July 1983: Two Northern Attacks and One Island-wide Anti-Tamil Pogrom

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The fourth week of July revives bad memories among most Tamils who lived in Sri Lanka during the month of July in 1983. It was in that week in July that large-scale violence was let loose upon Tamils living in various parts of Sri Lanka including Colombo and suburbs.

“Black July 1983”

The week long spree of anti-Tamil violence saw over 4,000 Tamils and some Muslims – mistaken for Tamils – being killed. Thousands were injured. Some of the injured were killed in hospitals. There were close upon 300,000 displaced persons as a result. Around 130,000 of these were housed in makeshift refugee camps.

More than 2,500 business enterprises ranging from factories to petty boutiques were damaged or destroyed. The number of houses and dwellings and vehicles damaged or destroyed has not been fully estimated yet.

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