Marking 38 years since the horrors of Black July, the People for Equality and Relief for in Lanka (PEARL) renewed calls for justice and reflected on the "indelible impact of this genocide committed against Tamil people."
In a statement, the US-based organisation highlighted that the violent massacres of Black July, which took over 3,000 Tamil lives and forced more than 50,000 Tamils to flee the island, was "systematic and intentional genocide."
"The almost entirely Sinhalese police, military, and security forces stood idle and watched, or sometimes even encouraged and took part in the violence [...] Nearly four decades later, there has been no justice for Black July. No individual nor the Sri Lankan state has been held accountable for the atrocities that were committed, or the many other acts of violence that preceded and followed the events of Black July."
Reflecting on the indelible impact of the violence, PEARL notes;
"Black July is not only considered the spark for the 26-year long armed liberation struggle against the Government of Sri Lanka, but prompted the till then largest exodus of Tamils from their homeland, as over 500,000 Tamils fled the island, giving seed to the global diaspora we now know. We as a people continue to experience the collective trauma of Black July, and the far-reaching consequences it had on our lives, to this day."
PEARL further added that it was "the international failure to secure criminal or state accountability for historical and recent mass atrocities has reinforced the impunity of the Sri Lankan state for atrocity crimes against Tamils."
The organisation further maintains that "consistent failure of domestic institutions to hold the Sri Lankan state accountable and the unrepentant and increasingly authoritarian nature of the Rajapaksa Government make international action imperative to addressing the grave human rights situation in Sri Lanka."
"International engagement with Sri Lanka must not come at the cost of undermining the demands for justice of victim-survivor communities."
The statement concludes by reaffirming PEARL's commitment to advocate "for accountability for mass atrocities" and expressing "solidarity with the Tamil people's demands for justice and self-determination."
Read PEARL's full statement here.