insurgents ambushed the same unit three days later, killing 13 soldiers inretaliation. When two of these soldiers were to be buried the following day,word spread amongst Colombo’s Sinhalese community that the ambushhad taken place. This news brought large Sinhalese gangs to the streets.Beginning in Colombo and quickly spreading throughout the country therioters sought the destruction of the Tamil community. Tamils were singledout in the street, chased and beaten or killed. One Norwegian touristwitnessed a bus of 20 Tamil civilians doused in petrol and set alight.The riots showed clear signs of prior planning and governmentcollaboration. The rioters were organised in groups who sought out Tamilhouses for destruction and appeared to have a detailed knowledge of wholived where and who worked at what business. This is because they hadgotten hold of, or more likely were given, voter lists, and so were able toprecisely identify their Tamil targets.Some politicians conceded government involvement. Others had directlyincited racial hatred. Industry Minister Cyril Matthew had for yearspublished a series of racist books and pamphlets about Tamils, many of which were used in schools and distributed at government expense. Alongwith other cabinet ministers Matthew organised and coordinated gangsboth before and during the pogrom. The then President Jayewardene wasquoted in the New York Times as conceding that members of his party hadencouraged the violence, rapes and murder that took place.The police and military were mostly reluctant to intervene and in casesparticipated in the killing. The pogram was allowed to happen because of “the active participation or passive encouragement of the ultimateguardians of law and order – the police and the army”, according toHistorian SJ Tambiah.These events, which are commemorated by Tamil communities in Australia,are not isolated instances that began and ended that week. The politicalcorruption and violent nationalism that lead to the pogrom continuestoday, even though the civil war proper has come to an end.Today, many Tamils continue to suffer. Human Rights Watch
earlier this year documenting the systematic use of rape againstTamil women in both official and secret prison camps. The abuse of civilians within the camps is
. The policy to forciblymove the internally displaced Tamils after the end of the war may actuallyviolate the genocide convention, according to an Australian spokesman forthe
. The purpose of the camps has been totransfer the Tamil population out of population areas and change theirethnic makeup.