Black July 1983

Black July Remembrance Vigil will be held in front of 10 Downing Street on Monday 23 July 2012 between 5-8pm. Please gather (clad in black) at a vigil opposite 10 Downing Street on Monday 23rd July 2012 from 5pm to 8pm– Black July Remembrance Vigil will be held in front of 10 Downing Street on Monday 23 July 2012 between 5-8pm. Please gather (clad in black) at a vigil opposite 10 Downing Street on Monday 23rd July 2012 from 5pm to 8pm. –

The month of July brings back vivid memories of death and destruction to many Tamil people who had survived a massacre in a state sponsored pogrom against the Tamil nation by the Sinhala nation in July 1983.  More than 3000 innocent Tamil men women and children were butchered on the streets and in their own homes over a period of 5 days.  The Tamil people remember this event as “Black July 1983”.  This was a turning point in the history of Tamils of the island of Ceylon when a large number of the survivors fled the island fearing for their lives.  The Tamil Nation have been subjected to repeated pogroms unleashed against them by the Sinhala Nation since the island now known as Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain in 1948. In 1958 pogrom 300 people were massacred. in 1961 there were nearly 500 killings and in 1977 more than 1000 people were murdered.  With the advancement in communication technology, the international community was also witness to the carnage in 1983 in which more than 3000 Tamil people were massacred, nearly 100,000 people made homeless and billions worth of their property looted and set ablaze in an orgy of racial attacks on defenceless Tamil people.

The attackers, equipped with voters list went round identifying residences of Tamil people and attacd them in their own homes.  Tamil people who happened to be out and about were stopped on the streets and were hacked to death or doused with petrol and burnt alive.  The scant disregard for the lives of the Tamil people by the Sinhala rulers is reflected in a statement by the then president J R Jeyawadene to a reporter of a London daily when he stated ” “I am not worried about the opinion of the Jaffna (Tamil) people. We cannot think of them, not about their lives or their opinions. The more you put pressure in the north, the happier the Sinhalese people will be. Really if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy.”

In a recent outburst, the Sri Lankan Power and Energy minister Champika Ranawaka said “One Mullivaikkal is enough. Don’t try to get 100 more”  These threatening comments were in response to a speech by the leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), R.Sampanthan. 


“Mullivaikkal” is in reference to the genocidal assault on the Tamil people’s Homeland where more than 40,000 innocent men women and children were massacred by the Sri Lankan state.  There are still 146,679 people unaccounted for since the end of that war in May 2009.  The UN panel of experts reported in March 2011 that there is credible evidence to institute an inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the conduct of the war. The Sri Lankan regime continues to defy calls for an independent inquiry into the conduct of the war in which it had shelled hospitals, the Red Cross ships and its own designated “Safe Zones” targeting Tamil civilians. 

In a recent incident Tamil political prisoners were indiscriminately attacked by the Sri Lankan security forces killing one and injuring many more.  The Sri Lankan regime has refused to release the body of the dead to his parents.

    Murdering Tamil political prisoners is endemic in Sri Lanka.  In July 1983, 53 Tamil political prisoners were hacked to death by Sinhalese inmates aided and abetted by the prison authorities at a high security Welikade prison.  In December 1997 3 Tamil prisoners were murdered in similar manner in Kalutara.  In October 2000, 25 Tamil detainees were hacked to death by a Sinhala mob in Bandarawela.  These are state orchestrated massacres to eliminate those who clamour for Tamil peoples emancipation. Amnesty International and Human rights watch has reported extensivley on disappearances of Tamil detainees from Sri Lankan prisons.  To this day the Sri Lankan regime continues to defy calls to publish a list of those who were taken into custody at the end of the War in May 2009.  More than 18,000 were taken into custody most of those are now feared murdered in custody, hence the regimes refusal to publish a list.        

 To this day no one in the island has been held accountable for these genocidal acts against the Tamil people. The increased frequency and the ferocity of persecution is forcing many Tamils to flee their own land.

The Sri Lankan state has driven out Tamil farmers from their own lands and Tamil fishermen from their coastal villages and settled Sinhalese from the South of the island.  The Tamils people are denied their basic right to life by denying their source of livelihood.  The Tamils are people fleeing the island every day in unseaworthy vessels to far away places to save their lives from the “white van” death squads of the Sinhala state.  The Tamil people’s homeland in the North and East of the island is highly militarised at a ratio of 1:5.  The military is made up entirely of Sinhalese who hate Tamils.  Rape, abduction and murder committed by the occupying forces are common place in the Tamil areas.

The Sri Lankan regime is executing a massive programme of land grab in which lands belonging to the Tamil people are taken away forcefully to alter the demography of the Tamil home land.  A sustained programme of ethnic cleansing is being carried out in the island with the ultimate aim of ridding the island of Tamil people. 

The impunity with which the Sinhala Nation carries out its acts of genocide against the Tamil nation continues unabated. 

While we remember those Dark days of July 1983 we call upon the international community to heed the calls of the Tamil people for their protection from annihilation.

Please gather (clad in black) at a vigil opposite 10 Downing Street on Monday 23rd July 2012 from 5pm to 8pm.

British Tamils Forum