CONTINUED ATTACKS ON
TAMILS - JULY/AUGUST 1981
August (1981) incidents of violence centred on three specific areas: the gem mining area
of Ratnapura, Negombo near the capital city of Colombo, and the plantation towns in
central Sri Lanka. Before the violence was brought under control... at least 10 Indian
Tamils had been killed, numerous Tamil shops and businesses burned, and more than 5000
Indian Tamils had fled to refugee camps...
It was widely reported that attacks in Negombo as well as an attack against passengers
on a Jaffna to Colombo train were made by organised gangs. Tamil sources stated that it
could not be ruled out that people close to the government were behind the organised
They also claimed that the police and the army did not intervene to prevent attacks until
the declaration of the state of emergency many days after the attacks began..."
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
''It is clear that subsequent violence in July and August, which was directed
against Sri Lanka Tamils in the east and south of the country, and... Tamil estate workers
in the central region, was not random.
It was stimulated, in some cases organised, by members of the ruling UNP, among them
intimates of the President.
In all 25 people died, scores of women were raped, and thousands were made homeless,
losing all their meagre belongings. But the summer madness, which served the dual purpose
of quietening Tamil calls for Eelam, that is a separate state, and taking the minds of the
Sinhala electorate off a deepening economic crisis is only one of the blemishes on the
face of the island.
Since Jayawardene came to power four years ago, a system of what his critics call
'State Terrorism' has brought an Ulster style situation in the Tamil majority areas of the
north and the east...
Hundreds have been detained without charge or trial. This year at least 156 Tamil youths
have been detained and tortured, then released. Thirty five are still held at Colombo's
Panagoda Army Camp. Human rights workers, Sinhalese as well as Tamil, told me that the
most favoured tortures are hanging prisoners upside down on heaps of burning chillies and
inserting needles under their finger nails.'' - Brian Eads, London Observer, 20
''In April and May 1981 some 30 members of the Tamil minority were arrested without
warrant and held incommunicado following a bank raid in Neervely in which two policemen
were killed... On 30 April and 11 June Amnesty International expressed its concern to
President Jayawardene about these reports and urged him to allow all detainees immediate
access to lawyers and relatives... At the end of 1981, 22 were still held without charge
or trial in Panagoda Army camp; five in solitary confinement...
Amnesty subsequently received allegations that all the detainees had been tortured.
Habeas Corpus applications of four detainees resulted in their first court appearance...
In its judgment on these petitions the Appeal Court ruled that torture and ill treatment
had occurrred in two cases...'' - Amnesty International Report, 1982