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 

Home Whats New  Trans State Nation  One World Unfolding Consciousness Comments Search
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

 Attack was renewed with vigour after President Jayawardene spoke...

Black July 1983It was unsurprising therefore that on the following day, the onslaught on the Tamils was renewed with increased vigour.

''President Jayawardene's remarks that the violence of the past four days had been an expected reaction.. seemed to encourage a fresh wave of violence in Colombo and its suburbs on Friday (29 July). (London Observer, 31 July 1983)

''On July 28th, Mr.Jayawardene spoke on TV to denounce separatism and proscribe any party that endorsed it... Not a syllable of sympathy for the Tamil people or any explicit rejection of the spirit of vengeance.. Next day, Colombo was a battlefield. More than 100 people are estimated to have been killed on that Friday alone, and 30,000 Tamils fled to refugee camps.'' (Economist, 6 August 1983)

''On July 28, President Jayawardene finally spoke to the nation in a speech notable for its failure to chastise the Sinhalese mobs or express sympathy for the tens of thousands of victims... I witnessed the effect of this speech the next day on my way to the airport; the situation which had begun to calm down the day before, had deteriorated again... buildings burned and panicky motorists tried to avoid gangs of thugs who stopped outbound traffic in search of escaping Tamils. Vehicles that would not stop were attacked.'' (Carlton L.Ames in the International Herald Tribune, September 20 1983)

On the morning of 29 July, a rumour swept the city of Colombo: the Tamil Tigers had arrived in Colombo Fort. Who started the rumour? Reuter representative in Colombo sent a dispatch datelined 29 July which said:

"Panic swept through Colombo today and thousands of office workers rushed home early after reports that the Sri Lanka capital...had been infiltrated by guerillas. Government spokesman, Douglas Liyanage, confirmed to reporters that 12 men suspected of belonging to a guerilla movement had been arrested and taken to a police station in the centre of the city. There was no confirmation of rumours that the 12 had been sniping at troops from buildings."

Mr. Liyanage was the Secretary to the Ministry of Information headed by Minister Ananda Tissa de Alwis. But his own Minister later denied that there were any suspected Tamil guerrillas in Colombo on that day. He denied that any arrests were made. He said that some shots had been fired in the city and some foolish people had thought that the "Tigers" had come. It was all a grim joke. He said:

"Some people from a roof, some Sinhalese people, threw some explosive at our troops. Our troops fired back and these people on the roof, some of them died. That is how the rumour began..." (Ananda Tissa de Alwis: Televised speech on 30 July 1983)

But who were these alleged 'Sinhalese people' on the roof? The government offered no explanation and held no inquiry. However, the rumour served to set the frame for the attack that followed. On 29 July, hundreds of goondas transported in government owned vehicles from outside Colombo, renewed the attack on the Tamils in Colombo. Several Tamils were dragged out of their cars and killed on the main roads of Colombo and in broad daylight.

''The violence on Friday July 29th was of horrifying proportions and I heard eye witness accounts of terrible atrocities. Cars were stopped.. and if Tamils were in the cars, they were burned inside them, petrol was poured over people and they were set alight, people were also burned in their houses and were hacked to death.'' (Patricia Hyndman, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of New South Wales and Secretary, Lawasia Human Rights Standing Committee Report -Democracy in Peril, June 1985)

''In Colombo nine Tamils were burnt to death yesterday at the main railway station in front of European tourists while plans were being discussed to ship thousands of Tamil refugees out of the capital by sea..'' (Guardian, 29 July 1983)

The government sought to make out that like the "spontaneous riot" in the prison, this was yet another "spontaneous riot", but this time on the streets of Colombo, following a convenient 'rumour'. A 'riot' carried out by imported goondas following a rumour bearing the stamp of Douglas Liyanage and which his Minister sought to make out had something to do with Sinhalese on roof tops who had decided to throw a couple of explosives at the Sri Lankan army - presumably Sinhala leftists on roof tops who worked together with Sinhala goondas travelling in government owned vehicles at ground level. It was not a day that the Tamils who were in Colombo, and who survived, were likely to forget.

On the same day, Cabinet Minister Gamini Dissanayake arrived in Nuwara Eliya by helicopter.

'' (On 29 July), Nuwara Eliya was closely guarded by the army. All vehicles were checked. Bus conductors had orders not to transport Tamils. Minister Gamini Dissanayake came from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya to hold a meeting with party members.... Soon after the end of Gamini Dissanayake's party meeting they (some well known rowdies who had been arrested the previous day) were released. These people went out immediately, well equiped with petrol, iron rods and other kinds of weapons and tried to attack two Tamil priests in town. They managed to escape. Without having succeeded they moved on.

Another mob joined up with the first one. They laid a ring of petrol around a Tamil shop which was then burnt. They were supported in this by the army who supplied them with gallons of petrol. During the day all the Tamil owned shops were burnt... Tamil people who walked the streets were beaten by soldiers. The fire brigade which stood waiting was hindered by the army and the Sinhalese mob in doing its job... Shops which had not been burnt by the mob were set fire to by the army. Around noon, Nuwara Eliya was like a sea of flames.'' (Sri Lanka - Paradise in Ruins, Sri Lanka Coordination Centre, Kassel, 1983)




Mail Us Copyright 1998/2009 All Rights Reserved Home