Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home >  Tamils - a Trans State Nation  > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Indictment against Sri Lanka > Black July 1983: the Charge is Genocide - Preface, Prologue & Index > Black July 1983 - The Record Speaks


Black July 1983: the Charge is Genocide

More than one hundred thousand Tamils sought refuge in hastily improvised refugee 'camps'...

Eighteen (18) Relief Camps established in Colombo 

(from Relief and Rehabilitation of Displaced Persons, a Publication of the Sri Lanka Government quoted in quoted  in Lawasia Report 'Democracy in Peril - Sri Lanka, a Country in Crisis' by Patricia Hyndman, 7 June 1985)

1. Ratmalana Airport Building
2. Hindu College/Kathiresen Kovil/Pillayar Kovil/Saraswathie Hall, Bambalapitiya
3. Sirima Bandaranaike School, Colombo
4. Thurstan College, Colombo
5. Mahanama Vidyalaya, Colombo
6. St. Peter�s College, Wellawatte
7. St. Benedicts College. Kotahena
8. St. Lucia�s Maha Vidyalaya, Kotahena
9. Sinhala Maha Vidyalaya,  Kotahena
10. Good Shepherd Convent, Kotahena
11. Kotahena Maha Vidyalaya, Kotahena
12. Sivan Kovil Camp
13. Gintupitiya Kovil Camp
14. Anula Vidyalaya. Nugegoda
15. lssipatnana Maha Vidyalaya. Colombo 5
16. Ladies College. Colombo
17. St Thomas Preparatory School, Kollupitiya
18. St. Thomas College, Mt. Lavina

(Outstations Camps were established in Gampaha. Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Kegalle, Kandy, Matale, Badulla, Batticaloa and Trincomalee)

More than one hundred thousand Tamils sought refuge in hastily improvised refugee 'camps'. (see also Eighteen  Relief Camps established in Colombo )

"...Awareness of their insecurity drove many Tamils, especially in the Colombo area, to abandon their homes and shops and seek refuge in temples, airport hangars and improvised camps. Estimates of the numbers made homeless range up to 100,000, many in poorly provisioned 'refugee camps' (where as displaced persons, victims of an internal conflict they lacked the international protection which would be extended by UNHCR)..." (Minority Rights Group Report - Tamils of Sri Lanka, September 1983)

"It is only the yard of a Hindu Temple, outside Colombo, but in this small space 5,000 people are trying to stay alive. Two things unite them: their racial origin - for they are Tamils - and their fear. During the nights and days of Sinhalese violence last week, the people now in the camp watched their homes and businesses burn, their property ransacked, their belongings scattered... A woman in her late thirties told me: "We saw them come to the front of our house. They were waving sticks and swords. We just ran out and over the back fence." Some of the refugees wear bandages and plasters. 'We were beaten' they say simply. ... A Red Cross worker explained: 'He went to the hospital and they did this to him there.' (Michael Hamlyn: London Times, 3 August 1983)

''By now (Friday, 29 July), nearly ten refugee camps had been set up in Colombo to house those Tamils who had been rendered homeless. The figures rose from 20,000 to 50,000 within days, and then reached 79,000. Conditions in the camps were horrible, almost primitive. The Ratmalana airport hangar, which was ready to house 800 refugees, accomodated 8,000. According to an inmate, there was hardly standing space. There were over 2000 infants and 500 elderly peole with only one doctor to serve them. Water was scarce and food was inadequate. Similar camps had also been set up in Kandy, Matale, Badulla...'' (Eye witness account, Sri Lanka: Racism and the Authoritarian State - Race and Class, Volume XXVI, A.Sivanandan and Hazel Waters, Institute of Race Relations, London)

''...it is now understood that there are about 78,000 Tamils in at least 12 (refugee) camps. The city has a Tamil population of about 162,000 of whom it is estimated that over 100,000 have been displaced from their homes by the recent violence'' (Guardian, 3 August 1983)

"Conditions in two camps I visited in the Bambalapitiya district of Colombo are appalling. Three thousand Tamils sleeping on the floors of the Hindu temple were sharing six stinking toilets, all without water for washing. There were only two taps working in the camp and Red Cross volunteers complained the water was too dirty today to make milk for the infants. No foreign food supplies had reached the temple since it opened on the 25th of July..." (T.R.Lasner and Agencies in Colombo, London Sunday Observer, 7 August 1983)

''Foreign aid for the relief of Tamils is failing to reach the refugee camps where it was needed. Instead foreign aid and essential medical supplies are being stored in government depots. The government stores are full but the food is not being distributed.'' (London Observer, 7 August 1983)

''Two members of the International Committee of the Red Cross visiting Sri Lanka to arrange aid supplies were effectively expelled from the island yesterday. There was no explanation for the unofficial expulsions, but the two men were believed to have tried, unsuccessfully, to gain access to refugee camps and local prisons.'' (The Guardian, 9 August 1983)

N.Shanmugathasan writing in the London based publication of Institute of Race Relations, 'Race and Class', concluded in moving terms:

"Imagine finding yourself overnight without a roof over your head, all your life's possessions and savings gone up in flames, your wife's thali-kodi and other jewellery stolen, yourself standing with only the clothes you wear and also realising that many of your relations and friends are in the same plight and that in many cases, the sources of employment had disappeared!... They (theTamils) can no longer feel secure in the South." (Sri Lanka: Racism and the Authoritarian State)



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