Colombo Telegraph

The Toll: 1983 – July 1987

By Rajan Hoole

Dr. Rajan Hoole

Border Aggression and Civilian Massacres – Part 15

The victims of unlawful killings prior to the Indo-Lanka Accord of 29th July 1987 have not gone into the record of any commission of inquiry. It never occurred to Deputy Defence Minister Ratwatte and the Government who presented their list of Civilian Massacres in Parliament how offensive and counter-productive it was to pretend that Tamil victims did not exist. What could such a government mean by its slogan ‘War for Peace’?

We try to make good a part of the omission. The best record we have of Tamil victims during that period is that compiled by citizens’ committees in the North-East and published in the Saturday Review. Two important figures for Tamils killed are 2215 in 1985 and 2807 in 1986. The killing rate in 1986 was on the average 235 Tamils per month. 1984 began quietly and got very bloody from April. Making some allowance for citizens’ committees not differentiating killings by militants from those by the government, we arrive at the following estimates for the period 1983-July 1987:

1983 July | pic by Chandraguptha Amarasingha – A Tamil boy stripped naked and later beaten to death by Sinhala youth in Boralla bustation

Tamil civilians killed during the July 1983 violence: 2,000

Tamil civilians killed by the armed forces (1984 – June 1987): 7,000

Number of Sri Lankan soldiers killed: 650

Number of Sinhalese civilians killed (723 from Ratwatte’s document + unrecorded killings): 1,000

Tamil militants killed in combat (including 550 from the LTTE): 1,800

Tamil civilians and militants killed by the LTTE: An unknown number running into thousands

1,000 in the last would account for the kill- ings with some kind of record – such as the TELO militants killed on the streets (about 600 in early May 1986) or EPRLF militants massacred in prison in April 1987. But a large, unknown number of persons were released, allowed to go to their homes and were quietly killed. Such killings were very common towards 1987 end, when following the Indian Army’s offensive, the LTTE was pulling out of Jaffna. This number may exceed 1,000.

To be continued..

Next week; Mervyn de Silva on Israeli Involvement

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

Back to Home page