23 September, 2018

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Professor Shahul H. Hasbullah (3 September 1950 – 25 August 2018)

Born in Erukkulampiddy, Mannar, Prof. Shahul H. Hasbullah has been tireless in documenting the sufferings and the loss of the evicted of October 1990 from the Northern Province and has repeatedly called for reconciliation between all three communities. A geographer, his work on land, and the north and the east is path breaking, and thrown fresh light on old issues.

Prof. Shahul Hasbullah

He was Professor of Geography at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. He graduated from the same university and obtained his M.A and Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia, Canada. He was actively engaged in teaching, research and writing in the areas of demography, employment, and migration. His research specialized in human and population geography and migration; refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), as well as land disputed and resolution mechanisms. He has authored/edited several research works, including ‘Checkpoint, Temple, Church and Mosque’ (2015) written together with four other academics, ‘Denying the Right to Return: Resettlement in Musali South and the Wilpattu Controversy’ (2015), and ‘Social Mobilisation of Livelihood Concerns and Everyday Encounters with an Ambiguous State’ (co-authored with Urs Geiser and to be published by ICES, Colombo).

He has served as a visiting scholar at a number of international universities including University of Zurich (Switzerland), University of Edinburgh (UK) and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norway). In 2004 he was invited as a visiting Professor by his alma mater University of British Columbia, Canada. He was a Fulbright Research Associate at the Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University, Washington D.C.

He participated as a resource person in the Sri Lanka Peace Talks of 2003 during the civil war and served as a member of the Sub-committee on Immediate and Humanitarian Needs of the War-torn Areas of Sri Lanka. Recently, he was appointed as a Council Member of the University of Jaffna by the University Grants Commission. He was also an active member of the Delimitation Commission at the time of his demise.

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Latest comments

  • 15
    1

    Great Community activist who strove tirelessly to achieve justice for the affected people of the North after the War . Terrible loss specially for the Muslim community . May Allah grant him the highest station in paradise.

    • 11
      1

      We are sad to hear of this great personality! A great loss to the country.
      Allah! Let your peace come upon this great personality as you have brought peace to Ibrahim and his family!!!

  • 7
    11

    A great guy, a good friend. It was just a month ago that I went to lunch with him in Jaffna

    He was and perhaps still was at the time of his death on the National Peace Council Board where my eldest daughter Mariyahl Mahilmany was privileged to work with him.

    His estrangement from the Tamil community remains a window to one of the LTTE’s biggest blunders.

    A great loss to humanity, to us and to me.

  • 12
    0

    May Haz attain Nirvana. May he be free from suffering.

    He was a tireless worker for peace and reconciliation, though his family suffered displacement during the war which no doubt took a different sort of toll on him.

  • 10
    0

    Sad news indeed – may he rest in Peace,.

  • 10
    0

    He was a great human being,loved by all who had associated with him.

    it is a irreparable los..

    My condolances

  • 4
    7

    HAbibullan eventhough he hated Sinhala people (because Tamils had to leave Mannar), still he likes only Sri lanka and not India or Saudi arabia or QATAR.

    • 2
      1

      JD

      still he likes only Sri lanka and not India or Saudi arabia or QATAR.
      is a hate language and incitement

      He likes Sri lanka because the majority is Sinhalese so can he hate them.

    • 0
      0

      JD – A man with Prof. Hasbullah’s attitude to others described by several here is unlikely to nurse hatred against any community. Pls, at least, respect the memory of the dead.

      Kettikaran

  • 8
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    He was a friend and a colleague from my Peradeniya days. One who cherished human values, articulated the sufferings of average folk through research, seminars and publications. Unlike many academics these days, he had a mission and related his work and research to achieve it. (I was siting next to him and his daughter at the Faculty of arts annual research sessions at University of Peradeniya a couple of years ago). Will miss him dearly…..

  • 8
    0

    A great loss to humanity, to Sri Lanka, specially to Tamils & Muslims of North-East and to me. An irrecoverable loss. May RIP..

  • 9
    0

    Muslim community lost very big intellectual in this era i feel no body fill his empty all mighty Allah give to him highest place in the jennathul firthouse.

  • 6
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    He is indeed one of humble academics of Sri Lankan Muslim community .
    He spent his entire academic careers in Peradeniya university .
    He is famous for his social works ; he worked hard to build peace in Sri Lanka .
    He won the hearts of all three communities .
    He was shocked and concerned when Muslim community was chased out of North and worked with dedication to help the displaced people .
    He did not go behind politicians .
    When He applied for the post of VC to Souh eastern university;
    We hoped he would get it .
    But politics played a big part to give it to a local man but still he did not worry about it keep doing all his social and academic work .
    May Allah accept him and give him a highest place in paradise

    • 1
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      Lankan: YOu aare lieing as you are also muslim.

  • 5
    0

    A very simple person treated all alike.

  • 9
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    Until the death of Prof. Shahul Hasbullah was announced, most people never knew there was such a scholar ever lived in Sri Lanka, except for those in his circle. With his academic connections to the foreign Universities he could have easily domiciled either in the US or Canada so that the life of himself together with his family would have been much better at least till he died. (Anyhow Allah Almighty decrees ones destiny…inna lillaahi wainna ilaihi rajioon). If Prof Hasbullah had lived in a foreign country CT would have been able to obtain & publish an impressive picture of him, in an Armani or Calvin Klein designer suit. For eg. there is a Mannar born Gynaecologist who got Saudi citizenship is still practicing in Jeddah, must be in his mid-seventies now yet he could be seen at any Lanka festivities at the Jeddah Consulate.

    My point here is Professor Hasbullah is not known to the gen. public during his lifetime, as much as useless fellows like Asath Sally & some corrupt Mullas are in the news.

  • 10
    5

    Mariyahl Mahilmany was with us when she came to organise a NPC meeting with Jehan P in 2016 in North Mannar. She was such a charming lady. She gave us momentos – keyrings with Anton and Edel Balasingham faces. Thanks Mariyah.

    • 3
      7

      Thank you for your kind words, Ilanco. I think though that you might have mixed me up with someone else? (I was working in Jordan in 2016, and also it would have gone against my professional and personal ethos to distribute political mementos at a peacebuilding event.)

      I did have the honour of working with Prof. Hasbullah some years earlier at NPC. I admired him for the strength of his convictions and his willingness to call out injustice, which he paired with the kindness and compassion of his heart. He will be very much missed.

    • 5
      6

      I waited till it was morning in California and checked with my daughter.

      She never ever distributed any LTTE momentos.

      I sternly rebuke CT for allowing any joker to write anything slanderous without checking the email address.to see if it is real.

      I challenge the editor of CT to check the address of whoever put in that comment. On the unlikely event it is real, he should release the name so that CT is not a forum for cowardly slanderers .

      CT should focus on the truth above ratings. The editor should have known this is not possible.

      • 1
        0

        S. R. H. Hoole

        “I sternly rebuke CT for allowing any joker to write anything slanderous without checking the email address.to see if it is real.”

        If jokers could type whatever comes into their head as articles, papers, analyses, ….. the readers also should have the same privilege of typing nonsense.

        As long as CT honours the right of reply of injured person its fine.

    • 4
      4

      Absurd comment, obviously. M&s. Hoo le is too professional for that and has no need to suck up to any one.

      Ilanco’ seems muddle headed for his comment seems meant for another article running now in CT. It’s nature is devious and that it is intended to cause trouble for Ms. Hoo le with both the Sinhalese and Tamils is very obvious. It is dangerous.

      CT should verify the truth of comments written to deliberately to endanger people.

      Judas Iscariot too talked sweet like this so called Ilanco.

  • 14
    0

    Professor Hasbullah retained a sanity and balance that was lacking in the larger Sri Lankan body politic. One would have expected him to have had anti-Tamil sentiments given what had happened to the Mannar Muslims in 1990. He did not have that. He instead epitomized a liberalism that understood different perspectives, including the Tamil. A sober individual, he was able to capture the complexities of the Sri Lankan ground situation in his writings. His demise is a loss to Sri Lanka.

    May he attain Moksha/Jannat-ul-Ferdous.

    • 7
      0

      Tamil Hindu
      I absolutely agree with you. ‘Hus’ belonged to the best tradition of Peradeniya liberal arts education that is fast becoming extinct. Coming from a remote area, he rose by sheer hard work and perseverance aided by his sincere, warm and sunny personality. Because he believed in the essential goodness of human beings, he was always optimistic that, ultimately, fairness will prevail despite all the turmoil. I still remember telling him, sometime in early 1990, that the LTTE was soon likely to kick out all the Muslims from the north. Without any hesitation, he responded simply by saying such a thing would never happen in Sri Lanka. I persisted by explaining that there were several examples in history of such heinous acts by terrorist organizations especially when the war they were involved in reached a critical stage. Then they’d begin to treat people belonging to different ethnicity or religion living within the territory under their control as potential fifth columnists, and eventually expel them. I still remember vividly what Hus then said: “I’m from Erukkulampiddy. We Muslims in the north have lived like brothers with the Tamils for centuries. From my experience, I can say the Jaffna Tamils would never do a thing like that to us.” The next time I met him was a few months after the LTTE had forcibly expelled the entire Muslim population of Jaffna and Mannar, roughly about 100,000, with only a 48 hours notice, with only the clothes they were wearing. One of the most barbaric among the many war crimes committed by the LTTE – a classic case of ethnic cleansing if ever there was one in Sri Lanka’s modern history.
      [Contd.]

    • 7
      0

      Hus told me resignedly that his parents too were affected and they were in a refugee camp in Puttalam. But there was not the slightest hint of bitterness or anger against the Tamils or anybody else. Ever the optimist, he then said quietly, “I’m sure we as Sri Lankans can work something out.” These words have stayed in my memory because they were not the empty words of small talk but came from his heart. Till the very end, he worked tirelessly for the displaced Muslim people and for reconciliation. He firmly believed in a pluralist Sri Lanka. His outlook was never cynical despite all the realpolitik he had to encounter in his work. Hus was a great Muslim, a great scholar, a great liberal, a great Sri Lankan, and a great friend.

  • 3
    0

    I never said Mariyahl Mahilmany is LTTE. She is a charming young lady. We adored her. As usual the old fart Rathna Hoole is jumping up and down for nothing. I did not slander her. Hoole it is you who slandered India by antagonising Dr Balachandran who is our guest from India in Yalpanam.

  • 3
    0

    Mr. Hasbulla was a colleague of mine at Peradeniya Geography Department 1980-84. As well, I had known him as our sub-warden at James Peiris Hall, in my second year of undergraduate study. What struck me most about this affable, humble soul was the amount of respect and affection he received from both students and staff alike. Impartiality, steadfastness, and integrity were guiding principles in his day to day life. A virtue that is in short supply in these troubled times. I can well remember during my 2009 visit to Sri Lanka, Hus driving me around Peradeniya Campus , touching base with old friends, and also calling even my old batchmates on the phone so that I could chat with them. Without a doubt, his greatest contribution was to the Tamil community, those of the Muslim faith in particular. His untiring work for and among the displaced Muslim citizens of the Jaffna Peninsula speaks volumes of this wonderful person. It is very unfortunate that he didn’t live to see the love, trust and reconciliation among all communities in the country that he had always advocated for. You will be sorely missed, my friend. RIP.

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