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INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA

SINHALA ARMY ATTACKS TAMIL
SATYAGRAHIS - 1961


Mr.S.J.V. Chelvanayakam participating in a Satygaraha campaign in Trincomalee in 1961, with then parliamentarians ( R-L) Mr. Thambiah Ehambaram ( Muttur MP), Mr.N.R.Rajavarothiam ( Trincomalee MP).

Senator.S. Nadesan,Q.C. Sri Lanka Senate Hansard, 2 May 1961 (full text)

"...The voice of the representatives of the Tamil people has been virtually silenced. The military have been let loose on the Northern and Eastern Provinces and from all accounts are behaving - at any rate so far as the Jaffna Peninsula is concerned - as if they were a conquering army in occupation of enemy territory....

(In) the early hours of the 18th (of April) the military, without any warning and without informing the satyagrahis assembled at the Jaffna Kachcheri that an emergency had been declared, assaulted the men satyagrahis mercilessly, bundled the women satyagrahis into trucks and transported them. The military also vented their wrath on a large number of push bicycles and even on some motor cars parked at the Kachcheri gates.

If the reports are true, the army seems to have displayed considerable courage and valour in their attacks on unarmed 'satyagrahis and on inanimate objects like push bicycles! Certain Government quarters, I am told, believe that the Ceylon Army had covered itself with glory when, under the cover of darkness and armed with modern weapons, it routed a band of unarmed satyagrahis in what will go down in history as the "Battle of Jaffna"!... Immediately the "Battle of Jaffna" was over, the army proceeded to waylay and hit all and sundry on t he roads of Jaffna on the ground that they were breaking a curfew order, of which most of them were unaware."

So far as the population outside these areas were concerned, they were peaceful, non violent and attending to their normal work. Instead of this being done why was the army let loose on the entire population of the Jaffna peninsula?

Why was a curfew imposed? Why have the military on their own imposed a curfew even in villages where a curfew had not been declared? Why are the farmers of Jaffna who ordinarily go their fields in these hot days at 4 a.m. in the morning prevented from doing so till well after 6 a.m.? Why have the military been beating and thrashing innocent passers by on the streets of Jaffna?

Why have some of them been helping themselves to goods and articles in shops and asking the owners to send the bills to the Federal Party leader? Why have cars been commandeered as if a great military campaign was afoot? Why has petrol been issued on permits in Jaffna when there is enough petrol for everybody? Why have the military prevented people from having their lights on at night?... Why have they set fire to fences and madams and put the blame on the people?

Are these acts of organised terrorism and lawlessness the result of any orders given to the army to strike terror into the inhabitants of Jaffna so that they might give up their agitation for their language rights?

Today there is greater lawlessness in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and particularly in the Jaffna Peninsula than there has ever been at any time in its recent history - lawlessness by the guardians of the law...

If history teaches anything, it teaches us that national movements thrive on terrorism and repression - and the Ceylon army have by their conduct in the Jaffna Peninsula given an added impetus for the movement of a national minority to win its language rights. It must also be noted that the true solution to the problem facing Ceylon today cannot be found by resort to armed force."


Sinhala Opposition Member of Parliament, Edmund Samarakody, Hansard, 3 May 1961 on Prime Minister Mrs.Srimavo Bandaranaike & the Sinhala Army in Jaffna

"This is not a question of an army man here and there, after liquor, indulging in excess (in 1961 against Tamils in Jaffna). No, there is some plan, some purpose. There is an indication that they are going on instructions and preparing for some trouble because the purpose of the government in imposing an emergency and allowing army and navy personnel to behave in that fashion is to intimidate... the Tamil minority in this country. That is the fact. That is the purpose."

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