26 May, 2024


Black July: Further Evidence Of Advance Planning

By Rajan Hoole –

Rajan Hoole

Sri Lanka’s Black July – Part 22

It was not as though the UNP on the 25th morning taking a cue from Cyril Mathew, picked up electoral lists from party offices and went about attacking Tamil homes. In the context of Jayewardene not taking advice from the Police to declare curfew, the methodical attacks with lists had started in Anderson Flats, Narahepita, by 5.00 A.M. (see T. Sabaratnam, CDN 27.7.99). Mobs entered Tamil flats identified from lists, smashed property and threw refrigerators over the balcony, but did not harm the people if they did not resist. It does not seem credible to suppose that taking advantage of there being no curfew, some bright sparks started something that quickly became widespread and moreover, uniform.

The attacks on the 25th were widespread in the Western Province. Thugs from one area went into another area, often to be joined by UNP local councillors with electoral lists taking on lane by lane. T.D.S.A. Dissanayaka himself comments on the methodical thoroughness in Athulathmudali’s electorate of Ratmalana and in Dehiwela. Houses owned by Sinhalese and occupied by Tamils had the furniture dragged out and burnt. Thugs boarded the train from Galle at Attidiya, Ratmalana, and got down at various points in Wellawatte in an organised manner by pulling the emergency chord and went in to attack from the sea front. The attacks started at sharp 10.00 A.M. and stopped at 4.00 P.M.

A particular revealing instance was related by T. Sabaratnam, a Tamil journalist in the state owned Ceylon Daily News (article of 27.7.99). Having received a call from a friend of attacks on Narahenpitiya flats, he locked his house in Dehiwela and moved with his family to Castle Lane, Bambalapitiya. He later learnt from his Sinhalese neighbour that a gang had come late in the morning and asked for Tamil houses. The neighbour denied that there were any in the lane. The article runs, “The gang leader pulled out a list and showed my name…. Around the same time the houses of R. Sivagurunathan, P. Balasingham, K. Nadarajah, K. Sivapragasam, Ponmany Kulasingham and others who held influential positions in the field of Tamil journalism were set ablaze. The suspicion among us at that time was against the JSS, headed by Industries Minister Cyril Mathew.”

This was the case of a special list of prominent Tamils prepared by JSS men in their departments. The gang attacking these houses was one delegated to work on this list. It was not part of the general sweep based on electoral lists. This special list had undoubtedly been prepared well in advance.

To be continued..

Part one – Sri Lanka’s Black July: Borella, 24th Evening

Part two – Sri Lanka’s Black July: What Really Happened At Kanatte?

Part three – Black July: ‘Api Suddha Kara’ – JR’s Failure To Declare Curfew

Part four – Sri Lanka’s Black July: The Cover Up

Part five –  30th July 1983: The Second Naxalite Plot

Part six  – Black July: The Testimony Of Lionel Bopage, Then General Secretary Of The JVP

Part seven – Black July: Thondaman & Muttetuwegama

Part eight – What Was Behind Tiger Friday – 29th July? -The Significance Of The Pettah

Part nine – Tamil Merchants In The Pettah – Post July 1983

Part ten –  Sri Lanka’s Black July: A Family’s Tragedy In Colombo

Part eleven –  Sri Lanka’s Black July: The Question Of Numbers

Part twelve –  Welikade Prison Massacres: The First Massacre: 25th July 1983

Part thirteen –  Welikade Prison Massacres: Testimonies Given At The Magistrate’s Inquest

Part fourteen –  Circumstances Leading To The Magistrate’s Inquest

Part fifteen – Welikade Prison: The Second Massacre: 27th July 1983

Part sixteen – Welikade Prison Massacres: Chief Jailor Observed Army Commandos Coming In

Part seventeen – Welikade Prison Massacres: Postscript

Part eighteen – July 1983: Planned By The State Or Spontaneous Mob Action?

Part nineteen – July 1983: Ranil Wickremasinghe Followed Cyril Mathew

Part twenty – Events Of 24th July – The Eve Of The Holocaust: Who Wanted A Military Funeral?

Part twenty one –  Events Of 24th July: What Were The Army’s Orders?

*From Rajan Hoole‘s “Sri Lanka: Arrogance of Power  – Myth, Decadence and Murder”. Thanks to Rajan for giving us permission to republish. To be continued..

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Latest comments

  • 0

    The pattern of setting aside and rendering the police irrelevant, while political thugs and the military go on the rampage has been evident for a long time.

    There is need for a serious study and re-assessment of civil-military relations in the context of the need to restructure and down size the highly politicized and corrupt military and military businesses and STOP military land and house grabs and rebuild democracy structures.

    Of course having an independent police commission would go a long way to reforming the police to perform law and order tasks and policing..

  • 0

    We need more Sinhalese Buddhist politicians in the calibre of great Cyril Matthew unlike the majority of present lot who would do anything a get a vote from a minority…….

  • 0

    Rajan Hoole like Sir Samuel Pyps[who recorded all the Londons Fires]has recorded the fires of July 1983.The atrocities committed in the North East by all sides to the conflict in the Post 1983 period has also been documented via the UTHR bulletins.Indeed like a ball by ball commentary. This is authentic history.A Miller Mathematical Gold Medalist his writings are precise.

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