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WHO SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE
FOR THE 1983 JULY INCIDENT?
It has become necessary to re-examine the true nature of the 1983 July
incident to find out who had the power to prevent the riots at the first sign of
trouble, therefore who should bear the full responsibility for not arresting the
incident at its inception. At, present the blame is vested on the Sinhalese in
It has been said, “the power of Authority carries the burden of
responsibility”. Therefore, it is necessary first to ascertain who had the
power during that time and to what extent to take preventive measures to stop
the spread of riots? Also why certain groups of people were compelled to
initiate certain measures by themselves as a reaction to the action of the LTTE,
which was said to have been done to sabotage the peace talks called by the
government, a few weeks prior to the incident. President J.R Jayawardana as an
executive president had 5/6 majority in Parliament to draw support for any
political decision, hence he had near absolute political power at that time.
Therefore, in theory he should bear the full responsibility for that incident.
President JRJ he is no more to answer any questions and to face any punishments
in the event he had no acceptable excuse. Therefore, the responsibility is
automatically transferred to others in his government. This is the normal
procedure in any governmental structure.
It is also true that there were no members in Parliament during that time
who could call the President and asked him to do something about it. They feared
him so much during his rule. But that was no excuse for the rest of the cabinet
ministers in his government to be relieved from the responsibility for not
taking any steps to prevent the riots at its inception.
However, there was one person who could have reached him without getting
scolded and could have asked him, Uncle don’t you think that this incident
could do an enormous damage to the image of the country? He was the then
education minister and now the opposition leader – Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe.
Therefore, the question now arises as to what was he doing at that time. A fair
guess would be that he must have been watching the riots in the TV.
Also there were 16 TULF members in Parliament but none resigned in
protest and they were the elected representatives of the Tamil community that
was subjected to severe harassment by the Sinhala thugs. They too must have been
watching the incident in the TV.
Therefore, there was clear
evidence that those who had the power of authority were completely silent during
the riots. Does that mean that everybody else also should have maintained his or
her silence? The then government was elected by the people exercising their
right of franchise under the so-called democracy.
When members of your community get killed by the Terrorists from another
community and when the elected representatives are silent, then should all the
members of that community maintain its silence? What would be the out come if
all maintain their silence? The result would be that the terrorist will get the
confidence to unleash more attacks and the Tamils would get confidence to harass
the Sinhalese in day-to-day life.
The truth is that a vast majority of people did maintained their silence
and only certain groups of people resorted to violence because certain groups
wanted to exploit the situation for their personal gain and for some due to
justifiable reasons. Recently, during the riots in Egypt, many poor people
ransacked shops and super markets not because the super market owners were rich
During July 83, the poor people’s excuse to ransack the shops was the
Tamil terrorist attack upon their community. Can anybody say, had this been a
Tamil country then the situation would have been any different? Therefore,
excuses to unleash riots differ from incident to incident. The people who took
part in the riots can be categorized into the following groups.
First group was the people lived in the streets of Colombo without a proper job
and always striving for their day to day existence even by pick pocketing,
extortion and by other illegal activities. Did they
the Tamil shops and
loot them just because they were Tamil shops? That group would have attacked any shop
under a chaotic situation.
The second group may have connected to the petty trade. Why did they want to
attack their fellow Tamil traders who do business with them everyday?
The reason for that was because no retaliatory response in the form of
military action by the elected representatives. Had there been no riots, then
the Tamil traders could have forced most Sinhala petty traders out of Colombo
and created a no go area for the Sinhalese. Such Muslim areas do exist at
present where the slightest incident means Sinhalese are getting beaten badly.
The third group mostly again consists of ordinary people that took part in riots
because they too realized that no action means a meek life thereafter. Their
logic was that unless we teach them a lesson, we would not be able to live in
this country. Starting from home, to neighborhood and to a village, when
somebody threatens another person, then if the victim does not retaliate, what
would be the result thereafter? The victim will have to face constant pressure
for the rest of his life. In life it is either fight or flight. In the case of
dogs, the weaker one has to stick his tail between his legs. In human conflicts
the same rules apply.
The fourth group was an unknown group that cannot be categorized for certainty
but believed to be UNP thugs because, a few years ago a group of gangsters have
said that it was they who attacked the Tamils in 83.
COMMUNITY’S RESPONSE TO THE 1983 JULY RIOTS
The riots against Tamils occurred during the UNP regime and the then UNP
government did nothing to save the Tamils for about five days. Yet strangely,
the Tamils continue to vote for the UNP. In the election results even up to the
last Local Government election; Ranil was their favorite leader. The leader who
watched TV when the Tamils were attacked. In comparison, the SLFP never attacked
Tamils but Tamils never look at them except during the Presidential election
1994 when Chandrika was contested.
Therefore, why do Tamils like those who beat them up? The reason is as
follows. The Tamils construe that them getting beaten by the UNPers are a
blessing in disguise for their community. The LTTE attacked Dalada Maligawa in
order to provoke the Sinhalese and to get the Sinhala thugs to beat the Tamils.
The Tamil community knew the LTTE’s motive very well very but their support
for the LTTE never diminished. The truth is that the Tamil community was and is
willing to make that sacrifice in order to get the international sympathy for
their Eelam project. Therefore, all in all, 1983 July riots was a gift from
heaven for the Tamil community in this country. That helped them to move to the
west with ease and settle there. The so-called Diaspora (economic migrants) we
see today is they and their descendents. Therefore,
the Tamil community is forever grateful for the UNP, hence they vote Ranil to
pay their sincere gratitude for watching TV instead of saving them. So much for
their grievances now elevated to aspirations.
THE TAMIL COMMUNITY HERE AND THE TAMIL DIASPORA
COLLECTIVELY A PARTY TO THE LTTE WAR CRIMES
Sinhalese rioted against the Tamil community in July 83 under provocation &
duress. There were no
pre-mediated actions to do any harm to them by ordinary
was well known that the vast majority of Tamils supported the LTTE
cause and most
elders were saying, “Our boys are doing a good job”. That means killing
Sinhalese was a good thing for the Tamil elders consist of Priests, Professors,
lawyers, engineers, artists est. There was a group of Professors who were
dedicated to the LTTE cause justifying the LTTE Eelam project through terrorism.
Some pensioners were crediting their entire pension to the LTTE funds and the
wealthiest were channeling vast amounts of money to the LTTE coffers. Therefore,
the Tamil community in this country was part and parcel of the war crimes that
the LTTE committed; hence the bulk of the Tamil community is indirectly guilty
for the LTTE War crimes. A Tamil does not have to be battle-hardened fighter to
be part of the war crimes.
COLLECTIVE GUILT OF THE SINHALESE
Not a single Sinhala Buddhist monk, a professor, a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer or an artist took part in the JULY83 riots to harm the Tamils instead some protected them. But today almost all of them are suffering from a collective guilt for something that did not do. A guilt that has been forced upon them by the very politicians who did not take any preventive measures to stop it, when they had the power to do it.
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