Thirty three years after Black July: Where are we?

July 31, 2016

Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.

-Abraham Joshua Heschel

This year marks the 33rd anniversary of the unfortunate Black July. That incident entirely changed the country’s political landscape. It created a war that lasted for 30 years. Thousands of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim youth perished in that war. The country was deprived of intellectuals of the capacity of Dr Rajini Thiranagama and great politicians such as Lakshman Kadirgamar. It drove away foreign investors from this country. It paved the way for the collapse of the country’s economy.

President JR Jayewardene banned the JVP making use of the Black July. That decision resulted in further loss of thousands of lives of youth. Patriots such as Rohana Wijeweera and Sathyapala Wannigama lost their lives. The country’s democracy suffered irreparable damage.

It is the people of this country who suffered bitter experiences of Black July. Those who enjoyed positive outcomes of Black July were upper class politicians who could cling to power. Such politicians were from both the North and the South. Racism is always a death trap for the common people. It is in the same time an Aladdin’s lamp for politicians.

During the last couple of days, hundreds of JVP’s youth members were in Jaffna and Kilinochchi Districts. They participated in cultural programmes, literary festivals, art exhibitions, sports events, shramadana, medical clinics and going from house to house helping the people in those two districts. They extended their hand of brotherhood to their counterparts in the North. Tamil youth in the North too embraced them warmly. It was a new experience for all.

Northern Tamil youth of 20-25 years of age hitherto knew only a Sinhala soldier holding a rifle. They had no opportunity to meet anyone from the South bringing them art, literature, sports and education. This latest experience might have helped them that both groups were human beings with the same blood, irrespective of their language differences. That difference did not matter when the youth from the South were playing volleyball, drawing pictures, playing musical instruments and staging dances with the youth of the North.  They surely must have felt that their long lost kinsmen returned home after 30 years. It was Tamil fathers and mothers who provided shelter and food for the Sinhala youth during that visit. Sure some of those parents might have felt the loss of their children who either had been taken away by the LTTE or killed in the war. Tears might have been shed. Hearts might have been weighed down by sorrow. Tears of a mother of the North who lost her child and a mother of the South who lost her son in the war are same. It is not for their fault they shed those tears. It is the fault of rulers who divided them those people who lived together as a single nation in this land. Now seven years have passed since the end of the war. There is no spring in the North as we had been told by the rulers.

Though the A-9 route had been constructed there are no roads to go beyond to the villages. There are many roads covered in dust during sunny days and turn to be swamps during the rainy seasons because they have not been tarred. The TNA has been now given some power through the Northern Provincial Council to attend to those works and make the lives of people living there easier. The party could do something for the improvement of education, health, agriculture, fisheries industry and roads in the North. The provincial councils in the South make use of their powers to improve those sectors in their respective provinces.  However, the strategy being employed by the TNA is not to do any work, making use of whatever powers they have. They do not need police powers to develop the Kilinochchi hospital. The Northern Provincial Council does not need land powers to develop the rural roads in the North. Yet the aim of the TNA is to do nothing to convince people that they needed more powers to do such works. The Director of the Kilinochchi General Hospital who is also a pediatrician fights a solo battle to develop the hospital. She is hindered by the politician of that electorate. What those hinderers want is to show is that the government in Colombo doing nothing for those people. The reason for that neglect is owing to nothing but simply because those people are Tamil. Their motive is somehow to save their MP Post or provincial council member seat at the cost of the suffering of their people. We should take the lead in defeating this racist power gamble in both the North and the South.


Dr Nalinda Jayatissa

JVP MP, Kalutara District


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