I, a post Black July diaspora youth, on behalf of the Tamil Youth Organisation UK stand here today to mark the 30th year remembrance of one of the bloodiest anti-Tamil pogrom in the history of the Tamils.
Black July is a term that is not unfamiliar to Tamils, in deed it is a term that always makes one’s eyes roll up with tears as it is during this period in 1983 that over 3000 innocent Tamils in Colombo were slaughtered and over 150,000 made homeless by the genocidal government of Sri Lanka and government sponsored mobs.
It is shocking to know that this was not just a spontaneous act of violence that sprouted in the Capital but instead it was a pre-planned conspiracy to launch a widespread attack against Tamil life, limb and property on a massive scale. All it required was a powerful incident to be the provocative pretext to justify such an attack.
Men having long hair or ‘Kadukkan’, the traditional ear studs, were easily identified as being Tamil and stripped naked before being set alight. Women having flowers in their hair or having ‘poddu’, religious markings on the forehead, were also easily identified as being Tamil, stripped naked, raped and killed. Singhala thugs, just as people brand livestock, even ‘branded’ the Singhala ‘Shree’ on Tamil men and women’s chest.
I ask you to take a deep breath, pause for a second and think about what has happened here (pause). We, Tamils, became mere livestock to the ruthless genocidal government of Sri Lanka.
Ask how this was allowed to happen and you will find the answer at the top of the governmental hegemonic hierarchy. The president of Sri Lanka, J. R. Jeyawardena, at the time said that he was not worried about the opinion of the Jaffna people, not about their lives or their opinion and further stated that if he starved the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy.
It is not surprising then that the government officials did not implement any curfew or arrest anyone for the atrocities. They instead watched everything with amusement and even encouraged on the mobs.
The scale of the Black July 1983 atrocities brought shock and dismay to the Tamil people especially to the then youth. It was a turning point in the liberation struggle, it saw the youth taking up arms in self-defence as it was seen as the only way of protecting our Tamil brethren from being the targets of these hate crimes, rapes, extra-judiciary killings and mass scale murders.
We have not seen any investigation of the 1956 Gal-oya riots, we have not seen it in the 1958 riots, we have not seen it in the 1977 riots, the 1981 burring of Jaffna Library, Black July 1983, the 2000 Bandarawela riots, the 2006 Trincomalee student killings and most currently we have not seen any international investigation of the Mullivaikaal genocidal massacres. To this day the government of Sri Lanka has not been held accountable for any of these atrocities.
These pogroms and massacres from 1956 to 2009 account for the on-going systematic genocide of the Tamils by the successive Sri Lankan regimes. Post-Mullivaikaal the atrocities have not ceased instead has taken on various other forms, such as sexual abuses on Tamil women and the illegal appropriation of Tamil owned land to name a few. These are aimed at eradicating the people and the Tamileelam nation that they represent.
It is therefore clear that a solution that falls within a unitary state of Sri Lanka will not free the Tamils from the oppression, abuse and systematic killings they are facing. The Tamils can only live freely in a dignified and just way when a sovereign state of Tamileelam is achieved.
The Tamil liberation flame and the aspiration for the Tamileelam homeland it represents, is now being carried resolutely by the Tamil youth, particularly those of the Tamil diaspora. That is me and you, this is him and her, that is us the second generation Tamils. It is now our duty to carry this liberation flame; it is our duty to continue working for our homeland and the sovereignty of our nation.
Today, as we mark the 30th year of the Black July anti-Tamil pogrom, we the Tamil Youth Organisation UK reaffirm that we will always follow the path of our Thalaivar and our Maaveerars.
We reaffirm that we will always stand firmly on our political aspirations as determined in the Vaddukottai Resolution of 1976.
And we absolutely reaffirm that we will uncompromisingly fight until an independent sovereign state of Tamileelam is achieved.
Thamilarin Thaagam TamilEela Thaayagam