On the 33rd anniversary of the horrors of Black July 1983, the British Tamils Forum held a commemoration event at the Trinity Centre in London on 25th July 2016.
British Tamils, academics, community leaders, human rights activists and NGOs participated at this event to remember over 3000 innocent Tamil victims killed, many more thousands maimed and their homes and belongings looted or burnt in a state sponsored genocidal massacre in Sri Lanka.
The event was inaugurated with a vigil to remember the victims and the suffering they encountered in the hands of Sinhala mobs aided and abetted by the Sri Lankan state.
Following video witness accounts of the victims of Black July, a panel discussion was held, “Black July 1983 – Not the beginning but a continuation of Tamil Genocide” chaired by Shivani Jegarajah, Barrister at Mansfield Chambers, Ruki Fernando, Human Rights Defender Callum Macrae, Director of feature documentaries “No fire Zone” and Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” were among the panelists.
33 Years on, the victims of those pogroms still await justice as no one has been held to account for their deaths nor were the survivors compensated for their losses. The events of July 1983 in which, Sinhala marauders armed with machetes and electoral roll, searched and killed Tamil people in their homes and on the streets, are etched in permanent memory of all the Tamils.
The impunity with which crimes against the Tamil people continue was the main thread of the discussions. The continuing occupations of the Tamil Homeland by the Sri Lankan military, the mushrooming Buddhist temples across the length and breadth of the Tamil homeland and the denial of our people’s right to return to their own lands, were cited as evidence to the continuing Tamil genocide agenda of the Sri Lankan state.
The speakers reiterated the need to hold the Sri Lankan state to honour its commitment to the UN in allowing international judges into the war crimes inquiry. They opined that the Sri Lankan state cannot be allowed to conduct its own internal inquiry into the crimes it stands accused of committing against the Tamil people.
The British Tamils Forum sincerely thank the world leaders for sending “condolence messages” to the families of victims in the UK and around the world. As we remember the victims of repeated pogroms and the genocidal war that ended in May 2009, we pledge to continue the struggle for justice.