This is a brief, but poignant piece on the slaying of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, which only appears online in the New Yorker. Like other Sri Lankans, I’m outraged at this killing. Kadirgamar was a distinguished lawyer. I stayed with the Kadirgamar family when I worked in Sri Lanka in 1996. Like his brother, Sam, Lakshman Kadirgamar was a “Queen’s Counsel.” The Kadirgamar book collection is now housed in the Law and Society on Kynsey Terrace. (They also have a little-known family museum on Queens’ Road).
The Kadirgamars were barristers. They practiced law upholding all that is good and noble about the legal profession (ignoring the imperfections and many bad things associated with it). I remember a speech by Kadirgamar in February 1996 to the Sri Lanka Bar Association. He said: “I feel welcome and I’m at home in the bar. I’ve left our profession for a life full of problems and difficulties.” I can’t help thinking today, as I did when I heard that speech, that there was a strange element of premonition in it. Yet, Kadirgamar persevered.