Trevor Grant: A tireless fighter for justice bids adieu

Author of "Sri Lanka's Secrets: How the Rajapaksa Regime Gets Away with Murder" a rare account of war crimes committed against the Tamils by the Sri Lanka government and its foreign allies, Trevor Grant is no more.

Trevor lost his battle with mesothelioma, the asbestos cancer, in Australia on Sunday the 5th of March.

As a reputed sports journalist for 40 years, Trevor was respected by many for his professional integrity and commitment.

"He took the mission of speaking truth to power more to heart than any of his kind", wrote Greg Baum, chief sports columnist and associate editor with The Age.

"His writing had the same direct quality, but was also elegant and beautifully crafted, a rare combination. The byline alone told you the story would be worth reading", he added.

His account about the war that killed at least 70,000 unarmed Tamil men, women and children was unique, as he was one of the very few who exposed the guilt of the government of his own country. Many non-Sri Lankan writers who recorded the heinous crime committed by the Rajapaksa regime against Tamils were reluctant to acknowledge the complicity of their own governments; Trevor did not.

'A courageous man'

"This is such a tragic loss," said Callum Macrae, director of documentary, No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka.'

"With Trevor’s passing, Tamils, refugees and everyone concerned about truth and justice have lost a great friend and committed fighter. His commitment - which never wavered during his illness - should inspire us to continue the search for truth and justice.  Trevor was a good and courageous man. We will miss him."

Many feel the loss of a great activist writer, Trevor Grant.

Dr. N Malathy, a war survivor and author of 'A Fleeting Moment in My Country" remembers Trevor as “a man who was sure of the meaning of human life in a world that tries to convert human lives into mere consumers.”

"Living in an English speaking western country and mostly working as a cricket commentator during his younger days, his full understanding of the Eelam Tamil cause and becoming a passionate activist for the same is a very rare thing indeed. When I met him in November 2016, it was more than year since he was diagnosed with cancer. With a cushion under his arm to manage pain, he still discussed passionately about what is to be done," she said.

Sharing royalty

In contributing to his book on Sri Lanka, JDS was able to assist him in many ways and introduced him to the Tamil journalist from the war zone who provided many of the photographs that portray the horrors of the final stages of the war. When Trevor learnt that the person who took enormous risks to record the horrendous crimes in Mullivaikkkal was languishing in a refugee camp in Europe, he worked tirelessly to support his asylum claim.

Trevor wrote: "I owe a significant debt of gratitude to the many brave Tamil photo-journalists and photographers amateur and professional, who have contributed so much to this book. Every one of them deserves to be acknowledged personally and effusively".

That acknowledgement was indeed personal and effusive. He contributed half the royalty of his book to them.

'Voice for justice'

"Trevor was a dedicated journalist and a truly gifted writer," said Beate Arnestad, the award winning Norwegian documentary film maker.

"We have lost a true humanitarian and a strong voice and advocate for justice and protection for victims of war and countless human rights abuses. He will be deeply missed," she added.

Trevor Grant served as the convenor of the Tamil Refugee Council which he co-founded and provided support for many refugees. Apart from founding the Refugee Radio at 3CR Community Radio, he often organised vigils and protests to highlight the ongoing human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

'A true friend'

"Trevor was incredibly passionate about the Tamil people and their cause, and our community will not be the same without him," said the Tamil Refugee Council, in a statement.

"He visited refugee camps in India to meet with families of those impacted by the war. He supported the community through material aid, trips to hospitals and doctor’s visits, Christmas parties and visits to detention centres. He was also a committed supporter of Palestine, West Papua, and Indigenous peoples around the world. As an advocate and a friend, you will be missed," it further added.

Trevor, a passionate trade unionist, was a member of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance and remained actively involved with the Australian Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), until his death.

JDS sorely feels the loss of an invaluable friend and willing contributor, whose remarkable passion for justice will celebrated by many.

Lead photo courtesy Manuela Cifra | Herald Sun


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Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.