Black July

illustration by Joshua McMaster 

-July 1983-

The Sri Lankan government ordered the bodies of the 13 Sinhalese patrol men of Four Four Bravo to be brought down to the capital city of Colombo for a mass public funeral. After the Sinhalese people observed the bodies of these soldiers, riots erupted in the streets. Before, the ethnic conflict seemed to be contained within the northern region of Sri Lanka, near the Jaffna Peninsula. However, this marked one of the first times violence occurred in the southern region of Sri Lanka, which was considered one of the safer and more stable parts of the country at that time. Instead, Sinhalese rioters targeted Tamil families, burning down houses, flipping cars and murdering people in the street. Any family with a Tamil last name was in danger. Riots began to spread from Colombo to other parts of the country, and over seven days mobs pursued Tamils. Black July was the start of the horror that would become the Sri Lankan Civil War.