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Sinnadurai Nithiananthan

In 1983, during the Black July, I had two kids. One was 4 years old and the other one was only 6 months old. We bought a house in Mount Lavinia in 1981. And we continued to live there.

A friend of ours informed us that there were some problems in Borella [on July 24th]. But we didn’t take this seriously; we never imagined that it would end up like this. [On July] 25th morning, I stayed at home because of this information. They imposed a curfew by 1:30pm which

was announced on the radio. By 1:40pm, some of the houses on the other street burning. And on the radio, they announced that there are lot of disturbances in the city and that the government would bring in civil law to quieten the situation – but it was not correct.

On the 25th – we closed our curtains so that others didn’t know that Tamils are inside. We were living like in a prison cell. Our daughter kept asking so many questions, asking why had it to be the way we were. We had to sometimes close her mouth so she would not shout in Tamil. At the time, we were scared to speak in Tamil. We were scared to use our own mother tongue.

On the 25th night, they announced on the radio that there are refugee camps set up in few temples, churches and schools. The same night we again got some threats from the mobs surrounding us. They came [to our house] but they didn’t do anything to us but they were yelling. In Sinhala, they would yell: All the Tamils should leave this city. So we had a fear because I had children and a family. We decided to move on the 26th morning to the camp to protect ourselves.

On July 26th, we were threatened by some of the mob surrounding the neighbourhood. We were forced to leave the house. We left the house with the help of some neighbours. The refugee camp was in Colombo Hindu temple in front of Bambalapitiya Flats. We were terrified to see all of our friends and our community, mostly all Tamils, were injured and crying. They mostly had lost everything and it was a pathetic scene. At the refugee camps the sanitary conditions were very poor and the food was also not very healthy. With the help of some of our friends, we were able to survive. In the nights, with my children, I had to go out and sleep under the tree – which was also not very safe. We were there nearly, altogether 6 days. Black Friday was the terrible day - we had some of our friends who left the camp to buy some food, never returned back. Later, we came to know that they were killed.

Around 1pm, there was a truck with mobs. They came to attack the camps also. Luckily, they went back. There were a lot of crying and screaming. We still have the scenes in our memory -very bad memory. And finally on the 6th day, we were transported to Kangesanthurai by a cargo ship with my family. As soon as we reached there, my son who was only 6 months old had terrible diarrhoea and we thought we were going to lose him also. By god’s grace, we were able to slowly recover and we came back to Colombo in 1984.

Black July has had very bad impact on us. The wounds have no way to heal from this. Some of my friends became depressed and others lost very young children.

Mr. Sinnadurai Nithiananthan and his family moved to Canada in 1986.

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