Black July in Sri Lanka, Yesterday and Today
USTPAC marks 31st anniversary of anti-Tamil violence in Sri Lanka, highlights the denial of justice to the victims of Black July and urges international action.
WASHINGTON, July 30 2014: July 2014 marks the 31st anniversary of “Black July 1983,” the pogrom against the Tamils living in Sri Lanka, carried out with total impunity by Sinhala Buddhist mobs with the encouragement and support of the Government of Sri Lanka. Unites States Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) joins Tamils in the United States and the rest of the world, and somberly remember and commemorate these dark days with religious observances and reflection.
Approximately 3000 Tamils were murdered in the pogrom — some burnt alive –, tens of thousands of Tamil homes and businesses destroyed, hundreds of thousands of Tamils displaced, made refugees and forced to live in makeshift camps. July 1983 was preceded by many acts of violence against the Tamils, their culture and their heritage, including the destruction of the Jaffna Library and its valuable collection of ancient Tamil documents.
“Black July was a watershed event that signaled to the Tamils that they would have only a subservient place in a Sri Lanka ruled by the majority Sinhala Buddhists, for their exclusive benefit,” stated Dr. Karunyan Arulanantham, President of USTPAC. “The message of exclusion and subservience was reinforced by the then President J.R. Jayawardene, who made a televised speech even while the violence was going on, not to speak a word of sympathy to the Tamil victims, but to justify it as something the Tamils deserved,” observed Dr. Arulanantham.
Tamils this year will also sadly remember that the attitude and mindset of the Sinhala Buddhist majority in that country that made Black July possible still prevails, and now targets not only the Tamils, but also the Muslim, Christian and Hindu communities in the island. Sinhala Buddhist mobs, led by Buddhist monks and with the tacit support of the police and armed forces, destroyed Muslim property and killed four Muslims with impunity in the violence in June in Aluthgama.
The violence against the Tamils has now become mainstream government policy to be carried out by the Sinhala Buddhist army of occupation in the North East. “Tamil lands are expropriated, Tamils are denied the right to mourn their dead, Tamil children and women are raped with impunity, all while an ex-military governor appointed by the president holds executive authority and the largest military per capita in Asia is stationed in the traditional Tamil homelands,” charged Dr. Arulanantham.
The bloodletting that began in July 1983 continued till May 2009 with the killing of over 75,000 Tamil civilians in the final months. In March this year, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for an international investigation of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka.
“Tamils and non-Sinhala Buddhist communities in the island cannot hope for justice from the Government of Sri Lanka. Their hope lies in the International community and its desire to see decency prevail in all countries of the world,” concluded Dr. Arulanantham.