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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 78

Amirthalingham Era – A book review

[b]Amirthalingham Era – A book review[/b]

Reviewed by K.T.Rajasingham

“It is a pity that Amirthalingam had been killed at a time he had emerged a real national leader. …. All these years he had been a fiery Tamil leader, concerned only about the rights of the Tamil people. Since February he had become a mellowed and mature Sri Lankan leader, with the interest of the nation as his prime concern. Since of late I had developed a very good working relationship with him.”

This quote, culled from the recently published Tamil biography of the great Tamil leader, A.Amirthalingham, was written by no other than Srimavo Bandaranaike, who was at that time the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. She wrote this in memory of Amirthalinigam after he was killed killing on 13 July 1989.

Kathir Balasundaram has written an insightful book on the life of Amirthalingham in Tamil. Amirthalingam Sagaptham (Political Biography: Amirthalingam Era). The new facts revealed by the author will be invaluable to students of politics.

Kathir Balasundarama hails from Avarangal, a brother of ‘Avarangal’ Sinnathurai who was one the founder members of Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchchi (ITAK -Federal Party) as well as Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). Balasundaram, an emeritus Principal of Union College, Tellipalai, is a prolific writer who has also written and published novels and short stories collections in Tamil.

The book, a hard cover edition with a cover picture of a bespectacled portrait of Amirthalingham in a pensive and somber mood, runs into 424 pages. Printed in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and India it is published by Amirthalingam Memorial Foundation, London.

The author has divided the book into three sections, consisting of 65 chapters, written in very short and simple language. The Tamil sentences are lucid, written in the modern idiom by a well versed veteran Tamil scribe.

The author tries to portray a true picture of late Amirthalingham who has been mostly misunderstood by the Sinhalese. Amirthalingham, popularly hailed with love and affection as Amir, Thalapathy (Commander), Thalaivar, (Leader) has been painted as someone who promoted violence and encouraged youths to take up arms against the government which was not so.

On the contrary, his biographer presents him as a benign person who believed strongly in the rule of law, freedom of expression, right to life. Amirthalingam comes out as a leader who always condemned violence. Right throughout his lifetime he appealed to the Tamil youths to give up arms and carry on their struggle along the pacifist path following S.J.V.Chelvanayakam who was also called Eelaththu Gandhi.

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