Lest We Forget: Massacres of Tamils – 1956 – 2001 Part I

Full Document


The State sponsored violence against the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka has a very long history. A startling aspect of this State violence is the large scale massacres of Tamils. Some of them are so spectacular that they are etched in the Tamil psyche. Prior to the signing of the February 2002 ceasefire agreement, there have been hundreds of such massacres. After a two year lull, the violent campaign by the military was relaunched in 2004. This report documents a selected number the massacres prior to the signing of the ceasefire agreement in 2002. Recording the massacres carried out since 2004 will be a separate project.

Each of the selected massacres is described briefly. The circumstances surrounding the massacre and an eyewitness account is provided where ever possible. It is important to remember that the eye witnesses only report what they saw. In reality one eye witness sees only a small part of the larger atrocity that is planned and carried out by the State forces.

A map is also included in the description of each massacre pinpointing the exact location of the incident. In many instances the local people remember the massacre by building a monument for those killed. Pictures of some of these monuments are also included in the pages. Names of those killed included in the last pages – (Page192 – Page237).

In order to report on the true context of each massacre a more in depth study requiring time and resources that currently the war torn Tamil community does not have is needed. Such an intensive task must be undertaken in the near future in order to set straight the distorted recent history of this island. Two such studies have been published by NESOHR. One is on the Mandaithivu disappearance in 1990 and the other is on the Piramanthanaru massacre. They can be downloaded from the NESOHR website. It is fair to say that even these reports are not complete in that it has not reported on each and every disappearance and killing by the State forces in that particular massacre. Such is the scale and cruelty of the State’s violations.

What follows is only a small step towards shining light on the blacked out human rights history of the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka.