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Thousands pay their respects to Col. Parithi


 Updated 16:39 GMT 25 Nov 2012 with new photographs

Thousands of Tamils across France, Europe and the world gathered in Paris on Saturday to pay their respects to the murdered French diaspora leader - Mathinthiran Nadarajah, or Col. Parithi.

In what was a powerfully moving act of communal grief, the sheer numbers of those present was overwhelming.

As the proceedings began, on Saturday morning, mourners stood in silent respect, as Col. Parithi's parents lit the lamp of sacrifice, and a band of marching Tamil girls and boys led the way for Col. Parithi's body which was carried in by coffin-bearers in a glass topped wooden coffin.

Under a starry canopy, and the flag of Tamil Eelam flying respectfully at half mast, Col. Parithi's grieving wife, Anusha, and young daughter Sarah, lay a floral tribute by his coffin, which was draped with the Eelam flag.

Parents of Col. Parithi

In what was truly a ceaseless influx of mourners from morning till the late afternoon, Tamils young and old alike came forward and honoured his coffin with kaathikai flowers (Gloriosa lilies). 

By midday, Col. Parithi's coffin was overspilling in red and yellow kaathikai flowers, and flanked by a sea of wreaths, bouquets and floral tribute messages brought by Tamil organisations across the world. 

As the leader of the French Tamil Coordinating Committee (TCC-France),  Col. Parithi was held as an inspiration and guiding light by French Tamils, as well as members of counterpart organisations worldwide. Representatives and members travelled from across the world to pay their respects, and support TCC-France in Saturday's proceedings. 

 Representatives addressed mourners through out the course of the day, and sharing their memories of his bravery and courage, as well as his compassion and humble nature. The organisations included: TCC Australia, Belgium Cultural Committee, World Tamil Movement Canada, TCC Denmark, TCC Finland, TCC Italy, TCC Netherlands, TCC New Zealand, TCC Norway, TCC Sweden, TCC Switzerland, TCC UK and the Tamil Youth Organisation. 

Speaking on behalf of TCC-France, Mr Sathiyadasan detailed Col. Parithi's exemplary , and principled character, reflecting warmly on his ability to show respect towards people of all ages. Col. Parithi had always stressed the need to continue the political struggle, but never lose sight of the Tamils in the homeland, said Mr Sathiyadasan. "We must make the world know about the genocide that took place in the North-East he would say", Mr Sathiyadasan added.

Joining other speakers and mourners, Mr Sathiyadasan, called on the French police to ensure justice is delivered.

"The French police must bring those responsible to justice. This must be done. If that does not happen, then the very reason for us

[Eelam Tamils] coming here - to live here peacefully, without fear, and in safety - is lost."

Speaking on behalf of the Tamil Youth Organisation worldwide, Banuja Mageswaran spoke fondly of a man that she said was seen by the youth as not just a leader, or an elder brother, but a comrade and a friend. "He will never leave our thoughts", she vowed as she reiterated the demand for justice.

In a moving eulogy to her father, Sarah Mathinthiran wrote:

"Know papa, that we are all proud of you. Your absence has knocked all of us. But we have hope that justice will be served and that your battle for the Tamil nation will find a happy ending."

By late afternoon, as his friends and family paid their final respects, mourners stood once again in silent respect as the flag that had adorned his coffin was ceremonially given to his family, and the Eelam flag lowered.

The band of marching boys and girls once again led the funeral procession down the red carpet, which was flanked by members of the TYO down either side. As mourners bowed their heads in respect, the coffin passed through the hall, followed by his wife, daughter and parents, before members of TCC-France, and respresentatives of all counterpart organisations behind.

His body was driven away accompanied by his close family, and guarded by a heavy police escort.

Col. Parithi will be laid to rest on Monday, alongside Kandiah Gajendran and Kandiah Perinpanathan, who were assassinated in 1996.

He was shot dead on Thursday the 8th of November. At least two have been arrested by French police in connection with his murder.

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