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Reggie Rajapakse , US Scholar , Historian And Relentless Fighter For His Motherland Dies While Visiting Sri Lanka
By Walter Jayawardhana reporting from Los Angeles
Professor Reginald Rajapakse , former teacher of the University of Pennsylvania, a respected historian in the United States and a Sri Lankan patriot who relentlessly fought against massive propaganda campaigns against his motherland died at Navaloka Hospital, Colombo. Reggie, as he was well known in the Sri Lankan circles in the United States, was spending a vacation in Sri Lanka with his wife Nancy, away from his home in Philadelphia, when he took ill suddenly and died at the age of 71, after a brief illness, Friday August 10.
Inheriting a great literary tradition , being the grandson of Aluthgamage Simon De Silva, accepted by many as the writer of the first novel written in Sinhala language, "Meena", Reggie translated his maternal grandfather's historical work in to English and published it after he retired from the University of Pennsylvania, an ivy league school, as a history professor.
Before the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was banned here, during the heyday of the Sri Lankan separatist propaganda in the United States, Dr. Reginald Rajapakse became the only history academic in the US to speak publicly against the false propaganda of the enemies of his motherland.
Dr. G.A.P.Ganepola, Associate Professor of Surgery at New York's Columbia University, a colleague who worked very closely with Rajapakse on these anti-Eelam projects said, "Reggie was a very powerful speaker for Sri Lankan matters at US Congressional hearings. His opinion was well respected even among those who were not very friendly towards Sri Lanka. He should be remembered by all patriotic Sri Lankans for his unique contribution rendered to upkeep the reputation of his motherland which, fortunately survived despite a massive anti-Sri Lanka propaganda unleashed by a set of scheming and untiring enemies."
"With the work of many other expatriate Lankans," said Ganepola , "his work led into the banning of the LTTE in the United States."
As a historian he brought credibility to Sri Lanka at many public debates held with the Lankan separatists in the United States. With this writer he participated in a television debate defending Sri Lanka against a team of Eelamists in Boston at a New York television station. This writer also had the privilege of being a team member with him and Ganepola at a public debate at the University of California Los Angeles representing Sri Lanka where the opposing side was led by former Leader of opposition the late Appapillai Amirthalingam . The debate financed by India's RAW, which was backing the LTTE those days was on Sri Lanka's separatist question. At that debate he argued against pro-eelam historians alleging them for "attempting to prove a thesis"
When India's maverick politician Subramanium Swamy organized an anti-Sri Lanka conference at Harvard University with many LTTE leaders Reggie was there too with his Sri Lankan Professor colleague K.M.de Silva and many others successfully defending Sri Lanka. "He could counter Eelam propaganda easily," said a colleague , "with his profound knowledge of Sri Lanka history."
Reggie Rajapakse started his life as a teacher of St. Joseph's College Colombo and migrated with his wife to the United States to do his postgraduate studies. He leaves his wife Nancy.
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