Monday, August 15, 2005

A Good Man is Dead

Lakshman Kadirgamar, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, celebrated his 73 birthday not long ago. He first became Foreign Minister in 1994 – and spoke at American University on his first trip abroad in an official capacity. He knew his career was drawing to a close. Lately his conversations and talks have become more philosophical and reflective.

On Friday night he completed a speech at the Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike Conference Center and decided to go to his home, rather than his official residence, to he could end the day with a swim in his pool. It was just a few blocks away. He has been proud of his swimming prowess, boasting that he often swims 1,000 meters a day. The nights are beautiful, quiet and cool in the suburb where he lives, called Cinnamon Gardens. Huge ancient tulip trees create archways over the quiet streets and help to cool the air.

He completed his swim, climbed out of the pool, perhaps looked to see if the moon was visible through the leafy branches in the night sky… and he was felled by a fusillade of shots from a sniper, hidden in a nearby house. Within an hour, he was dead.

Lakshman Kadirgamar will not live to see his grandchildren mature or be able to reminisce about his days in power with scholars like me. He joins four other Sri Lankan politicians I have known whose lives ended violently.

A good man is dead. I grieve for him and for his country.


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