all towns are
one, all men our kin.
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DESTRUCTION OF JAFFNA
"...a large group of police (estimated variously from 100-200) went on rampage on the nights of May 31-June 1 (1981) and June 1-2 burning the market area of Jaffna, the office of the Tamil Newspaper, the home of the member of Parliament for Jaffna and the Jaffna Public Library... The widespread damage in Jaffna as a result of the actions of the police were evident during the visit of the ICJ observer in Jaffna in August...
The destruction of the Jaffna Public Library was the incident which appeared to cause the most distress to the people of Jaffna. The ICJ observer heard many comments from both Sinhalese and Tamils concerning the senseless destruction by arson of this most important cultural centre in the Tamil area.
The Movement for Inter-racial Justice and Equality sent a delegation to Jaffna to investigate the June occurrences. The delegations report, in referring to the arson of the Public Library, stated, If the Delegation were asked which act of destruction had the greatest impact on the people of Jaffna, the answer would be the savage attack on this monument to the learning and culture and the desire for learning and culture of the people of Jaffna... There is no doubt that the destruction of the Library will leave bitter memories behind for many years....
The 95,000 volumes of the Public Library destroyed by the fire included numerous culturally important and irreplaceable manuscripts... The government should lead a major national and international effort to rebuild and develop the Jaffna Public Library destroyed by arson by police in June 1981. Such an effort would evidence the respect the government for the cultural rights of the Tamils, help to remedy a serious injustice done to the Tamil community and contribute to restoring Tamil confidence in the government...
A primary concern of the government should be the physical security of the minority Tamil population and the avoidance of future communal violence so frequently directed against Tamils in the past... In this regard the government should pursue a vigorous policy of investigation and prosecution of police officers responsible for the burning of many areas in Jaffna in May/June 1981". - Virginia Leary: Ethnic Conflict and Violence in Sri Lanka - Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists, July/August 1981
"With several high ranking Sinhalese security officers and two cabinet
ministers, Cyril Mathew and Gamini Dissanayake (both self confessed Sinhala supremacists),
present in the town (Jaffna), uniformed security men and plainclothes thugs carried out
some well organised acts of destruction.
''More than 100 shops have been broken, burnt, looted; market squares in Jaffna and
Chunnakam look as if they have been bombed in wartime; several houses have been looted and
badly damaged; the house of the MP for Jaffna has been reduced to ruins; several deaths
have occurred at the hands of the state armed personnel; the headquarters of the Tamil
United Liberation Front in the heart of Jaffna has been destroyed; the public library in
Jaffna - the second largest library in the island with over 90,000 volumes - has been
reduced to ashes.
"Today its rooms are thickly carpeted with half burnt pages, fluttering in the breeze which comes through broken windows. Inspecting the charred remains, I met a heart broken lecturer from the local teacher training college. 'The Sinhalese were jealous of the library, he said. 'I used to come here every day to prepare lectures and tutorials. Now I shall have to go to Colombo and some of these books aren't available even there'." - Francis Whelen, New Statesman and Nation, 17 July 1981, visiting Jaffna soon after the destruction of the Library
"It is regrettable that the government did not institute an independent investigation to establish responsibility for these killings (in May/June 1981) and take measures against those responsible. Instead, one police officer involved was promoted and emergency legislation was introduced facilitating further killings." - Orville H.Schell, Chairman of the Americas Watch Committee, and Head of the Amnesty International 1982 fact finding mission to Sri Lanka
''The TULF MPs took their battle into parliament. They moved a vote of no confidence in
the government, on the grounds that the May-June 1981 violence in Jaffna had been state
sponsored and carried out by Sinhalese Ministers and high ranking government officials
present on the spot.
"If there is discrimination in this land which is not their (Tamil) homeland,
then why try to stay here.Why not go back home (India) where there would be no
discrimination. There are your kovils and Gods.There you have your culture, education,
universities etc. There you are masters of your own fate....
"If we are governing, we must govern. If we are ruling, we must rule. Do not give into the minorities. We are born as Sinhalese and as Buddhists in this country. Though we are in a majority, we have been surrendering to the minority community for four years. Let us rule as a majority community". - Mrs. Wimala Kannangara M.P., Minister for Rural Development, in Sri Lanka's Parliament, July 1981
"Now, Sir... what should we do to this so called leader of the Tamils? If I were given the power, I would tie him to the nearest concrete post in this building and horsewhip him till I raise him to his wits. Thereafter let anybody do anything he likes - throw him into the Beire (lake) or into the sea, because he will be so mutilated that I do not think there will be life in him. That is war." - Mr.D.M. Chandrapala, Sinhala M.P. for Kundasale in Sri Lanka's Parliament, July 1981
"Since yesterday morning, we have heard in this honourable House about the various
types of punishment that should be meted out to them (Tamil Parliamentary leaders).