Message from National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, NAFSO, Sri Lanka.
People come and Go. This is the natural phenomena. However, depart of the people who inspired thousands of people in the own community, within the nation and also internationally are not so easy to bear. Fr. Thomas Kocherry is such a person who inspired millions of fisher people all over the world through his commitments, sacrifices, intellectual capacities and political activism.
Thomas Kocherry, was well known as beloved “Tom” among colleagues was instrumental to the formation of many social movements in the world. He was the backbone and brain to bring both World Forum of Fish Workers and Fish Harvesters [WFF] and World Forum of Fisher Peoples [WFFP] in to the main stream political arena of development. Tom did not compromise his principles and always took strong stand in favor of the marginalized, oppressed and poor in the world.
He had critiques at any time once WFFP attempted to please the authorities while compromising the fisher people’s rights. Tom did not afraid and never hesitated to surface his ideologies, difference of opinions based on his principles while he understands he will be the minority among all others.
Even Tom’s opponents understood and respected when he took firm stand and rigid actions even though they are not accepted by the majority. So, he was not popular among many circles and attempted to label him as extremist. But, eventually it proved Tom’s thinking was correct and appropriate at many occasions.
As NAFSO, in Sri Lanka we benefitted from Tom’s strong mediations to get release Sri Lankan fishermen when they were arrested and kept in India in many places. Tom’s strong mobilization skills helped us to bring Sri Lankan fishermen back home and make the families released from the tensions. Thank you Tom for your mediation, we were able to form strong women wing of NAFSO with your interventions.
Tom was with us as a commissioner during the People’s Planning Commission, organized by Sri Lankan civil society organizations to find alternative approach for the post tsunami development process. Also, at the 4th General Assembly of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples’ [WFFP] when we held it in Sri Lanka, in 2008. He was the major force behind the Coordination Committee of the WFFP. We won’t get Tom’s sharp political analysis and effective actions based on his commitment.
Tom is no more with us. He departed leaving us behind. We lost real father in the WFFP family, mentor, visionary and strategist in our social movement. This is a great loss for us as WFFP. And, also his depart had created a big vacuum for NAFSO, our own organization. Many fisher leaders from all over the world share the similar concerns as we saw number of letters exchanged. I never think, there is any other leader who was respected and loved like Tom.
Tom, it is hard to say Good Bye to you.
But, the time has come to Say Good Bye. But, the memories of your strong personality will remain in our memories for ever. At the same time, we assure we will carry your flag on your hand and the cross on your shoulder will carry up to the Goal where, poor and marginalized will live in peace, harmony and as prosperous community.
Laal Salaam Tom! We all in the fishing communities Love you.!
Convener- National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, [NAFSO]
4th May 2014