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March 2004

In memory of Sydo

An Aurovilian was murdered in his house on January 31st, 2004


SydoSytze Douwe van Loo, known in Auroville as Sydo, joined Auroville in August, 1996 at the age of 33. He was one of those regular ‘greenbelt guys', easy-going, tundu round his head, always on his bike. He worked hard on the environment and with his jokes, clowning and good-natured, somewhat anarchic take on life, he was much loved, particularly by the children.

On the morning of Sunday, February 1st, Sydo was found dead in a pool of blood in his house. The disbelief and grief in the community was overwhelming as people tried to come to terms with this indescribable loss and the realization that one of us had been killed, for reasons as yet unknown.

Matrimandir, the schools, most workshops and all non-essential services closed for a three day period of mourning. There was a collective meditation under the Banyan, large community meetings as well as dialogues with village elders. There was also a very moving ‘open mike' evening at the Visitors Centre during which friends celebrated the Sydo they had known.

Sydo's body was cremated in Adventure and a friend took the ashes to Sydo's family in Holland . The family sent a wonderful letter in which they expressed their gratitude that Sydo was in the loving care of the community and praying that the memory of Sydo as a ‘loving, creative and funny marvel' would live on.

On Sunday 7th, in the light of Sydo's death and a deteriorating law and order situation in the surrounding area, over a thousand Aurovilians and villagers made a quiet Unity Walk through the villages of Kottakarai, Edayanchavadi and Kuilapalayam, ending up at Sydo's house in Udumbu where masses of flowers and tributes were laid.

Subsequently there have been meetings with senior police officers and the Dutch Ambassador has visited the community.

Now begins the work of understanding, introspection, even while urgent measures are being taken on the external plane to improve security – a Security Task Force has been set up – and ensure that the guilty are brought to justice. If, as many feel, Sydo's death is a wake-up call, a catalyst which is forcing us to look more closely at the way we are living in relationship to the ideals and to radically change our relationship with each other and the villagers, it may not have been in vain.

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