INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA
TAMIL PARLIAMENTARIANS ATTACKED
BY SINHALA MOBS & 150 TAMILS KILLED - 1956
human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one
shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life." - Article 6.1, International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights
"What happened on 6 June 1956 when the Sinhala Only Bill was being debated in
Parliament? The members of the Federal Party, exercising their undoubted constitutional
right, wanted to protest against the imposition of (the Sinhala Only) Bill. The Members of
the Federal Party said that they would sit in silence on the Galle Face Green... It was a
silent protest which they were entitled to make. They were seated there on the Galle Face
Green, and Parliament was sitting solemnly listening to the Prime Minister. Troops and
police were drawn round the place.
What happened? Hooligans, in the very precincts of Parliament House, under the very nose
of the Prime Minister of this country, set upon those innocent men seated there, bit their
ears and beat them up mercilessly. Not one shot was fired while all this lawlessness to
persons were let loose... Why?
Orders had been given: 'Do not shoot, just look on.' Thereafter on that day, 6
June, every Tamil man was set upon and robbed. He was beaten up. His fountain pen and
wristlet were snatched away. He was thrashed mercilessly, humiliated and sent home. The
police were looking on while all this was happening before their very eyes.
Shops were looted... but the police did nothing... Why did that happen? All that happened
because specific instructions had been given to the police that they should not shoot,
should not arrest, should not deal with the lawlessness and disorder that was let loose...
rowdies and hooligans were given a free hand to assault, humiliate and rob any innocent
Tamil walking the roads on that day. That was the attitude taken up by a Cabinet composed
of Sinhalese Ministers...
These (hooligans) were instigated by some members of Parliament... they were heading
the gang of hooligans. The Prime Minister made a remarkably wonderful speech on that
occasion. He came, he smiled and he told the crowd, "Don't do that. Rain is coming
down. They will be cooled in no time." That was the type of appeal he made.
Sinhalese men were being thrashed by Tamils and their ears bitten, I wonder whether the
Prime Minister would have adopted the same attitude." -
Q.C., Sri Lanka Senate Hansard 4 June 1958
"On 5th June 1956, the date the 'Sinhala Only' Bill was introduced by (Prime
Minister) Bandaranaike in the House (of Parliament), as an act of protest, Chelvanayakam,
the leader of the Federal Party, led a party of 300 Tamil volunteers and staged a sit down
Satyagraha (peaceful protest) of the kind popularised by Mahatma Gandhi in the days of the
Indian freedom struggle.
It was a peaceful sit down protest outside the House, on the Galle Face Green... On that
day, the police were all around but allowed the Satyagrahis to be beaten up... Some Tamil Satyagrahis were thrown into Beira Lake near the
Parliament House. From that moment every Tamil seen on roads of Colombo was attacked.
Tamil office employees going home from work in public transport were caught and
man-handled. Tamils had to stay indoors for personal safety for days on end.
Sinhalese hooligans took charge of the situation and went on a rampage of arson and
looting of Tamil shops and homes. The rioting and violence were instigated by the
government and actively supported by the Sinhalese organisations and Bhikkus (Buddhist
priests) to frighten Tamils into accepting the 'Sinhala Only' Act...
The violence and rioting spread to Gal Oya and Amparai where, under an irrigation and
re-settlement scheme, thousands of Sinhalese had been resettled in clusters around thinly
distributed Tamil villages in the Eastern province. In the race riots in 1956, 150
people died. They included many Tamil women and children..." -
Ponnambalam: Sri Lanka - The National Question and the Tamil Liberation Struggle, Zed
Books Ltd, 1983