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Reliving Black July 1983

As Eelam Tamils around the world mark thirty years from the horrors of the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983, we remember the events of that infamous month of 'Black July' via a collection of excerpts from international newspapers published at the time... As well as news stories from the last two years...

21 Jul 1983 - The Times:

"The Government yesterday imposed local and foreign press censorship on all news about national security, law and order, essential supplies, and incitement to mutiny, riot or civil commotion."

Uthayan reporter attacked (10 Jul 2013)

Government lesson in patriotism for Sri Lankan media (03 May 2013)

Tamil newspaper office attacked in Kilinochchi (03 Apr 2013)

BBC suspends Sri Lanka broadcasts after 'interference' (26 Mar 2013)

Tamil journalist attacked in Jaffna (08 Mar 2013)

BBC crew abused at Buddhist rally (17 Feb 2013)

Jaffna newspaper distributor attacked (07 Feb 2013)

Uthayan newspaper distributor attacked (10 Jan 2013)

Media ministry demands registration from websites (04 Jan 2013)

Military stops journalist from visiting IDPs (28 Sep 2012) 

Uthayan editor interrogated by CID (21 Jul 2012)

Sri Lanka plans to tweak press laws to include further regulation of websites (10 Jul 2012)

Sri Lanka to ban websites critical of the government (04 Jul 2012)

SL police raid news website offices (29 Jun 2012)

Government blocks 5 Tamil news sites (28 Jun 2012)

Presidential instructions (15 May 2012)

Media should 'put country first' – Media Ministry (05 May 2012)

Rajapaksa tells Sri Lankan media to broadcast the truth (30 Mar 2012)

Media Ministry rejects half of all media registrations (26 Mar 2012)

Sri Lanka censors text messages (12 Mar 2012)

Government to set up 'media authority' (27 Jan 2012)

Media Ministry has "full authority" to act against websites (17 Nov 2011)

Sri Lanka bans opposition website (07 Nov 2011)

Sri Lanka orders news websites to register (06 Nov 2011)


23 Jul 1983 - The Montreal Gazette

"The officials said 17 prisoners died in a jailbreak at the Welikada jail in the capital of Colombo, where 35 Hindu Tamil prisoners were massacred Monday by fellow inmates belonging to the nation's Buddhist Sinhalese majority. Guards also opened fire yesterday on rioting Tamil prisoners in the jail of Jaffna, 386 kilometres north of Colombo killing three of them"
Sri Lanka's systematic rape of Tamil detainees - HRW (26 Feb 2013)

Former cadres reveal accounts of continued rape (30 Aug 2012)

Tamil political prisoners attacked in Galle again, one in coma (27 Aug 2012)

SL Police disrupt Tamil prisoner’s last rites and warn against funeral proceedings (10 Aug 2012)

Tamil detainee attacked by jailers, dies (09 Aug 2012)

Sri Lankan officials refuse to handover body of Tamil political prisoner (06 Jul 2012)

Political detainee transferred from Vavuniya prison dies (04 Jul 2012)

Transferred Tamil political prisoners attacked in Anuradhapura (01 Jul 2012)

Tamil political prisoners attacked in Vavuniya prison by security forces (29 Jun 2012)

Jailed Tamils attacked by Sinhala prisoners in Galle (20 Apr 2012)

Tamil prisoners moved as riots engulf Welikada prison (24 Jan 2012)

Prison attack victims investigated for 'attempt to tarnish image of Sri Lanka' (05 Dec 2011)

Prison guards attack Tamil detainees over Heroes’ Day (27 Nov 2011)

Tamils injured in detention centre riot (23 Oct 2011)

 27 Jul 1983 - The Times:

"Here in Britain some of the 25,000 Sri Lanka Tamils blamed the start of the fighting on an incident last week in which three teenage girls at a bus-stop near Jaffna in the north of Sri Lanka were allegedly abducted and raped by soldiers. On girl was later said to have committed suicide.

They also claim another atrocity in which six schoolboys were shot and killed by troops and police in the same area. They blame these incidents for prompting the attack by Tamil guerrillas on a Sri Lankan Army vehicle on Saturday, in which 13 soldiers were killed."


Woman's corpse in Maankulam identified as SL Defence Force recruit (05 Jun 2013)

Land grab protesters met with SL riot police in Tellipalai (29 Apr 2013)

TNPF member threatened by security forces and paramilitary over protest (17 Jan 2013)

Police officials attack Tamil youths (01 Jan 2013)

Doctor arrested by SL military (30 Dec 2012)

Tamil women recruited in SL army, sexually assaulted (30 Nov 2012)

Security forces attack youth in Jaffna (28 Nov 2012)

Military storm Jaffna uni hostels, students attacked (27 Nov 2012)

Army increases random searches in Mullaitivu (08 Aug 2012)

Woman raped by SL army 'willingly participated' say police (07 Aug 2012)

SL military surround Nimalaroopan's funeral (24 Jul 2012)

Tamil priest in Jaffna attacked by Sri Lankan Army (03 Jul 2012)

Cancer specialist's home attacked – Jaffna (14 Jun 2012)

Abducted Tamil found dead by military zone (18 Apr 2012)

ICG – militarised North-East leading to women's insecurity (20 Dec 2011)

Resurgence of 'white vans' abductions (12 Dec 2011)

27 Jul 1983 - The Times :

"These mostly involved in the present troubles are the Ceylon Tamils, a highly educated, superior minority, who feel victimized by the Sinhalese. Not only are there fewer industrial opportunities for them in the north but Tamil boys have been discriminated against in winning places at university"

"Despite their minority status the Tamils for years held top jobs in business and administration under the British, jobs they have mostly since lost under Sinhalese rule. The cause of the present violence must therefore be seen in part economic terms"


Military hampering Northern economy - EU delegation (19 Jul 2013)

Mannar civil society accuses SL army of obstructing initiative (25 Jun 2013)

Tamil pupils transported to Army cinema to watch Singhalese movie (02 Mar 2013)

'Sinhala Only' education documents still in place (24 Feb 2013)

Education ministry threatens complete closure of Jaffna Uni (06 Jan 2013)

Military makes up for 'lack of teachers' in Kilinochchi (05 Jan 2013)

TID summon President of Jaffna University Teachers Association (21 Dec 2012)

Jaffna University students arrested by Sri Lankan TID (01 Dec 2012)

Armed intelligence officers roam Jaffna Uni campus (27 Nov 2012)

Army teaches Sinhalese to Tamil schoolchildren (16 Nov 2012)

Only in Sri Lanka (20 Oct 2012)

Teachers complain about the destruction of Tamil youth's education in the north (11 Jul 2012)

Heavy military presence around Jaffna University (30 May 2012)

Canada urges investigation into Tamil man’s murder (11 May 2012)

28 Jul 1983 - The Times :

"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 (hooligans) and the resulting destruction looks like London after a heavy night's attention from the Luftwaffe."

"Government officials yesterday estimated that 20,000 business had been attacked in the city and declared that there was a pattern of organisation and planning in the rioting and looting."

"One of the principal reasons for Britain's delay in granting independence to its former colony was because of fears that the majority would tyrannize the minority Tamils. But the majority Sinhala speakers feel that they are threatened by 40 million Tamil speakers in India."


Sri Lankan cricket fans attack Tamil #BoycottLKA activists in London (17 Jun 2013)

Tamil political party's office attacked in Amparai (08 May 2013)

Tamil MPs attacked as Sri Lankan security forces stand by (30 Mar 2013)

Tamil undergrads attacked by Sinhalese students (02 Nov 2012)

Monks block Saiva temple extension, claim yet another sacred Buddhist site (12 Oct 2012)

Mannar Church attacked with stones (09 Sep 2012)

Buddhist monk-led mob steals statue from Hindu temple (15 Aug 2012) 

Attacks on Hindu temples escalate (17 May 2012)

Monks and mobs in Dambulla (23 Apr 2012)

Tamil homes torched and looted by Sinhala mob in Galle (17 Apr 2012)

 29 Jul 1983 - The Montreal Gazette :

"Addressing the island nation on radio and television for the first time since violent clashes between majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil erupted six days ago, Jayewardene said the Tamil movement "should have been banned long, long ago. The Sinhalese will never agree to the separation of a country that has been a united nation for 2500 years," Jayewardene said.

People who advocate separatism the president said, would lose all their "civic rights", be banned from holding any office and preventing from practising a profession."

A government official also confirmed that 130 Sinhalese sailors of the Sri Lankan navy broke from their barracks in the port city of Trincomalee Monday and burned 175 houses in a Tamil neighbourhood, killing one Tamil and wounding 10 others.

A Norwegian tourist reported seeing a Sinhalese mob pour gasoline on a minibus full of about 20 Tamils in Colombo and set it on fire. From Oslo, Eli Skarstein was quoted as saying, "Colombo was burning when we left. Women, children and old people were slaughtered. Police and soldiers did nothing to stop this genocide."

Douglas Liyanage, secretary of the ministry of state, acknowledged that Sinhalese passengers on a Colombo-bound train from the central Sri Lanka town of Kandy had attacked Tamil passengers they suspected of carrying weapons. Passengers said one of the Tamils was chased naked and bleeding through the railway cars until he fell dead and was thrown off.

The wave of killings was touched off by the ambush and slaying of 13 Sinhalese soldiers by Tamil insurgent guerillas over the weekend. But the violence grows out of a century of deeply-rooted hatred, along with differences of language and religion between the Buddhist Sinhalese and the Hindu Tamils."


Jaffna student detained and tortured (21 Jul 2013)

'Repeatedly tortured' as an 'LTTE suspect' without charge (26 Jun 2013)

Student attacked in Batticaloa (11 Jun 2013)

Student found strangled, 3 more female students summoned by TID (14 Dec 2012)

Sexual attacks on Tamil women in the East (08 Oct 2012)

Jaffna student leader attacked before remembrance event (18 May 2012)

Sexual abuse rapidly escalates in Jaffna (10 Mar 2012)

Tamil businessman abducted in Wellawatte (19 Feb 2012)

Army set up military check points at Jaffna University (23 Dec 2012)

Jaffna Students: Sri Lankan Government responsible for assault (17 Oct 2011)

President of Student Union attacked in Jaffna (16 Oct 2011)

29 Jul 2012 - The Times :
 "Mr Jayewardene said in a nationwide broadcast: "The government has not decided that the time has come to accede to the clamour and the request, the natural request, of the Sinhala people that we do not allow the movement for division to grow any more."

Protesters 'got the medicine they deserved' - SL cricket spokesperson (23 Jun 2013)

Gota says no civilians went missing, only terrorists (25 Jan 2013)

'Don't even dream' of Jaffna students release - SL Army chief (22 Dec 2012)

Self-immolation of 70m Tamils brings a smile to SL's face (20 Sep 2012)

Only criminals are abducted in white vans says Gotabhaya (21 Jul 2012)

Minister's threat to Tamils of “100 more massacres” (18 Jun 2012)

Mervyn steadfast in vow to 'break limbs' (28 Mar 2012) 

“I will break your limbs in public!” – Minister threat to human rights activists (23 Mar 2012)

29 Jul 1983 - The Age :

"Frustrated expectations of increased self-rule for the Tamil community, coupled with Government fears that its support from the majority Sinhalese was slipping, appear to have been the primary combustibles that ignited the worst violence in this scenic island nation since 1948."


SL security forces block 1000s Tamils travelling to protest march (06 Mar 2013)

SL military disrupts protest by Valikaamam IDPs (15 Feb 2013)

Protest commences in Jaffna against arrest of students (04 Dec 2012)

Tamils defiant as SL state attempts to quash remembrance (27 Nov 2012)

Tamil protesters in Vanni intimidated by SL military (21 Sep 2012)

Police block Tamil protest in Jaffna (18 Jun 2012)

Jaffna Tamil students burn island constitutions on Jubilee Day (08 Jun 2012)

Court orders injunction to halt doctors' protest in Jaffna (07 Jul 2012)

Defying military, students remember May 18th at Jaffna Uni (18 May 2012)

ICG warns of 'future violence' if Sri Lanka does not improve (01 Mar 2012)

Tamil defiance in the Eelam homeland (30 Nov 2011)

Jaffna uni students detail their defiant act of remembrance (29 Nov 2011)

Jaffna Uni students rise up in protest (08 Sep 2011)

 01 Aug 1983 - The Sydney Morning Herald :
"The Sri Lankan Government has cracked down on political opponents and appealed for public support, saying ethnic bloodshed on the island is part of a foreign-inspired plot to overthrow it."

Gotabhaya's bogeymen... (14 Jun 2013)

GL Peiris slams foreign intervention (29 Apr 2013)

Sri Lanka’s Army Commander lashes out at ‘foreign intervention’ (20 May 2013)

Foreign conspiracies cause for judiciary trouble – Gotabhaya (29 Dec 2012)

Wimal says West engaged in destabilising project in SL (03 Dec 2012)

SL President - 'NGOs destroying our country' (15 Oct 2012)

SL minister: 'Americans are trying to kill me' (20 Mar 2012)

Government intelligence has 'unearthed' campaign (11 Jan 2012)








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