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Eelam War I
Part of the Sri Lankan Civil War
Date July 23, 1983 – July 29, 1987
Location Sri Lanka
Result Peace deal negotiated by India, and arrival of Indian Peacekeepers
Emblem of Sri Lanka.svg Military of Sri Lanka Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
Commanders and leaders
J.R. Jayewardene
Lt. Gen T. I. Weerathunga
Lt. Gen Nalin Seneviratne
Velupillai Prabhakaran

Eelam War I is the name given to the initial phase of the armed conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. Although tensions between the government and Tamil militant groups had been brewing since the 1970s, full scale war did not break out until an attack by the LTTE on a Sri Lanka Army patrol in Jaffna, in the north of the country, on July 23, 1983, which killed 13 soldiers. The attack, and the subsequent riots in the south (dubbed Black July), are generally considered as the start of the conflict. This fighting continued until 1985, when peace talks were held between the two sides in Thimphu, Bhutan, in hopes of seeking a negotiated settlement. They proved fruitless and fighting soon resumed.

By 1987, the Sri Lankan military had cornered the LTTE in Jaffna, on the tip of the island and were confident of bringing an end to the conflict. However, due to internal pressure, specifically concern about the 50 million Tamils living in India, the Indian government called for a halt to the offensive. After the request was snubbed by Sri Lanka, the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi ordered a flotilla of ships be sent to relieve the LTTE. After the convoy was blocked by the Sri Lanka Navy, India instead chose to airdrop supplies to the besieged city in a mission codenamed Operation Poomalai.[1]

Following the successful completion of the mission, and faced with the possibility of further involvement of the Indian military, including reports that Indian ground forces were being prepared for possible involvement in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka President J. R. Jayewardene held talks with the Indian government to resolve the dispute. As a result of the negotiations, the siege of Jaffna was lifted and the Indo-Sri-Lankan accord was signed on July 29, 1987. Sri Lankan troops then withdraw from the north of the country and handed over control over the entire area to Indian peacekeeping troops named the Indian Peace Keeping Force. This brought about an end to the first stage of the ethnic conflict.

Civilian killings[edit | edit source]

Black July[edit | edit source]

On July 24, the day the 15 servicemen killed in an LTTE ambush were to be buried, some Sinhalese civilians who had gathered at the cemetery, angered by news of the ambush, which was magnified by wild rumor,[2] formed mobs and started killing, raping, and assaulting Tamils, while looting and burning their properties in retribution for what happened. Sinhalese civilians were equipped with voter registration lists, burning and attacking only Tamil residences and business, while army and government officials stood by. Even Sinhalese civilians who harbored Tamil families in their households (or suspected of doing so) were set upon by the mobs.[3] It is estimated that at least 1,000[1] Tamil people were killed, tens of thousands of houses were destroyed, and a wave of Sri Lankan Tamils left for other countries

Kent and Dollar Farm massacres[edit | edit source]

The Kent and Dollar Farm massacres was one of the earliest massacres of Sinhalese civilian carried out by the LTTE during the Sri Lankan Civil War. The massacres took place on November 30, 1984, in two tiny farming villages in the district of Mullaitivu in north-eastern Sri Lanka. The LTTE had claimed that the North East of Sri Lanka was the exclusive homeland of Tamils, and began their campaign of ethnic cleansing in the 1980s. The Sinhalese of the Northern Province and Eastern Province of Sri Lanka suffered severe loss of lives and property as a result of numerous civilian massacres carried out by the LTTE for the purpose of ethnically cleansing the North East of Sri Lanka.

Anuradhapura massacre[edit | edit source]

The Anuradhapura massacre is an incident on May 14, 1985, in which LTTE cadres massacred 146 Sinhalese men, women and children in Anuradhapura. The LTTE hijacked a bus and entered Anuradhapura. As the LTTE cadres entered the main bus station, they opened fire indiscriminately with automatic weapons killing and wounding many civilians who were waiting for buses. LTTE cadres then drove to the Buddhist Sri Maha Bobhi shrine and gunned down nuns, monks and civilians as they prayed inside the Buddhist shrine. This incident was designed to provoke massive retaliation by the Sinhalese majority against the Tamils in order to strengthen the LTTE's position among the Tamil people.

Before they withdraw, the LTTE strike force entered the national park of Wilpattu and killed 18 Sinhalese in the forest reserve.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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