Canadian Tamil Congress

Canadian Tamil Congress

December 14, 2006 10:10 ET

Young Hero's Death Downplayed

Eleven-Year-Old Boy's Heroic Actions Ignored; Community Leaders Claim Discrimination

Attention: City Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, MEDIA ADVISORY--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 14, 2006) - Tamil-Canadians are reacting with abhorrence and disbelief that the tragic death of a heroic eleven-year-old boy is being manipulated to draw attention to the deportation charge his grieving father is currently facing.

Last Sunday, 11-year-old Birunthan Nadharajah fell into a frigid pond in a courageous attempt to save an older friend who had fallen through a thin sheet of ice. Birunthan's bravery unfortunately cost him his life as he tragically drowned in the process. Rather than hail the youth's noble act of bravery and personal sacrifice, the media have chosen instead to turn their gaze to the boy's father, Muralitharan Nadarajah, who faces possible deportation charges.

Tamil community leaders are condemning what they describe as impulsive suspicion and finger-pointing at immigrants, which they say are causing undue suffering to a grieving family and downplay the valiant nature of young Birunthan Nadarajah's actions last Sunday.

"This little boy gave up his life in an act of unimaginable bravery," explained David Poopalapillai, spokesperson for the Canadian Tamil Congress. "With the holiday season upon us, shouldn't this astounding act of generosity, and not the family's legal status, be the focal point here?" asked Poopalapillai.

"All we are hearing about is Mr. Nadarajah's deportation. It sickens me and pains the community to see this little boy ignored. Instead of being subjugated to this deportation commotion, the family should be allowed to properly grieve for their son and the public should be hearing accounts of this eleven-year-old hero, who was brave enough to plunge into an icy pond and risk his life when nearby older boys were unwilling to do so. Why aren't we seeing such stories reported?" questioned Poopalapillai.

According to close friends, Birunthan was a compassionate youngster with a passion for sports. A soccer enthusiast and captain of his junior volleyball team, Birunthan was always seen clutching a soccer ball wherever he went. In fact, on that fateful Sunday, the boys were heading out to play a friendly soccer match when an older colleague of Birunthan's fell through the ice. Without hesitation, Birunthan ran to the edge of the gaping hole and struggled to pull his friend out. Their combined weight cracked the ice beneath Birunthan and both boys fell into the water once again. When police arrived on the scene, they managed to recover the friend who had initially fallen into the pond in the nick of time; he remains in critical condition. By the time they found Birunthan Nadarajah, however, it was already too late.

"Had the boy not been of a visible minority origin, I'm sure his heroic actions, and not the questionable dealings of his father, would have been the center of media attention," commented Poopalapillai. "Why must every event involving a Tamil protagonist somehow be linked to the conflict in Sri Lanka or adopt a legal, ethical nature?

"Let us focus on the real newsworthy story here: young Birunthan's act of bravery," concluded Poopalapillai. "That is what everyone ought to be aware of and remember about these events."

Funeral ceremonies for Birunthan Nadarajah will be held this coming Saturday, from 9:00-11:00 am at Highland Memorial gardens in Don Mills.
/For further information: Fax: 416-240-1601/ IN: INTERNATIONAL, JUSTICE, POLITICS, RELIGION

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