Feature Article

"Death Won't Deter Us," - Diaspora Tamils mark 83 Black July Genocide

[TamilNet, Monday, 24 July 2006, 09:28 GMT]
The 1983 Black July anti-Tamil pogroms in which more than 3000 Tamils were killed and billions of rupees worth of property were destroyed by Sinhala thugs, sections of Sri Lankan armed forces, and ruling UNP party cadres, fuelled the Tamil armed struggle towards a defensible Tamil homeland. Thousands of Tamils fled the island to Tamil Nadu state in India, Europe and elsewhere. The recent extra-judicial killings in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) controlled areas in the NorthEast, during the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA), have added significance to the widespread observance by the Tamil diaspora of the 23rd year remembrance of the anti-Tamil pogroms.

Around one thousand Tamils were gathered in Schliran Salmen Hall in Zurich Sunday evening around 3:00 p.m.

Black July 83 anti-Tamil pogroms in Southern Sri Lanka, that shocked the world, were the biggest of politically orgnised anti-Tamil riots of 1956, 1961, 1977 and 1983.

In the July 83 anti-Tamil pogrom Sinhala thugs, ruling UNP party cadres, sections of Sri Lankan troopers, and Sri Lanka Police killed more than 3000 Tamils and destroyed property worth billions of rupees.

53 Tamil political prisoners in the Welikade prison in the South were killed by armed Sinhala inmates, on the 25th and 27th of July 1983.

Although the Sri Lankan authorities have attempted to describe the July 1983 anti-Tamil pogroms as Sinhala backlash to 13 SLA soldiers death on 23 July landmine attack by the Tigers, records later exposed that the 83 riots displayed a preplanned, organised pogroms rather than spontaneous upsurge of violence against Tamils.

Paul Sieghart, the then chariman of the British section of International Commission of Jurists, in a report titled "Sri Lanka: A Mounting Tragedy of Errors, noted that the 83 July riots were "a series of deliberate acts, executed in accordance with a concerted plan, conceived and organized well in advance."

"Clearly this [83 riots] was no spontaneous upsurge of communal hatred among the Sinhala people - nor was it as has been suggested in some quarters, a popular response to the killing of 13 soldiers in an ambush the previous day by Tamil Tigers, which was not even reported in the newspapers until the riots began," the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) report said.

One of the first accounts of the July 83 anti-Tamil pogroms, "Sri Lanka: the Holocaust and After," revealed details on UNP led goon squads who went searching for Tamils with electoral lists containinng details of Tamils in Colombo. The book gives details how the then Sri Lankan Industries Minister Cyril Mathew organised the pogroms in Kelaniya and Kandy and notes that the preparations to attack Tamils had been made in advance.

In 2004, 21 years after 1983, a token apology was issued by Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Again, in 1998 and onwards, mass graves, came to be known as Chemmani graves, were exposed in Jaffna. Hundreds of Tamil civilians who were abducted by the Sri Lanka Army after 1996, were reported missing. Amnesty International reported that the organisation estimated as many 540 people as disappeared in Jaffna in mid-1996.

On October 25, 2000, Twenty-eight Tamil inmates, between the ages of 14-23 years, in Sri Lankan detention centre jail Bindunuwewa, were massacred while 14 other Tamil youths were seriously injured by Sinhala mobs and Sri Lanka Police.

The recent outburst of extra-judicial killings against Tamil media personnel, parliamentarians, traders, auto-rickshaw drivers and ordinary Tamils in an alleged campaign of terror, have caused an emotional sense of unity among the Tamil diaspora, supporting the Tamil cause for a contiguous defensible homeland.

USA2918:00 Texas
Belgium2514:00-17:00 Shuman Place
New Zealand25,27,2915:00 Auckland Normal Inter- mediate School
Denmark2512:00-17:00 in 4 cities
Australia, Melbourne24,2508:00-20:00 Federation Square
Australia, Sydney2512:00-19:00 Martin Place
Swiss23 and onwards in 26 locations
Sweden25-28 Sergel Torg
Norway2511:00-15:00 in 3 cities
Germany2509:00-17:00 in 15 cities
UK2512:30-15:30 Hyde Park
Netherlands2509:00-19:00 Dam Amsterdam
France2515:00-18:00 Mur de la paix
Italy2509:00 in two cities

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