Former Daily News journalist Pearl Ashokamala Thevanayagam passed
away in the UK on December 23, 2015. She was 61-years-old. Her funeral
will be held on January 13, 2016 with a Mass at Our Lady of Visitation,
Middlesex, at 10.00 a.m., followed by internment at Greenford Park
Cemetery, Windmill Lane, Greenford, Middlesex.
A free-thinking senior journalist, Pearl was the co-founder of Exile
Journalist in the UK and contributed to several newspapers and websites,
often expressing radical views on critical issues, especially human
"I am Tamil. I became a Tamil after becoming a human. So, humanity is
more sacred to me than race," she often told her friends as an
explanation for why she wrote what she wrote.
Daughter of the late Bastiampillai Anthonypillai Thevanayagam and the
late Regina Poomani Thevanayagam, Pearl was one of seven children and
lived a quiet life in Middlesex, far removed from journalism. Not
wanting to be a burden on her family, she made a living selling fruits
at the local market and home cooked food for labourers and wrote for the
love of writing when she had the time.
In 1976, aged 21, Pearl went to England to study English literature.
She returned home in 1982 after the death of her father and embarked on
a successful career in war reporting.
In 2001, she was forced to claim political asylum in the UK, after
the high profile deaths of a number of journalists in Sri Lanka.
Born in Batticaloa, she was, however, brought up in Jaffna, as the
family moved to the North when she was an infant. Pearl was raised in a
Christian household, influenced by her parents' interests in politics
The family later relocated to Colombo, but were forced back to Jaffna
on a refugee ship after the 1983 riots.
As a journalist she worked for the Daily News and the Sunday Leader,
and wrote exposés about the deaths of Tamil civilians during the war.
Having received threats for her investigative style of reporting, Pearl
left journalism for a brief period to take up organic farming in
Her return to journalism was brief, as she was forced to leave under
continued censorship and safety concerns.
She claimed political asylum in the UK in 2001 and later went on to
co-found the Exiled Journalists Network, an organisation to help
journalists from war-torn regions settle in the UK.