[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
Ethnic cleansing of Tamils
After the 1983 riots, the South of the country became almost devoid of Tamils.
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2009 18:02 GMT

Riots caused the death of thousands of Tamils and forced many more to flee to India [GALLO/GETTY]

The targeting of Sri Lankan Tamils by Sinhalese mobs over a number of years was the single biggest precipitating factor of the Sri Lankan civil strife.

These riots caused the death of thousands of Tamils and forced hundreds of thousands to flee to India and led to the loss of millions of rupees worth of property. Here is a short list of some of the more severe riots -

• 1956 saw the first of the anti-Tamil riots when a large Sri Lankan mob broke up a peaceful Tamil protest against the Sinhala Only Act. This was followed by targeted attacks on the Tamils in the rest of the island.

• 1958 saw another wave of anti Tamil riots in which about 200 Tamils were murdered, thousands assaulted and Tamil property looted. This forced over  25,000 Tamil refugees to relocated to the North.

• The elections of 1977 which saw the Tamil United Liberation Front victorious in the Tamil dominated areas was followed by another series of anti-Tamil riots, which later enquiries revealed were organised and pre-planned.

• In the bloody riots of 1983, Sinhalese mobs looted and torched many buildings in Jaffna, the most important of which was the Jaffna Public Library. This was an unforgivable sacrilege in Tamil eyes as many rare documents and numerous culturally important and irreplaceable manuscripts were lost. Hundreds if not thousands were killed in these riots and the refugees who fled to India numbered in their hundreds of thousands.

After the 1983 riots, the South of the country became almost devoid of Tamils. Of those that remained, many "forcibly disappeared" in the next 25 years, giving credence to the claim of ethnic cleansing of Sri Lankan Tamils.

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.