Black July is a month remembered for the pogrom unleashed by the Sri Lankan government of the day against Eelam Tamils in July 1983. Though regimes have changed several times since the British left in 1948, Sri Lanka state continues to be engaged in a systematic campaign of genocide against the Eelam Tamil nation in their traditional homeland, encompassing the north and east of the island now known as Sri Lanka. While remembering the victims of the events of July 1983, Eelam Tamils will call for suspension of the Sinhala state from the Olympics and urge the international community to take necessary measures to halt the genocide.
Eelam Tamils are a nation of people with their historic homeland in the north and east of the island now known as Sri Lanka. The once proud people, who as a nation exercised sovereignty over their land, have been kept in servitude since European colonial powers set foot on the island in the 16th century. After the British departed in 1948, the Eelam Tamil nation has been under the occupation of the neighbouring Sinhala nation and subjected to a protracted, systematic campaign of genocide by the ruling Sinhalese who are mired in‘Mahavamsa mindset’ ideology that dictates the entire island is the sole property of the the Sinhala-Buddhists alone.
The state sponsored anti-Tamil pogroms of July 1983 that left more than 4, 000 Tamils dead was a low-point of that period on the depths to which Sri Lanka state had sunk. It was not the first instance in the crime of genocide against Eelam Tamils; as time has proven, it had not been last either: ten times as many Eelam Tamils were killed by the Sri Lankan military in a matter of weeks in May 2009; more than 147, 000 others were made to disappear in the period between September 2009 and May 2009.
The 29th anniversary of Black July will be remembered outside the Olympic Stadium in Stratford from 4pm to 7pm on Sunday, 22 July. Eelam Tamils and their friends gathered will urge the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to suspend Sri Lanka from the Olympics and the UK government to ban Sri Lankan state officials from visiting either the opening or closing ceremonies.
Alongside, political activist Gobi Sivanthan will start a hunger-strike vigil that is to last until the Olympics closing ceremony on 12 August. Following the remembrance events, from 7.30pm on 22 July, Mr Sivanthan will be pitched next to the Stratford High Street DLR station.
Mr Sivanthan has put forth five key demands to the IOC, UN and international community of states:
- IOC, suspend Sri Lanka from the Olympics – As a state engaged in the crime of genocide, Sri Lanka is not fit to participate in games that are supposed to be a celebration of humanity. London 2012 hopes to ‘inspire a generation’; the participation of a state that has exterminated generations of Eelam Tamils is wholly inappropriate.
- UN, initiate independent international investigation into war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by Sri Lanka – In March 2011 a UN Experts Panel reported that the 2009 invasion by Sri Lanka of a de-facto state governed by Eelam Tamils in their homeland was a grave assault on the entire regime of international law. It recommended a UN investigation into all violations of international law. Not only the more than 40, 000 killed and 147, 000 disappeared in 2009, but every Eelam Tamil killed in the genocide from 1948, including July 1983, deserves justice.
- International Community, force Sri Lanka to halt the genocidal land grabs intensifying in the Tamil homeland – Since 1948 the Sinhala state has been implementing strategic colonisation programmes. These have been designed to change the demography and challenge the territorial integrity of the Tamil Homeland. This year has witnessed an intensified campaign of land grabs in the forms of military cantonments, Sinhala settlements and inappropriate, extractive industrialisation. The greed of certain corporations is not only robbing people of their natural resources but is forming alliances with the Sinhala state to culminate in the genocide of Eelam Tamils. The survival of the nation hinges on its right to its land.
- International Community, force Sri Lanka to release all Eelam Tamil prisoners of war (POWs) – The de-facto state governed by Eelam Tamils in their homeland was defended by forces on land, sea and air. In 2002, they entered into an international treaty known as the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) on parity status under international auspices. When the Sri Lankan military intensified its assault in 2009, the international community urged the Eelam Tamil defence forces to surrender. Since then, more than 10, 000 men and women have been incarcerated without official POW status and without access even to the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC). All Eelam Tamil POWs should be repatriated to their homeland in accordance with the Geneva conventions.
- International Community, do not deport Eelam Tamil asylum seekers – Many thousands of Eelam Tamils have been forced out of their homeland in desperate bids to preserve their lives. The refusal of India and other states in the region to sign the 1951 refugee convention and its 1967 protocol has forced Eelam Tamil refugees to flee as farther afield as Australia, Canada and Europe. While the Eelam Tamil nation is subjected to genocide in its homeland, no state should deport any Eelam Tamil asylum seekers to the clutches of the Sri Lankan military.
Mr Sivanthan and the Tamil Coordinating Committee UK call upon all concerned to participate in the remembrance event and the continuous vigil to help halt the genocide of Eelam Tamils.
Gobi Sivanthan, Activist
Tamil Coordinating Committee UK, Event Coordinators