Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sri Lanka: Sinhalese started civil war on Tamils

Wisdom Quarterly; BBC News (bbc.co.uk, July 23, 2013)
Lush, subtropical Sri Lanka ("holy land"): Lion's Rock, Sigiriya (hellotravel.com)
Majority Sinhalese mob violence devastation (AP/BBC.co.uk)
Sri Lanka (left), Theravada Buddhist map
EDITORIAL: In America we were raised to believe the majority Buddhist Sinhalese were innocent victims of minority Hindu Tamil extremism. But it never added up. Prime Ministers were revealed to be supporting the insurgency to attack it, kill many, and gain police state controls over the island's population. Our own visits to the island also showed that the Tamils were an oppressed ethnic minority mistreated by soldiers, police, and secret agents -- family members disappeared, females attacked, whole families slaughtered. The blood would run for three decades with hypocrisy on the Sinhalese side, nationalism and racism (xenophobia) running rampant, Buddhist monks becoming involved against all the Buddha's admonitions, British post-colonialism adding to the fire, and an endless series of attacks and retaliations by a dominant group wielding almost all of the power against an oppressed group and the holocaust that followed resulting in a giant camp into which Tamils were concentrated in the final putsch of the civil war, now put to rest Asia's longest civil war.

Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka (hellotravel.com)
(BBC) Thirty years ago, Tamil separatists stepping up militant attacks in northern Sri Lanka killed 13 soldiers [in retaliation for countless abuses] who reported for duty only a day earlier.

Over the next few days, [inciting to riot and using this killing as a pretext] mobs of the Sinhalese majority took revenge, killing between 400 and 3,000 Tamils around the country and triggering a civil war that lasted 26 years and [forced] hundreds of thousands of Tamils into exile. 
Tamil Jaffna, Sinhalese Colombo (BBC)
The BBC's Charles Haviland reports on the legacy of what came to be known as "Black July."
In the stillness of a Colombo [the capital of Sri Lanka] afternoon, as a clock chimes three, an elderly woman looks back 30 years and remembers.

"There was a first mob of about 80-odd young guys with iron rods and things. They were in a frenzy, obviously under the influence of alcohol; they smashed up [Tamil businesses and homes], and then came the next lot to loot."
"Priya Balachandran" -- the BBC has changed her name as she prefers anonymity -- recalls the time Colombo and much of southern Sri Lanka seemed gripped by madness
[Sinhalese] Mob violence was wrought on [Tamil] people, most of whom had little idea what was happening in the north. Like other Tamils, Ms. Balachandran was on the receiving end.

Sharing lunch with her mother, son, and a Sinhalese neighbor, she saw shops ablaze over the road and realised the mob were approaching.  

The war of 30 years has taught both sides equally, I think. They have gone through enough suffering.
- Priya Balachandran Member of the island's Tamil community

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