Response to Friday Forum “Lessons From Black July And The Recommendations Of The LLRC”


– by Shenali D Waduge –

Jayantha Dhanapala one time head of the Sri Lanka Peace Secretariat and Rev. Jayasiri T. Peiris has written on behalf of a group known as Friday Forum. Given that the Forum issues periodic statements on selected topics and issues questions emerge as to why some facts have been conveniently omitted.

Friday Forum remembers one incident but ignores 300 LTTE terror attacks

· If “Lessons from Black July” 1983 can be remembered by the Forum with “deep regret, shame and sadness” why is there no statement from the Forum on the “sadness” for the villagers of the Kent and Dollar Farms, innocent people and children who were slaughtered, cut to pieces in the most heinous way by the LTTE? Why is there never a statement on LTTE crimes against Sri Lankan civilians killed? Why does the Forum not remember with “sadness” each of the 300 murderous acts of bombings, suicide missions and acts of terror committed over 3 decades – why is there no statement for each of these attacks by the Forum?

· We would also like to know what these supposed “hate campaigns” preceding black July were, given that the reason for the riots were put down to the decision to bring 13 soldiers for burial in Colombo that is said to have sparked public outrage?

· The Forum may like to refer the Indian Jain Commission report and read the numerous affidavits of those submitting depositions that would prove LTTE and numerous other Tamil militant groups were being armed and trained by India and that 1983 became an excuse to use to camouflage India’s crime of training Sri Lankan militant groups by claiming it was because of the 1983 riots – this was a total fabrication of the truth. LTTE killed Duraiappah in 1972, LTTE bombed the Duraiappah Stadium well before 1983 and started to kill Tamil policemen well before 1983. It does make us wonder exactly who benefitted by the riots because it was certainly not the Sinhalese and this raises more questions about the exact perpetrators of the riots given that the eventual looting of homes and property was committed by riff raffs belonging to all communities even Tamil and Muslims!

· Friday Forum after 30 years is remembering just one single event and asking it not to be “repeated” when it is well aware that despite 300 attacks by LTTE directly on Sri Lankan public NOT A SINGLE retaliation against Tamils have taken place. This clearly proves that even 1983 was not anything that the Sinhalese or the Buddhists in particular were responsible or accountable for – so the question is what is Friday Forum’s objective?

· Mob attacks did take place in 1983. But these mob attacks were part of an organized plan for which the aim was to accuse the Sinhalese of the crime. Against the handful of those who took part in the attacks the majority of the Sinhalese protected their Tamil neighbors. Why is this never highlighted or mentioned? More Sinhalese protected their Tamil neighbors and friends than those who took part in the attack while those who looted were men belonging to all communities including Tamils and Muslims.

· Friday Forum has also forgotten that not only has the Government provided monetary compensation, the President has publicly apologized in Parliament and at the UN General Assembly.

· Why has the Friday Forum also omitted from mention the manner the LTTE forcibly evicted 27,000 Sinhalese residents from the North between 1971 and 1981 as well as chasing out 400 Sinhalese students and staff attending the Jaffna University in 1977? Were these events not far before 1983 riots? Why have these not got any statement issued by the Friday Forum?

· When the Friday Forum enjoys continuously referring to “reconciliation” how can such be possible when the TULF refuses to change its stand on “Vaddukodai Resolution” vis a vis the formation of a separate Tamil state? Was it not the call to take up arms in 1972 to the Tamil youth by the Tamil elders that provided the incentive to take to militancy?

If Friday Forum thinks that by issuing a statement ONLY on “Black July” totally ignoring the human tragedies that resulted from calculated attacks by Tamil tigers we have very little to say to the Forum in their selected bias and it would be good for the Forum to take cognizance of the fact that they are remembering with “sadness” just one incident for which Sinhalese were never directly responsible for totally ignoring the LTTE crimes committed over 3 decades!

Such a biased stand from so called Colombo intelligentsia is unbecoming of who they are supposed to represent and is a great disservice and injustice to the scores of civilians who perished because of LTTE terrorism. All that we can say is that it is unbecoming of a Forum to conveniently to exclude scores of LTTE crimes while only concentrating on one incident for which the Sinhalese were not directly responsible for.

Friday Forum must respond to Sebastian Rasalingam

What does Jayantha Dhanapala and the Friday Forum have to say to the comments by Sebastian Rasalingam who writes on “The 1983 Black-July pogrom and police inaction”.

o Mr. Rasalingam says as a Tamil he and his family has always been treated as outcasts by his own Tamil people. He belonging to a “very low caste” and his wife an “estate Tamil” – both treated as rodhis in the eyes of the high caste Tamils forcing him and family to live amongst the Sinhalese who were “friendly and “protective”.

o He also says that in 1939 Ponnambalam attacked the Sinhalese at a Nawalapitiya meeting calling the Sinhalese “racial half breeds”.

o He also says that the Tamil leaders were irritated by the Prevention of Social Disabilities Act (No. 21 of 1957) against caste discrimination in 1957 – why would Tamils oppose their own people obtaining school education just because they were outcastes? Was this not the real reason why elite Tamils opposed standardization because they viewed educated low caste Tamils as a threat to their superior rule over their own people?

o Is it not curious why all the Tamil agitations started ONLY after the 1957 legislation was introduced to allow Tamil outcastes to also obtain education and not in 1956 the year Sinhala Only was introduced. Thus, what is clear is that Tamil agitation began not against Sinhala Only but against the Social Discrimination Legislation of 1957.

o Mr. Rasalingam also asks why the top hierarchy of the Sri Lankan Police most of whom were Tamil including the IGP were slack in their action?

o Mr. Rasalingam also raises the same question on all our minds that LTTE was very much active in Colombo and its sympathizers were regularly collecting money from Tamil houses far before 1983 riots took place – thus, it is they who had lists of Tamils in order to collect money from them. Mr. Dhanapala would also like to note that LTTE’s Nadesan who became Prabakaran’s police chief was in charge of the Colombo-Nugegoda area in 1983 and he was well aware of LTTE money-collection program – the only issue was that some Tamils refused to pay and some preferred to openly support the TULF instead of the LTTE. We all know what happens when people do not follow LTTE orders!

o Mr. Rasalingam says “In my belief, the 1983 pogrom started as a spontaneous Sinhala reaction to the killing of the 13 soldiers by the LTTE. However, the uprising was immediately hijacked by parties (most probably of the LTTE) who had the Tamil-household lists, to intimidate those non-conforming Tamil homes who did not contribute to their Eelam cause. However, they in turn were out-numbered and hijacked by even more horrendous goons, jingoists, sadists etc., who moved in to profit from pure pillage and plunder” and we fully support this statement.

Religious hate campaigns – ignores actions concentrating only on reactions

· As regard hate campaigns all that needs to be said is that so long as certain religions use their clout to stop legislation against conversion whilst others use the power of money to make incursions into areas that are held sacred to the oldest indigenous culture and the Government does not make a clear ruling that just as other religions stick to a non-negotiable policy it is unfair to only barter the space of the Buddhists the majority populace will continue to feel threatened and hurt. It is as a result of these incursions and conversions that ill will has taken place and if the heads of these religions are concerned about peaceful co-existence it is they who should put a halt to actions that create and contribute to the reaction. Article 9 gives the place of Buddhism clearly in the Constitution which even the British upheld whilst it guarantees the freedom of other religions but Article 10 cannot prevail by superseding Article 9 or at the crucifixion of Article 9. The current innuendos associated with religious harmony conveniently evade the key issues which have given cause to the dissent. So long as the reasons are not addressed the solution will simply be a plastering. That the Friday Forum is only quoting Article 10 ignoring Article 9 clearly shows that the plot is to work towards liberal sponsored minoritism and its rule over the majority – similar to what prevailed in Vietnam under US puppet Ngo Diem.

Questions to Friday Forum

Given the emphasis on “reconciliation” by gluing LLRC to the statement on Black July, we would like to pose to the Friday Forum and ask :

· Why does the Friday Forum persist in attempting to bring shame on people who had nothing to do with the mob violence?

· Give that the Friday Forum are well aware of the fact that the majority Sinhalese protected their Tamil neighbors why is this fact purposely omitted from mention and is it not upto the Friday Forum of intelligentsia to put misconceived notions by portraying the correct picture even after 30 years of lies – why does the Friday Forum wish to join the lies?

· Why does the Friday Forum not issue statements about the 1971 and 1988-89 insurgencies where thousands of Sinhala youth were killed?

· Why is the deaths of Sinhalese youth not as “marketable” as those of Tamils?

· Why has the Friday Forum ignored that Sinhala Buddhists protected their Tamil friends and neighbors?

· Is the end objective of the Friday Forum to also join the chorus that is using all sorts of dubious means to portray Sinhalese Buddhists as “racists”?

As Mr. Rasalingham rightly says the Black July has become a beggars wound therefore it is time that the correct version of the 1983 is put right instead of using it to subtly attack communities in a bigger gameplan that is being craftily orchestrated for which the Forum head seems to be very much part of.

We hope that Jayantha Dhanapala in 2014 statement on Black July 83 would address at least some of the questions raised above and look forward to Friday Forum statements showing their “sadness” at the deaths of the Aranthalawa student monks, Central Bank bombing, Dollar and Kent farm villagers, scores of villagers brutally massacred, Kebethigollawa bus bomb, Kattankudy mosque massacre, killing of 600 policemen, Dehiwela train bombing, Temple of the Tooth attack, Anuradhapura Sri Maha Bodhi massacre of Buddhists while in daily prayer and scores of other attacks.

We would like to know why Friday Forum has not issued a statement for each of the 300 massacres by the LTTE? Given that it is very obvious that a resurgence of LTTE terror is being plotted using remnants of the LTTE who fled the country assisted by the very sources that had been helping LTTE thrive in Sri Lanka, the Friday Forum will well do to keep abreast of these developments too before jumping to preconceived biased conclusions.