Former Sri Lankan minister Mangala Samaraweera passed away from COVID-19 on Tuesday, following admission into an Intensive Care Unit at a private hospital in Colombo earlier this month.
During his lifetime he held prominent positions in various governments in Sri Lanka, including under Chandrika Kumaratunga, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena.
Marking his death, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Alaina Teplitz, stated on Twitter:
My deepest condolences to family, friends, and the Sri Lankan people on the passing of Mangala Samaraweera - a patriot, a humanitarian, and a leader. His passion for peace and democracy are an inspiration that shall not be extinguished.
— Ambassador Teplitz (@USAmbSLM) August 24, 2021
The US Ambassador to India Atul Keshap, who was formerly posted to Sri Lanka, similarly released a statement reading:
Dear @MangalaLK, I am plunged into grief over your passing. I will always cherish and hold in my heart the memories of happier and hopeful times together. You were the most fearless, decent, visionary, and big-hearted diplomat I ever met. May your beautiful soul attain Nirvana. pic.twitter.com/nQMM04Rsj0
— Atul Keshap (@USAmbKeshap) August 24, 2021
Samantha Power, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development and former United States Ambassador to the United Nations also released a statement on Twitter stating she was "grateful to have worked w/ him to strengthen US-Sri Lanka ties" andshe would "miss his wise counsel, tremendous wit, & rare gift for friendship". See her thread below:
I am devastated by the passing of Mangala Samaraweera, former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, a great patriot and statesman, advocate for democracy and human rights, and a treasured friend. My sincere condolences to his family and the people of #SriLanka. 1/4 pic.twitter.com/OkgxMfutUn
— Samantha Power (@PowerUSAID) August 24, 2021
The British High Commissioner, Sarah Hulton, responded to Samaraweera’s passing by posting:
I am very saddened by the death of Mangala. He gave me a warm welcome when I arrived in Sri Lanka and I’ve valued our discussions ever since. His commitment to a peaceful and inclusive SL was always evident. My condolences to his family, friends and all those mourning his loss. https://t.co/vsqoH90AQZ
— Sarah Hulton OBE (@SarahHultonFCDO) August 24, 2021
The British High Commission in Colombo said:
Deeply saddened by the death of former Minister Mangala Samaraweera and we extend our condolences to his family and friends. His hard work to strengthen the UK-SL relationship and his commitment to achieve post-war reconciliation in Sri Lanka, will not be forgotten.
— UK in Sri Lanka (@UKinSriLanka) August 24, 2021
Former British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris posted:
Saddened to hear of the death of Mangala Samaraweera, proud Sri Lankan, capable leader, warm-hearted and generous friend and host. On each of the many occasions we met an unfailingly determined and committed champion of human rights and reconciliation in his beloved island. pic.twitter.com/wX7XMbOLv7
— James Dauris (@JamesDauris) August 24, 2021
India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr S Jaishankar’s message read:
Deeply grieved at the passing away of former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.
A warm and generous personality and a true friend of India.
May his soul rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/LOrvNVQ2ca
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) August 24, 2021
India’s High Commission in Sri Lanka added:
— India in Sri Lanka (@IndiainSL) August 24, 2021
Former Indian Foreign Secretary and former Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Nirupama Rao tweeted:
So very, very sad to hear this. Mangala Samaraweera was an outstanding representative of his country, balanced and mature of judgement and a great proponent of Sri Lanka-India friendship and understanding. May he rest in peace. Om Shanti. https://t.co/y7NY9BUsYs
— Nirupama Menon Rao, നിരുപമ മേനോൻ റാവു (@NMenonRao) August 24, 2021
Germany’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Holger Seubert, stated on Twitter:
Deeply saddened by the passing of former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.I offer my sincere condolences to his family, friends & the people of Sri Lanka. He was instrumental in providing leadership,defending human rights, peace & democracy & will always be fondly remembered.
— Ambassador Holger Seubert (@GermanAmbColo) August 24, 2021
Switzerland's Ambassador Dominik Furgler tweeted:
The news of the passing of Mangala Samaraweera fills us with great sadness. During these difficult times, we like to extend our condolences to his family and the Sri Lankan people. We will always remember him as an inspirational leader, great patriot and true partner.
— Dominik Furgler (@SwissAmbLKA) August 24, 2021
A broad swathe of Sri Lankan politicians from across the South also responded to his death.
Sri Lanka’s president Gotabaya Rajapaksa stated on a Facebook post that Samaraweera "made a significant contribution to the Sri Lankans by launching great transformations in the course of Sri Lankan politics".
The Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stated on Twitter:
I am deeply saddened to hear of the untimely passing of my friend & colleague Mangala Samaraweera. Today we have lost a great leader, a man who loved this nation. I thank him for his service to #lka. My condolences to his family. May he attain the supreme bliss of Nibbhana.
— Mahinda Rajapaksa (@PresRajapaksa) August 24, 2021
Former prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe's statement claimed that Samaraweera "championed reconciliation amongst all our people".
— Ranil Wickremesinghe (@RW_UNP) August 24, 2021
The Rajapaksa's Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) similarly mourned his "untimely demise" and hailed his "unique legacy".
We are profoundly saddened by the news of the passing of Hon. Mangala Samaraweera. He leaves behind a unique legacy of politics that he sincerely believed in. This is a great loss for Sri Lankan politics, and we mourn his untimely demise along with the rest of the nation.
— SLPP (@PodujanaParty) August 24, 2021
Sri Lanka's former president Chandrika Kumaratunga called Samaraweera her "comrade-in-arms", adding that "the battle we fought side by side, will live forever". "You hugely progressed our International Relations from the dismal pit it had descended into and took Sri Lanka to the world stage, making us once again a proud and strong Nation," she continued. "Come back in your journey in Samsara, to join the battle for a better and decent Sri Lanka, before you attain Nirvana."
Former Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena tweeted:
Deeply saddened to hear the loss of Former Minister Mangala Samaraweera who was a humble human being and strong advocate for democracy and reconciliation. My prayers and thoughts are with his family and friends grieving this loss. pic.twitter.com/QIHQZY5Fc4
— Maithripala Sirisena (@MaithripalaS) August 24, 2021
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa also stated:
Dear Mangala Samaraweera, you were a man of the age who respected humanity and was committed to the vision you believed in according to your conscience. May you attain Nibbana!
— Sajith Premadasa (@sajithpremadasa) August 24, 2021
Sri Lanka’s Health Minister, Keheliya Rambukwella similarly stated on Twitter:
In yet another tragic outcome of the #COVID19SL pandemic, my colleague Mangala Samaraweera has passed away. It is the loss of another great leader, a true political maverick. We may not have agreed on policy, but he always had my respect. #RIP
— Keheliya Rambukwella (@Keheliya_R) August 24, 2021
Tamil National Alliance
Responding to his death, the Tamil National Alliance party released the following statement:
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R Sampanthan also released a separate statement describing Samaraweera as a "dear friend".
Samaraweera had his start in politics as the Sri Lanka Freedom Party's chief organiser for Matara in 1983 and Assistant Secretary of the SLFP Coordinating Secretary of the Mother’s Front.
As a leading member of the SLFP, Samaraweera was instrumental in the elections and ruling campaigns on Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa, who he served as campaign manager for. He then rose to the post of Rajapaksa’s foreign secretary as the Sri Lankan military began a massive military offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamils. However, after relations between the two soured, Samaraweera was sacked from his post and subsequently defected to the United National Party (UNP).
He served as Foreign Minister again under the Sirisena administration from 2015-2017 and as Finance Minister from 2017 to 2019.