Lend a Voice

“To stay quiet is as political an act as speaking out.”
Arundhati Roy, Author and Activist

The plight of the silenced can only be alleviated when enough are listening. Those suffering in Sri Lanka are stifled from speaking. Please lend them your voice.

This section contains addresses of key policy makers and news agencies along with sample letters and useful guides.

Interactive Timeline

This section contains a timeline depicting the historical background of the Sri Lankan conflict. Spanning from the pre-colonial era to present day events, the timeline allows the user to gain valuable insight into the causes of this conflict. (Launch Flash Timeline...)

 

In Pictures

Short documentary on Black July and links to other related videos. (view feature video...)

Related Videos:
Tamil Abductions: An SBS Dateline production on the recent abductions of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Sivaram: Violence against Journalists (Part 2, Part 3): Film about the silencing of free speech through death and intimidation.
Shadow War: The emergence of 'paramilitaries' and their impact on the cease fire.
Still Photographs
The Violence Continues

Articles on the recent acts of persecution against the Tamil minority. (complete list of articles...)

Related Links:
Touched by Tragedy: An Australian medical doctor teaching in the North East puts forth his first-hand view of the situation. pdf
I am not a Terrorist: The high price Tamils are forced to pay for basic human rights.
No Middle Way for Militant Monks: The role played by the Buddhist clergy in this conflict.
Black July in "Quotes"

A flash animation containing a series of observations depicting the events of July 1983 and its implications. Many of the quotes in this section are sourced from independent journalists and international witnesses.

 

A Few Last Words

There are several accounts of Tamils attributing their escape from death, to their Sinhalese and Muslim neighbours. We are grateful to those who risked their own lives to allow Tamils to hide in their homes.

The 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom produced an exodus of Tamils who fled to all parts of the world. Our appreciation extends to countries, such as Australia, for welcoming us, and providing a safe home to live in.

We appreciate your thoughts, suggestions and queries. Please send us your feedback.

Your Story

Stories from witnesses and victims from around the Globe (TBA).

Did you or someone you know get affected by Black July or any other incident? Tell us your story.

 

 

“Some 6000 Tamils have been killed altogether in the last few years… These events are not accidental. It can be seen that they are the result of a deliberate policy on the part of the Sri Lankan government… Democracy in Sri Lanka does not exist in any real sense"
- Senator A.L.Missen, Chairman, Australian Parliamentary Group of Amnesty International, expressed his growing concern in March 1986:

 

July 1983, Sri Lanka…

 

"I am not worried about the opinion of the Jaffna people... now we cannot think of them, not about their lives or their opinion... the more you put pressure in the north, the happier the Sinhala people will be here... Really if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy."
- President J.R.Jayawardene, Daily Telegraph, July 1983

"Mobs of Sinhala youth rampaged through the streets, ransacking homes, shops and offices, looting them and setting them ablaze, as they sought out members of the Tamil ethnic minority."
- London Daily Telegraph 26 July 1983

 


Rioters loot and destroy Tamil property

 

"... a mob attacked a Tamil cyclist riding near Colombo's eye hospital, a few hundred yards from the home of Junius Jayawardene, the nation's 76 year old President. The cyclist was hauled from his bike, drenched with petrol and set alight. As he ran screaming down the street, the mob set on him and hacked him down with jungle knives..."
- London Daily Telegraph; 26 July 1983

 


A Tamil boy stripped naked and later beaten to death by Sinhala youth

 

''A tourist told yesterday how she watched in horror as a Sinhala mob deliberately burned alive a bus load of Tamils... 'A mini bus full of Tamils were forced to stop in front of us in Colombo' she [Mrs.Eli Skarstein] said. A Sinhalese mob poured petrol over the bus and set it on fire. They blocked the car door and prevented the Tamils from leaving the vehicle. 'Hundreds of spectators watched as about 20 Tamils were burned to death'. 
- London Daily Express, 29th August 1983

 


Rioters stop cars searching for Tamils

 

 

"The violence was vicious and bloody. But what distinguished it from many other communal Asian riots was the way that the mob singled out specific business premises…groups of rioters hit only at shops and factories, as well as homes owned by Tamils. Their careful selectivity is apparent now…Troops and police (almost exclusively Sinhalese) either joined the rioters or stood idly by. The events were so well organised no one doubts that there was a master list of targets."
- Financial Times, 12 August 1983

 


A Sinhala mob looting a Tamil shop, with uniformed policemen looking on

 

"The rioters seeking out Tamil homes and burning them had a particularly detailed knowledge of who lived where and who owned what.'' 
- London Times, 8 August 1983

 


Buildings on fire; cars overturned; looters walk away with goodies

 

" The evidence points clearly to the conclusion that the violence of the Sinhala rioters on the Tamils amounted to Acts of Genocide."
- The Review, International Commission of Jurists, December 1983

 


Tamil property goes up in flames

 

"Clearly this was not a 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... It was a series of deliberate acts, executed in accordance with a concerted plan, conceived and organised well in advance."
- Paul Sieghart; 'Sri Lanka: A mounting tragedy of errors'; International Commission of Jurists Report, March 1984

 


Tamil businesses are singled out and burnt to the ground

"Motorists were dragged from their cars to be stoned and beaten with sticks... Others were cut down with knives and axes."
- London Daily Telegraph 26 July 1983

 


A car after it and it's passengers are set alight

''Foreign aid for the relief of Tamils is failing to reach the refugee camps where it was needed. Instead foreign aid and essential medical supplies are being stored in government depots. The government stores are full but the food is not being distributed.''
- London Observer, 7 August 1983

 


Thousands of Tamils are made refugees overnight

More quotes:

''Eye witnesses and victims reported that on the streets cars were stopped by gangs and the people inside were asked whether they were Sinhalese or Tamil. Some Sinhalese words are extremely difficult for people who do not speak the language fluently to pronounce, people were tested by being made to pronounce these words. The mobs were also demanding to see identity cards to establish whether or not people were Tamils... People identified as Tamils as a result of the questioning were told to get out of their cars and their cars were set alight... In cases where any resistance was offered, killings were likely to take place... It was reported by many people that in some instances students from Buddhist schools followed on behind the first rioters and that some Buddhist monks were seen amongst the gangs''
- Patricia Hyndman, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of New South Wales and Secretary, Lawasia Human Rights Standing Committee Report -Democracy in Peril, June 1985

“Others were cut down with knifes and axes. Mobs of Sinhala youth rampaged through the streets, ransacking homes, shops and offices, looting them and setting them ablaze, as they sought out members of the Tamil ethnic minority... A Sri Lankan friend told me by telephone last night how he had watched horrified earlier in the day as a mob attacked a Tamil cyclist riding near Colombo's eye hospital, a few hundred yards from the home of Junius Jayawardene, the nations 76 year old President. The cyclist was hauled from his bike, drenched with petrol and set alight. As he ran screaming down the street, the mob set on him again and hacked him down with jungle knifes.."
- London Daily Telegraph, 26 July 1983

''The shells of (Tamil owned) businesses line Galle Road, the main waterfront thoroughfare advertising the names that marked them for destruction. Lakshmi Mahal, pawbroker, or Ram Gram stores and florist.. Damage estimates are uncertain and incomplete, but the total economic loss has been placed at $300 million.''
- New York Times, August 1983

''All over the city by mid-morning lorries jammed with young men shouting anti Tamil slogans, were moving into Tamil areas and into shopping centres picking out Tamil shops... Petrol was siphoned from cars into buckets and plastic bowls to speed the work of arson.. By noon Colombo resembled a city after a bombing raid. Smoke obscured the sun, main roads were blocked by burnt out vehicles.. The rioting surged into the heart of the city. In area after area Sinhalese rioters systematically picked out Tamil homes and shops, whether occupied or empty, and looted and destroyed them...''
- Guardian, 26 July 1983

''A tourist told yesterday how she watched in horror as a Sinhala mob deliberately burned alive a bus load of Tamils... Mrs.Eli Skarstein, back home in Stavanger, Norway, told how she and her 15 year old daughter, Kristin, witnessed one massacre. 'A mini bus full of Tamils were forced to stop in front of us in Colombo' she said. A Sinhalese mob poured petrol over the bus and set it on fire. They blocked the car door and prevented the Tamils from leaving the vehicle. 'Hundreds of spectators watched as about 20 Tamils were burned to death'. Mrs. Skarstein added: 'We can't believe the official casualty figures. Hundreds may be thousands must have been killed already."
- London Daily Express, 29th August 1983

''Considerably more people died during the recent violence in Sri Lanka than the 380 deaths the government there has admitted to according to an aid organisation. Dr.Sjef Teuns, General Secretary of Novib, the leading private development aid organisation in the Netherlands… accused the Sri Lanka government of serious human rights violations against the Tamil population and called the Dutch government to reconsider its development aid policy towards the country.''
- London Times, 22 August 1983

'Official estimates are just under 400 killed. These estimates are conservative. Unofficial estimates are as high as 1500 to 2000. It is probable that many bodies were not at first discovered because they were burned in houses. Also some bodies were hidden and buried privately by people who were frightened by the prospect of further reprisals should the bodies be discovered, or scared to attract attention to themselves by reporting the deaths. At the date of our departure from Sri Lanka, September 1st, there were many people still missing or not accounted for.''
- Patricia Hyndman, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of New South Wales and Secretary, Lawasia Human Rights Standing Committee Report -Democracy in Peril, June 1985

"Tamil owned businesses account for between 50 and 60 percent of the commercial life of the capital and they have been destroyed - scientifically extracted from among their neighbours and burned."
The London Times, 2 August 1983

''A most distressing aspect of the vandalism was the burning and the destruction of the houses and dispensaries of eminent Tamil doctors - some with over a quarter of a century of service in Sinhala areas...''
- Eye witness account, Sri Lanka: Racism and the Authoritarian State - Race and Class, Volume XXVI, A.Sivanandan and Hazel Waters, Institute of Race Relations

"Smoke from hundreds of shops, offices, warehouses and homes blew idly over Colombo yesterday. Any business, any house belonging to or occupied by a Tamil has been attacked by gangs of goondas and the resulting destruction looks like London after a heavy night's attention from the Luftwaffe. The sharp smell of destruction fills the nostrils and the roads beneath the feet crunch with broken glass. Cars and lorries lie at ungainly angles across the footways. In Pettah, the old commercial heart of the city, row after row of sari boutiques, electronic dealers, rice sellers, car parts stores, lie shattered and scarred... government officials yesterday estimated that 20,000 businesses had been attacked in the city."
- The Guardian, 28 July 1983

''About 100 industrial plants were severly damaged or destroyed, including 20 garment factories. The cost of industrial reconstruction was estimated at 2,000 million rupees (£55 million). This did not include damaged shops.''
- The Guardian, 9 August 1983