On Black July, I was 3 years old

Natalie Soysa Thirty years ago today, on Black July, I was 3 years old. I doubt I even knew what the difference between Sinhalese or Tamil or Muslim meant at the time. I am angered that the 30 years since has taught me otherwise. I’ve spent the last 6 weeks, working with Sachini Perera who invited me to be a part of the ’30 Years Ago’ initiative that Groundviews had commissioned her for. Our specific project covers the stories of over 40 women we have been photographing and interviewing together. The experience has been a process of growth and insight …

Home

Tehani Ariyaratne This is the view from my home. 30 years ago, I was not even alive but if I had stood in this same place, looking in this same direction, I would have seen the black smoke choking the air, perhaps seen flames rising from building and cars; I would have heard the screams of the tortured and the victorious cheers of the mob; my nose would perhaps have filled with the acrid smell of burning rubber and wood, and I would stepped indoors, into the safety my ethnicity afforded me. For the last two months now I have …

Much left to untangle yet

Sachini Perera I took this photo 4 years ago, on the 18th of May 2009. On a day when I was out of words and could just about manage to write on my blog, much left to untangle yet. On a day when I had reached a boiling point at a home whose politics were not my politics. On a day I felt disconnected from the jubilation pervading the country. I’m reposting it today, on the 23rd of July 2013. It has been 30 years since Black July. Black July | කලු ජූලිය  Familiar words though I was born 3 years after …

Thirty years ago, today

Iromi Perera Mullaitivu, Sri Lanka, May 2013. Seshanka Samarajiva for The Picture Press Thirty years ago today, my parents were heroes. Until yesterday, I didn’t even know this. My mother who worked in Fort back then, saw buildings going up in smoke, tyres burning and the chaos. Her Tamil colleagues were given priority office transport and sent home first. One colleague, a Tamil lady with a nose ring and a large pottu refused to take it off despite everyone urging her to do so – for her own safety. My mother and her boss decided that it would be best if they …

I Wasn’t Around in ‘83

Anushka Wijesinha Meemure village, Sri Lanka, June 2013. Aamina Nizar for The Picture Press. “No one came to the house”, he said, “but I did get threatening phone calls in the middle of the night”. With so many Tamils staying in his house, I had asked him whether people came home to threaten him. I spent my morning today (July 23rd) with my grand uncle, Sam Wijesinha, a former Secretary General of Parliament and a veritable encyclopedia of information. I wasn’t around in ’83 and as we marked thirty years today, I was keen to hear from someone who was. …

The absolute silence at home: July, 1983

Tanuja Thurairajah Photo by P. Vijayashanthan The most vivid memory of violent conflict for me has been from July 23, 1983. I was 7 years old then, the same age as my twins today. Each time a word, something I read or hear takes me back to that day, the first image I see in my mind’s eye are white-streams from broken milk bottles on the black tarred roads, as my uncle drove us home from school. It was the longest journey back home and at that age there was no fear, only bewilderment. Once I got home everything was …

Silk sarees

Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai As I recall “Black July” 1983 on 23rd July 2013, 30 years have quickly passed by, but my memories of  “Black July” remain fresh and intact in my heart. On a Saturday morning, we heard the news about an ambush (13 army soldiers were killed) in Thirunelvely, Jaffna Peninsula on 23rd July 1983. As a family discussed the serious matter in detail. Following the official funeral of the 13 soldiers in Kanatte Cemetery in Colombo on 24th July 1983 (Sunday evening), we have received numerous phone calls via our land phone about the beginning of the pogrom on …

A card

Shanika Perera Click here for a larger version. ### First published on Groundviews on 23rd July 2013.

A moonlit walk

Devaka Seneviratne July 1983 was four years after I was born. Like many in my generation who were not directly affected by the events that took place, memories are hazy and disjointed. Black July is mostly remembered by faint memories such as the closing up of Lanka Medicals in Kandy, a shop that in those early days had a steady stock of Matchbox ‘dinky’ cars. My Uncle’s house in Bandarawela where we would spend holidays, had a neighbor whose car was set on fire. As a Sinhalese it is something that has at the back of my mind, made me …