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We grieve for Roshan Dhunjibhoy

Roshan Dhunjibhoy during a conference in the international office Lahore, Pakistan. Photo: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.

April 28, 2011
Barbara Unmüßig, Britta Petersen, Jost Pachaly
Barbara Unmüßig, Britta Petersen, Jost Pachaly

Unexpected for all of us Roshan Dhunjibhoy passed away on April 24th 2011 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We grieve for an outstanding personality, journalist and former colleague.  Only on March 30th this year she celebrated her 80th birthday: vital, full of life and intellect.

For many years Roshan devoted her life to being an engaged journalist. Her career as a documentary filmmaker and journalist for various German broadcasting stations was exceptional. In the 1960’s Roshan Dhunjibhoy was the Indian face in German TV. She was a pioneer and role model for many young women in Germany. Her appearances in Werner Höfers “Internationaler Frühschoppen“ are legend.

She was a fascinating political personality – like hardly any other woman she was able to introduce political, cultural and religious interests and views of the Third World into German and international debates. She was a cosmopolitan – born and raised in South Asia, educated in the US and France, she lived and worked in Germany. As a journalist, documentary filmmaker and office director of Heinrich Böll Stiftung, she traveled more than 50 countries.

It meant enrichment and honor for the newly founded Heinrich Böll Stiftung in Cologne that Roshan decided to actively support the set-up of the foundation – in the beginning voluntarily and then full- time. In 1993 she returned to her South Asian roots and established the first office of the foundation abroad in Lahore, Pakistan with all her passion and professionalism. She laid the foundation for the South Asian and Southeast Asian activities of the young Heinrich Böll Stiftung and headed the office until her retirement in 2001.

Politically she focused on social and international justice. Her thinking and engagement were always guided by fighting injustice and arbitrariness. She was especially concerned about the protection and preservation of cultural and religious diversity. This year in March she actively participated in the conference “Gender, Religion and Politics”, organized by Heinrich Böll Stiftung in Lahore. She was widely respected and esteemed by Muslims, Buddhists and Christians alike. Roshan – a Buddhist herself – was an exceptional mediator between different cultures and religions. We will very much miss her in this regard. After her retirement she moved to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. She dedicated her time there to animal protection and founded a new animal protection organization.

Whatever she did – her documentaries for the “Weltspiegel”, her work as a journalist teacher in Jamaica, her appearances in the “Internationaler Frühschoppen“ and her engagement as Director of Heinrich Böll Stiftung – she did it with passion, tolerance, humor and wit. This is what she was loved, esteemed and respected for.
Roshan Dhunjibhoy’s family - who has our heartfelt sympathy - suffers a big loss. Roshan will also be missed deeply by us and her numerous friends all over the world.

The Heinrich Böll Stiftung will miss her as a political discussion partner, role model, guide and friend.
We honor Roshan with deep gratitude and love.