Black July 1983: the Charge is Genocide
The Sri Lanka security forces either looked
the other way
or actively participated in the attack...
The Sri Lanka police and the armed forces either looked the other
way or actively participated in the attack.
''...Police units were not sent in until well after the
rioting began and made few immediate attempts to check the mass
arson and looting that spread through the city. At twilight ...
bands still roamed the city and fires were still being started''
(Guardian, 26 July 1983)
"..Throughout the early hours of the violence, it was clear
that neither police nor defence forces had been given orders to
re-establish control. My friends reported how police and troops
could be seen on street corners watching the lawlessness spread. At
one point several army vehicles drove through the city, packed with
troops who shouted encouragement to the rioters..." (London Daily
Telegraph, 26 July 1983)
"..The news from Sri Lanka this week has recalled the
horrifying events leading up to the division of India
thirty-six years ago. The Hindu-Muslim- Sikh massacres of that
time are reflected in the bloodshed, arson, looting that has
sent thousands of innocent Tamils running for safety wherever
they can find it. They are, it must be emphasized, a
minority community whose status as citizens of Sri Lanka should
be unquestionable. Unhappily, ever since Sri Lanka became
independent in 1948, the current of Sinhalese nationalism has
turned with envious anger on this community that played a part
in Sri Lanka's political and professional life under British
rule out of proportion to its numbers. The most recent events
have revealed a culpable bias on the part of the forces of
Early reports of rioting in Colombo before censorship was
imposed agreed that the police were slow to intervene.
Reports of action by naval units in Trincomalee and some recent
army actions have suggested that reprisals were their aim, more
likely to stimulate than to pacify. Worse than this, evidence
of official Sinhalese hostility to the Tamils has been the
government's failure to respond to the palpable tension aroused
two months ago when municipal and parlimentary by elections
were held. The campaign was said to be more like civil war than
an election." (The London Times Editorial 27 July 1983)
''Businessmen, civil servants and ordinary people have gone
through race riots before: but last July's killings and lootings
were so premeditated, with the military and police playing an active
role, that nothing can allay their fears...The rank culpability of
troops and jail authorities rather than of the familiar anti social
gangs has given an eerie touch to the carnage'' (Times of India,
31 July 1983)
'' Mr. Pat O'Leary from Killarney, who had been working for
five weeks in Colombo for the Port Authority said: 'I watched
a group of Sinhalese people chasing a group of three Tamils.
They caught one, beat him up, threw him to the ground and stoned
him. I don't know if he died. It was terrible. Nobody did a
thing to help. Even the police turned a blind eye.'''
(London Times, 2 August 1983)
''Army personnel actively encouraged arson and looting of
business establishments and homes in Colombo and absolutely no
action was taken to apprehend or prevent criminal elements involved
in these activities. In many instances army personnel
participated in the looting of shops.'' (London Times, 5 August
"..But for days the soldiers and policemen were not
overwhelmed: they were unengaged or, in some cases, apparently
abetting the attackers. Numerous eye witnesses attest that
soldiers and policemen stood by while Colombo burned.Were
they following their own communal instincts or signals from
above?" (London Economist, 6 August 1983)
''As the town (Nuwara Eliya) burnt to charcoal and the Tamil
inhabitants ran for their lives, I watched Sri Lanka soldiers on
the spot stand idly by... The soldiers on the street seemed
quite willing to stand and look on...'' (Peter Hartnell, New
Statesman, 12 August 1983)
"..in the present violence, the army, police and gangs of
thugs acted in conjunction... Some of us saw truck loads of
soldiers cheering on the arsonists bands..." (New
Statesman, 26 August 1983)
"..The police force 95% Sinhalese did nothing to stop the mobs.
There was no mercy. Women, children and old people were slaughtered.
Police and soldiers did nothing to stop the genocide.."
(London Daily Express, 29 August 1983)