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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

Henchmen of senior Ministers, Members of Parliament
and office bearers of the trade union of the ruling Party,
were seen leading the attack on the streets...

But whilst the government remained silent, the henchmen of senior Ministers, and some of the government Members of Parliament and the office bearers of the trade union of the ruling Party, were seen leading the attack on the streets.

''Sources say that Industries Minister (Cyril) Mathew, who also controls the powerful labour union, Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya, was directly responsible for pinpointing Tamil owned shops and factories to be destroyed. In (the Sri Lanka) Parliament on August 4... Mathew defended the violence by saying: 'The Sinhala people were frustrated for years, they were discriminated (against). If the Sinhala is the majority race, why can't they be the majority?''' (India Today, 31 August 1983)

''In Mount Lavinia, a suburb of Colombo, thugs were led by (a) UNP Councillor... In the Maradana area of Colombo, thugs brought in from upto 100 miles away and loyal to Prime Minister R. Premadasa.... and Industries Minister Cyril Mathew were identified by eye witnesses.'' (New Statesman, 28 August 1983)

'It was alleged by very many people, some eye witnesses and some repeating information which they believed to be firmly authenticated, that persons known to be active supporters of the U.N.P. (the United National Party which won the 1977 elections and had been in power ever since) were on many occasions leaders in the gangs perpetrating violence.'' (Patricia Hyndman, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of New South Wales and Secretary, Lawasia Human Rights Standing Committee Report -Democracy in Peril, June 1985)

''...There is enough circumstantial evidence to support this charge (that attacks had been engineered by the state authorities). Take the blood curdling massacres in jail. It is difficult to believe that Sinhalese prisoners are capable of over powering the security guards in the Welikade prison that is supposed to have 'maximum security'. It is not merely Tamil prisoners who were killed but also those Tamils who were arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism law... Kuttimuni, Jegan and several other 'Tigers' lost their lives as did office bearers of the Ghandiyam movement whom the state authorities suspected to be in league with the Liberation Tigers.

In the first prison massacre, 35 prisoners were butchered. Should not the authorities have promptly evacuated the rest of the Tamil prisoners in the same prison as common sense would have told them that they too would have been vulnerable to attacks? The authorities chose to drag their feet and the result was that 17 more were slaughtered... in several instances, government machinery was used to wreak havoc. For example, government vehicles were used by the mobs to go on a rampage; army trucks were allegedly used to transport looted goods. One eye witness account also serves to substantiate government involvement. Sarathas is a big shop catering to Indian tourists. The owner suspecting trouble, protected his shop frontage with a thick iron shutter. According to the eye witness a heavy truck of the Government Electricity Board was used to smash the shop. And when that had been accomplished, there were loud shouts of 'Jayawewa' - a victory shout in Sinhalese.'' (Anita Pratap in Sunday, 14-20 August 1983)

''It is worth noting that most of the petrol that was used to burn shops, homes and vehicles was kept ready in white cans at the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, which comes under the jurisdiction of Industries Minister, Cyril Mathew.'' (N.Shanmugathasan,Sri Lanka: Racism and the Authoritarian State - Race and Class, Volume XXVI, A.Sivanandan and Hazel Waters, Institute of Race Relations, London)

''This researcher tried hard to trace some member or active supporter of some party other than the UNP who might have had some hand in the spread of violence in Badulla, but failed. All those on whom accusing fingers were pointed turned out to be UNP supporters without exception.'' (Sri Lanka: July 1983 Violence against 'Indian Tamils' - Edited by S.Sivanayagam, Tamil Information Centre, Madras)

''...Most of those who witnessed the scenes of looting and arson recognised the gangs as being UNP elements with particular allegiance to two prominent cabinet ministers - one of whom had been revealed as the force behind the communal violence that took place a month previously at the eastern sea port of Trincomalee. The employees of certain corporations under ministers and the members of the pro UNP trade union of which one minister is President seem to have played a major role in these riots. It is also significant that a violently anti-Tamil book in Sinhala, entitled 'Protect the Buddhist Religion' by Minister Cyril Matthew, had been circulating for some time. It was distributed free of cost.'' (Eye witness account, Sri Lanka: Racism and the Authoritarian State - Race and Class, Volume XXVI, A.Sivanandan and Hazel Waters, Institute of Race Relations)




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