Racial abuse causes Lankan teen's life in Netherlands

12 January 2017 08:17 pm - 14     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Netherlands Police have arranged extra protection for the Grotius College and its school grounds in Heerlen after a Sri Lankan-born student committed suicide because of alleged attempts of bullying and harassment, NL Times reported on Thursday.

The College's director, teachers and students had received threats in response to the suicide of the 15-year-old Sri Lankan student Tharukshan Selvam on Sunday, AD reports.
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According to NL Times, Tharukshan died during the early hours of Sunday morning.

His family published his suicide note, in which he described how he was being bullied at school. He was also being harassed by anonymous social media accounts, believed to be the work of his class mates.

The Sri Lankan' teen's story provoked numerous threats and death treats addressed to the director of Grotius College, several teachers and students.

The condolence register the school opened on Wednesday was flooded with responses from across the country. "You should be deeply ashamed, students and school", "Bullies of Tharukshan: you should be deeply ashamed", "How could this happen?" and "This could have been avoided", were just some of the responses.

Frank Schings, director of school organization LVO Parkstad, under which Grotius College falls, announced that the circumstances of the boy's suicide will be investigated.

Later on Wednesday the school leaders announced in a press conference that they have asked the Inspectorates for both Education and Youth Care to investigate what happened, according to NU.nl. Heerlen Mayor Ralf Krewinkel will also investigate.

The Mayor's investigation will also look into the role of youth care and other health institutions in what happened to Tharukshan.

It is known that both school and municipality had contact with the Selvam family. According to Schings at the press conference, a municipal expertise center first spoke to Tharukshan on December 5th due to the bullying. After that the 15-year-old boy spoke to aid workers on December 28th.

Minister Jet Bussemaker of Education responded to Tharukshan's suicide on television program Jinek on Wednesday evening. She called the death of the Sri Lankan boy "heartbreaking" and called on everyone not to turn a blind eye to bullying. "Do not look away from abuses. If you notice something in your surroundings, report it, discuss it", she said. "And if you can't do so yourself, make sure that experts are involved."

Education State Secretary Sander Dekker also responded to the boy's death. "Heartbreaking. There is no other word for the suicide of 15-year-old Tharukshan from Heerlen." he wrote on his Facebook page.

According to Dekker, Tharukshan's death is reminiscent of the deaths of 20-year-old Tim Ribberink and 15-year-old Fleur Bloemen, who both committed suicide in 2012 after continuing bullying. "It shows again that the consequences of bullying can be enormous. We must always remain vigilant that it does not rear its ugly head. And we must continue to emphasize that bullying is unacceptable."

Tharukshan's family describes him as a cheerful boy who always put on a brave face for the outside world, his brother in law Mayruam Sellathurai said to De Limburger, speaking on behalf of the family. At home Tharukshan liked to listen to music, talk with his family members and play some cards. The night of his death they also played cards before going to bed. "I noticed nothing wrong with him. In fact, he was cheerful", Sellathurai said. A few hours later, Tharukshan's family found him dead in his bedroom.

The Sri Lankan family arrived in the Netherlands about six years ago. They fled Sri Lanka because of the conflict at the time, but also because the children had a better future in the Netherlands, Sellathurai said. Tharukshan went to primary school in Heerlen and quickly adjusted to life in his new home. He got good grades and made friends.

Neighborhood friend Santana, 13, confirmed this picture to the newspaper. "He came to us in group 4. He was a very nice guy, very friendly, always smiling, polite. He always got good marks, was motivated to work. Often made fun jokes, he was definitely not a quiet guy. He was friends with almost everyone because he was so nice. You just accepted him. At primary school he was not bullied. What happened now, we never expected. I saw him regularly. I ran into him, or we planned something. Also saw him often with my girlfriend. We never noticed that something was not right. He smiled through everything. We are really very shocked."

Tharukshan's family was flooded with reactions over the past days. "We are trying to get his grandmother from Sri Lanka here for a dignified farewell. He never went back to Sri Lanka. He would have gone for the first time this year, go back and visit his family in his native country during his vacation. A trip he will now never make. That hurts. His grandmother has to instead make the trip, with the memories of her grandson. She is devastated. We are too. This should never have happened." Sellathurai said to the newspaper.

  Comments - 14

  • Thinking Thursday, 12 January 2017 10:21 PM

    The scale with which trouble is measured in other countries may differ. But we should never accept troublesome life as the norm.

    Kumar Thursday, 12 January 2017 10:22 PM

    The white racism against the brown and black skin will never go away only the fools think that it doesn't exist.

    Suresh Friday, 13 January 2017 08:09 PM

    Never treated equally. SL is better than foreign countries.

    Lal Friday, 13 January 2017 06:29 AM

    Ceylons comment is stupid. Not every teenager cant cope with mental stress. Mental issues are not accepted in Sri Lankan culture. Some teenagers require psychological help. via DM Android App

    Elieen Friday, 13 January 2017 07:00 AM

    Western govts. talk about unity in diversity. White fellows must ensure that diversity is welcomed into their social fabric. My grand children will be attending school in a European country and I am worried about them.

    S B Lokuge Friday, 13 January 2017 07:22 AM

    Tamils who want Eelam and left Sri Lanka claiming asylum must think again. Are they treated equally in other countries?

    izzy Friday, 13 January 2017 08:31 AM

    Without exactly knowing what the situation was and what he was going through, should not jump into conclusions. Its easy to judge, but everyone has their own battles and struggles in life.

    Silva Friday, 13 January 2017 08:35 AM

    For Ceylon it's true. That we must be ready to go through anything to have what we want. But it is not normal elsewhere. We are suffering because we are accepting it as our fate. We are not bothered to ask why it is like that.

    pubudi Friday, 13 January 2017 08:54 AM

    White supremacy prevails both in their countries and in our country where the western embassy staff take the upper hand when it comes to their staff with lots of discrimination and favourism.

    Banda Friday, 13 January 2017 09:04 AM

    Can color of skin decide who is superior or inferior. What is the cast or creed of the bully's.

    Chanakya The Guru of Solution Friday, 27 January 2017 04:18 PM

    To Ceylon: You are the problem maker and you are teaching all to learn to face life and the problems created by you. Ridiculous. This incident is a clear cut symptom of superficially advanced and sick society which is based on a actually a rotten mentality inside.

    SS Friday, 13 January 2017 09:27 AM

    Psychological effects of bullying is rarely addressed in Sri Lanka, especially since it is not openly spoken about. Agreeing with the previous statement I believe people are fools to think that the effects of racism don't exist and that it is part of life.

    Karu Friday, 13 January 2017 03:31 PM

    6 years back, there was no conflict in the country for them to seek asylum in a foreign country. Poor guy.

    ceylon Thursday, 12 January 2017 09:37 PM

    this student is unfortunately a stupid guy.every person must learn how to go through the life with all kind of dificulties.compare to how difficult life has othershis problems are nothing. via DM Android App


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