor and  an encouraging friend for me. I regret my inability to be present at the Thanksgiving Service in his honour of him in London.

Though I had young Mr.C.J.T.Thamotheram as my teacher at Patrick’s College, Jaffna and later Prof. C.J. Eliezer as my professor at Ceylon University, both these men of Hartley College, Vadamaradchy impressed me, not so much by their  teaching of mathematics, but by their mature understanding of the Tamil Struggle and by their devotion to the noble cause of freedom.

Without a Chelvanayagam and a Thaninayagam, or an Ambalavanar and an Eliezer, the contribution of Christian leaders to the Tamil struggle would have been minimal. Similarly, without the initiatives and endurance of Jeyam Thamotheram among the UK Tamils during the last two decades, the Tamil Struggle would have suffered without the support of the  English-educated Tamils in London.  Jeyam was a humble instrument of God in connecting people by his telephone calls, bringing them together towards a consensual vision and moving them into action.

Mr. Jeyam Thamotheram, though migrating to the UK long before the Black July of 1983, sensed early the lack of true patriotism, self-respect and solidarity among the Tamils in the UK. Living in England meant for most of the expatriates imitating, if not ape-ing, the British way of life and giving up their love for their homeland and their mother-tongue. Admiration of white values and lack of self-respect were still part of the post-colonial mentality inhibiting many of the English-educated. To arrest these tendencies, which go against the Tamil struggle, Jeyam quickly founded the first Tamil school and went on to bring together senior Tamils of divergent or no political views towards a common vision of the Tamil liberation struggle. Living among a community that is very self-conscious about intellectual and professional achievements and material wealth, Jeyam succeeded only because of his humble approach and enduring efforts in bringing  together the largest gathering of senior Tamils. He was thus instrumental in lessening the gap between generations and in enabling a better understanding of the militant struggle.

Based on his Christian conviction of seeing all human beings as his brothers and sisters, his social engagement for the welfare of teachers in Ceylon and in the UK, as well as his political engagement to serve the cause of justice and freedom, knew no barriers of race or religion. In fact, by his amiable and sincere ways, he persuaded many talented Sinhalese and Englishmen to defend the Tamil cause.

God, Lord of Life and Giver of gifts!
We thank you for the gift of a long life to our brother Jeyam.
With the gifts of faith, courage and endurance
He has served the cause of Truth, Justice and Freedom.
Thank you, Lord, for planting him at this critical junction of our history,
And among the expatriate intellectuals and professionals with a mission to serve.
Without his courageous initiatives and enduring efforts
Many would have still stood behind their fences without any contribution to the struggle.

For a people dreaming of an identity and a homeland,
Lord, you have given not only a Chelvanayagam and a Thaninayagam
An Ambalavanar  and an Eliezer
But also a Jeyam to guide them in their vision and move them on their journey.

Lord in your Mercy, raise among us men and women, with a prophetic courage
To stand up for the Truth of history and for the values of justice and freedom.
Bring all those who are still lukewarm and reluctant to come to the fore
And do their mite in lessening the agony and hastening the liberation of our people.

Jeyam was instrumental in encouraging the less courageous
to take up more responsibility on behalf of the weak and the oppressed.
He stood neither on the stage nor sat in the front rows of gatherings,
but stood “tele-connected”  to all parts of the world and worked behind the curtains.
Jeyam has fulfilled his mission with a Christian vision.

Among the dispersed and discordant Diaspora
He was an instrument of unity and a point of convergence
He kept us all rightly motivated to serve the cause of freedom.
His initiatives and services were varied and enduring
With patience and endurance he kept us all moving
With phone calls and letters he pleaded and reconciled.
He left no stone unturned to serve the supreme cause of liberation.

Lord now you have taken this faithful Servant Jeyam from among our midst.
We are poorer by his absence, but made richer by the spirit he has bequeathed to us.
His memory will enliven us. His spirit will move us forward.
You only grant us the grace to be loyal to his memory and his mission.