My name is
Rex Albert. I am an accountant by profession and I was living in
Wattala (Alwis Town) with my wife, daughter and my in-laws. I worked
at St. Anthony's Industries as a Cost accountant and I remember
the dreaded July 25, 1983 very well. This was the day that changed
our life for ever.
On that day, there
were rumours about troubles brewing in Colombo and the suburbs.
As usual, my company vehicle came to pick me up and I went to
work. Around noon, the Finance Manager of the company informed
me that there were a lot of troubles in Colombo and that most
of the Tamil homes, shops and businesses were being burnt and
looted. He also witnessed Tamils being attacked and murdered.
Since he was a Sinhalese, he did not want to stay in the office
as the company belonged to a Tamil. He asked all the employees
to leave the premises as soon as possible.
On my way back home, there was a mob standing outside the factory
which was threatening to come inside and attack the office and
the factory. As we proceeded past them, we were stopped by the
thugs and interrogated whether there were any Tamils inside the
vehicle.My driver was a Sinhalese and there were two other Sinhalese
officers were with me so I was able to get home without any problem.
On my way back home, I saw several cars belonging to Tamils were
set on fire. Some Tamil passengers in a public transport bus were
taken out and assaulted in the presence of Police officers who
were mere spectators. They did nothing to stop the mob from attacking
the Tamils or burning the cars.
evening, there was big commotion outside our home. Armed thugs
with the list of Tamil homes in that area started to attack and
burn the Tamil homes. When they came near our house, we ran to
our neighbour's house and spent the whole night in their house
locked up in a room. Though they were Sinhalese, they were also
scared for their own lives as weill since they were safeguarding
us in their home. We could see our house go up in flames and the
asbestos roof bursting like fire crackers. That noise is still
vividly fresh in our minds and we can never forget that moment.
next morning, we were able to get in touch with a friend of ours
who was in the Armed Forces. He escorted us to the Colombo Hindu
College Camp. If I remember right, we were in the camp for more
than a week. It was real chaos. There were so many people and
there were big line up for food, wash-room etc. We could not sleep
or for that matter do anything constructive during those days.
There were so many people with injuries narrating their escape
from the hooligans. During the stay at the camp, my one year old
daughter contacted diarrhea. She could not eat or drink and was
de-hydrating. One of my friends who came to see us at the camp
volunteered to take my daughter to a nearby hospital and she was
on saline for the next two weeks.In the mean-time my mother and
my in-laws were able to board a bus and catch the next cargo ship
that was leaving to Jaffna with the Tamils who were affected by
daughter got better after couple of weeks and I was able to send
my wife and her to Jaffna via an Air-force plane. With the help
of my friend, I came to Canada. My wife and the daughter joined
me in Canada in November of that year. It has been almost twenty-five
years ever since and my wife refuses to set foot in Sri-Lanka
again as the memories are too painful. I was there in 1994 for
eight days due to some work commitments, if not I would have never
gone back to that country. The killings of innocent Tamils still
continue, as long as the power hungry Sinhalese politicians show
their venom in promoting communal violence. It will take a miracle
for the Tamils and Sinhalese to live in harmony.
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