25 years of agony suffered by Muslims of the North
Posted on October 31st, 2015

By : A.A.M.Nizam – Matara

30th October marke 25 years of expulsion of Muslims from the North by the ruthless and inhuman Tiger Terrorists

The Muslims who inhabited the Northern Province for several centuries are the most discriminated people of Si Lanka. This week marked 25 years since they were forcibly evicted by the LTTE terrorists in a matter of hours that ranged from two hours to two days. Their treatment in Jaffna, the seat of Tamil civilization, was extremely harsh as they were given only two hours to leave. They lost heavily, their moveable properties, their jewelry and their traditional homes and villages.

There are many complications attached to their return although six years have passed since the elimination of the LTTE and liberation of this country. However, the majority of the Muslim people who were displaced remain in a state of frustration and distress over their fate, which spills over into the larger Muslim community of being unjustly treated. The problems faced by this section of the Sri Lankan population and finding a just solution have not been given either the governmental attention or priority that it duly deserves.

The government has agreed to set up a judicial mechanism with international participation to investigate the past violations of human rights and international humanitarian laws, and prosecute those found guilty of those offenses. On the other hand, the UN investigation report on which the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council is based covers only the period 2002 to 2009. Therefore since the expulsion of Muslims of the north which took place more than a decade earlier in 1990 falls outside of its scrutiny.

Although the expulsion of the northern Muslims took place 25 years ago, and not in the last phase of the war, it too needs to be investigated and the circumstances under which it took place need to be known to the world. It also needs to become a part of Sri Lanka’s history that is remembered and never again repeated.

Is the Yahapalana regime which speaks of justice and accountability and redress for all forms of discrimination is only concerned about taking an extra mile to please the Tamils despite the majority of whom in some form or the other were responsible for collaborating with the tiger terrorists in their blatant destruction of Sri Lanka for three decades.

The UNHRC resolution covering to investigate the so-called criminal activities only from 2002 to 2009 and permitting foreign elements to involve in these investigations and closing the door for investigations covering the whole period of massacres and destructions carried out by the terrorists in their entire period of aggression clearly demonstrates that the government has shamelessly succumbed to pressure exerted by Tamil Diaspora and the international elements (the Maiocca eaters) who attempted to stop the war and save the terrorists from annihilation.  It is vital to give the Truth and Reconciliation Commission the power to recommend prosecution of crimes that took place prior to 2002 as well.

About 25 years ago, on October 30, 1990, the Tamil Tigers evicted the Muslims from the Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. A politically marginal population of about 75,000 people, constituting five per cent of the Northern Province, was subjected to ethnic cleansing with military precision; the Muslims were given between two and 48 hours to leave with just their clothes and a meagre 500 rupees in some areas and with only Rs. 150 in other areas.

Having lost all that that they owned, most of them languished in refugee camps in districts outside the North, mostly in Puttalam in Sri Lanka’s North Western Province. The end of the war in May 2009 brought some hopes for a return, but the absence of a resettlement policy, an unwelcoming Tamil bureaucracy and severed relations with the Tamil community have effectively crippled the process.

In the Jaffna peninsula, over 2,000 families — out of the nearly 8,000 Muslim families originally from there — returned and registered for resettlement soon after the end of the war. However, only about 600 of them remain amidst immense social and economic difficulties.

It was in October 1990 that the tiger terrorists forcibly expelled the Muslim people from the Northern Province in an atrocious act amounting to ethnic cleansing. Within a few days the Muslims were chased out of their homeland where they had lived for many, many centuries

The mass expulsion of Muslims from the North in 1990 was a humanitarian catastrophe. Uprooting a people from their habitat at gun point and driving them away after depriving them of their cash and jewelry was despicable and unpardonable.

Given below is a graphic short account of events that took place in Black October” of 1990.

Black October” 1990 began in the Jaffna peninsula with the expulsion of Muslims of Chavakachcheri on October 15th and ended with the Muslims of Jaffna town on Oct 30th. The mass eviction of Muslims on the Northern mainland began a few days before it commenced in Jaffna town and concluded a few days after the peninsula was cleansed” of Muslims.

The bulk of Northern Muslims were then living in the Mannar district. Apart from Jaffna and Mannar , the Muslims of Mullaitheevu and Kilinochchi districts were also expelled. The Muslims in Vavuniya were luckier as most of their villages were in the Government controlled areas. More than 50,00 Muslims were expelled from the northern mainland by the LTTE. Together with those of the peninsula the Muslims driven out from the Northern Province numbered around 75,000 in 1990.

According to the 1981 census the Muslims in the Mannar district comprised 26% of the district’s population. They were 46% of the Mannar Island linked to the mainland by the Thalladdy causeway .The premier and relatively prosperous Muslim village on Mannar Island was Erukkalampitty. Around 300 tiger cadres encircled Erukkalampitty on Oct 21st 1990 and robbed the Muslims of cash, jewelry and valuable electronic goods. Around 800 – 850 houses were targeted.

On Oct 22nd some Muslims from Marichukkatty village near the Mannar – Puttalam district border were arrested by the LTTE alleging that they were having clandestine dealings with the armed forces. On Oct 23rd the villagers of Marichukkatty were ordered to leave the place. This was followed by an eviction order on Oct 24th to all Muslims in the Musali AGA division where Marichukkatty is situated. Musali was a Muslim majority AGA division.

On Oct 24th the LTTE announced by loudspeaker that all Muslims living in Mannar Island should go out by Oct 28th and that they should report to the local LTTE office to finalize the procedures of expulsion. On Oct 26th the LTTE invaded” Erukkalampitty again and seized all the packed belongings of Muslims.

On October 28th evening the LTTE sealed off Erukkalampitty and other Muslim areas on Mannar Island. The Muslims of Mannar Island from the town and areas like Erukkalampitty, Tharapuram, Puthukkudiyiruppu, Uppukulam, Konthaipitty etc were forced to assemble enmasse on selected spots on the beach. They were left there without food or water or proper facilities for personal care.  And then the Muslims of Mannar Island were forcibly sent 60 miles south by sea to Kalpitiya in the North Western province. Boats owned by Muslims in Mannar and Puttalam were used for this purpose. The entire exercise took more than three days. Some infants and elderly people passed away soon after reaching Kalpitiya.

The plight of Muslims in the Mannar district mainland was equally wretched. The Muslims from the Muslim majority Musali AGA division as well as Muslims living in other areas such as Vidathaltheevu, Periyamadhu, Sannar, Murungan, Vaddakkandal, Parappankandal etc were ordered by the LTTE on Oct 25th to surrender their vehicles, bicycles, fuel and electronic goods at selected locations..

On October 26th they were ordered to report to the local LTTE office for instructions on how to leave” the district. The Muslims were checked in three places –Madhu,Pandivirichaan and a location near Vavuniya town. At Madhu and Pandivirichaan ,people carrying more items than they were allowed” found those being confiscated. This segment of Muslims arrived on foot to Vavuniya.

The expulsion went on in other parts of the Northern Wanni mainland. On October 22nd morning a few Muslims in Neeravippitty in Mullaitheevu district were arrested on suspicion” that they were supplying information to the armed forces. The same evening all Muslims in Mullaitheevu district were ordered to leave within a week’s time. The following day on Oct 23rd all Muslims living in Kilinochchi district were ordered to go out within five days. According to the 1981 census Muslims comprised 4.6% of Mullaitheevu and 1.6% of Kilinochchi districts respectively.

Muslims in Vavuniya district comprised 6.9% of the district according to 1981 census. The bulk of these people were living in Govt controlled areas. However the few Muslims living in LTTE controlled areas were also ordered to leave by November 1st.

According to the 1981 census Muslims in the Jaffna district were 1.66% of the total population. A portion of these in Chavakachcheri had been already chased out. The LTTE was more harsh on Jaffna Muslims than the others. They were given an incredibly short deadline to leave Jaffna. This may have been due to the LTTE deciding that Jaffna be cleansed” of Muslims by November. Comparatively the tigers came last” to the Jaffna Muslims. The LTTE D-Day for them was October 30th.

Many Jaffna Muslims left Sri Lanka after their expulsion and sought refuge in Western countries including Canada.

It was about 10.30 am in the morning that the LTTE vehicles with loudspeakers began plying the roads and lanes of the Jaffna Muslim residential areas. A terse announcement was repeated incessantly that representatives of each Muslim family should assemble at the Jinnah stadium of Osmania College by twelve noon. Armed tigers began patrolling the streets. Some began a house to house announcement in the thickly populated lanes and by – lanes.

The people abandoned whatever they were doing and hurried to the grounds. At 12. 30 pm a senior tiger leader Aanchaneyar addressed them. Aanchaneyar later went by another name Ilamparithy. Aanchaneyar or Ilamparithy had a brief message. He said that the LTTE high command for reasons of security had decided that all Muslims should leave Jaffna within two hours. Failure to do so meant punishment. No further explanation was given.

When people started to question him Ilamparithy lost his cool. He barked loudly that the Muslims should simply follow orders or face consequences. He then fired his gun several times in the air. A few of his bodyguards followed suit. The message was clear. The people thought initially that the army was going to invade Jaffna and that the LTTE was asking everyone to leave. Only belatedly did they realize that only the Muslims were being ordered to leave.

The Muslims streaming out of their homes were now given a fresh order. They were asked to queue up at the Ainthumuchanthi” junction. As the hapless people lined up they were in for a terrible shock. Male and female cadres of the LTTE began demanding that the Muslim people hand over all their money, belongings and jewelry to them. Each person was allowed to take only 150 rupees each. Each person was allowed only one set of clothes.

The suitcases with clothes and other belongings were confiscated. They were opened first and selected clothes taken out. If a person wore trousers an extra set of trouser and shirt was given. If a person wore a sarong an extra sarong and shirt was given. All the money and documents including title deeds to property, cheque books and national identity cards were confiscated.

Women and girls were stripped of jewels. Some women cadres were brutal even pulling out ear studs with blood spurting in the ear lobes. The children were not spared. Jaffna Muslims reported later that Karikalan from Batticaloa was supervising the entire operation.

At least 35 wealthy Muslim businessmen were abducted and detained by the LTTE. Some Muslim jewellers were tortured for details of hidden gold. One jeweller was killed by the beatings in front of the others. Later huge sums of money were demanded for their release. Some paid up to 3 million. The abducted persons were released in stages over the years. 13 people however never returned and are presumed dead.

The LTTE was particularly cruel in the case of Jaffna Muslims. The Jaffna Muslims were concentrated in two or three densely populated wards of the Jaffna Municipality. Sonaka theru, Ottumadam and Bommaively etc were their areas. They were an integral part of Jaffna society. There was a time when the Jaffna new market built by Mayor Alfred Duraiappah was virtually dominated by Muslims. Two of the three blocks were monopolized by Muslims. The hardware, lorry transport, jewellery and meat trades in Jaffna were dominated by Muslims. The Muslims of Jaffna like the Jaffna Tamils had also built up a proud educational tradition. Former civil servant and Zahira Principal AMA Azeez, Supreme Court Judge Abdul Cader, Appeal Court Judge MM Jameel. Education Director Munsoor etc being some leading lights of the Jaffna Muslims. There were Municipal Councillors and two MMCs Basheer and Sultan had been deputy – mayors and acting mayors of Jaffna.

Most of the Muslims expelled from the North were temporarily re- settled in the Puttalam district. Many found their way to Vavuniya, Negombo and Colombo districts. Others relocated to the Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Gampaha , Matale and Kandy districts. Quite a lot of Jaffna Muslims went abroad as refugees.

The largest concentrations of displaced Muslims from the northern mainland are in Kalpitiya and Pulichakulam areas. The largest concentration of displaced Jaffna peninsula Muslims are in the Thillaiyaddy area of Puttalam. More than 20,000 Muslims are still languishing in camps set up for Internally displaced persons.

Meanwhile the LTTE looted almost all possessions left in the Muslim houses. Many houses were stripped of tiles, wooden frames, doors, windows, etc. Much of the looted furniture was sold to Tamils through the LTTE Shops or Makkal Kadai”. Some Muslims returning to the North after the ceasefire recognized their possessions in other houses and businesses. Many Muslim houses, lands and vehicles were sold illegally to Tamils by the LTTE.

The regaining of Jaffna peninsula in 1995 -96 and the Wanni in 2009 after the military defeat of the LTTE in May 2009 has resulted in furthering Muslim re-settlement in the Northern Province. Despite the end of war the resettlement pace leaves much to be desired.

The total Muslim population of the Northern Province according to the 1981 census was 50,991 or 4.601%. Muslim community leaders say the Northern province Muslim population at the time of expulsion in 1990 numbered about 81,000. This consisted of about 20,000 in Jaffna , 45,000 in Mannar,7000 in Mullaitheevu,8000 in Vavuniya and around 1000 in Kilinochchi. Of these about 75,000 barring those in Vavuniya and Nainatheevu were forcibly expelled. 67,000 Muslim people were registered at IDP camps immediately after the mass expulsion. The remainder stayed outside camps with relatives and friends.

After 25 years this population is expected to have almost doubled due to natural increase. After the war ended, bout 75 % of the Northern Muslims registered their willingness to go back to the North and be resettled. But the 2012 census indicates that only a small number of Northern Muslims have returned permanently to their homelands despite consenting to do so.

The Muslim population in the Northern Province and their percentage in the respective districts according to the 2012 census is as follows. Mannar 16,087 -16.2%; Vavuniya 11,700 -6.8; Jaffna 2139 -0.4% ;Mullaitheevu 1760 – 1.9% ; and Kilinochchi 678 -0.6%. When compared to the estimates at the time of expulsion in 1990, the Muslim population has shown a marked decrease except in Vavuniya which was not totally affected then. The Muslim population in the Northern province according to the 2012 census was only 32,396 or 3.061%.

Many of the displaced Muslims who returned are yet to put down firm roots in their places of origin. They remain a floating population” still. There are many social, cultural, economic and political reasons for this poor performance in Northern Muslim resettlement.

It is the duty and the responsibility of the government to address this issue expeditiously if they are genuinely concerned about impartial and equal treatment for all communities. (niz)

6 Responses to “25 years of agony suffered by Muslims of the North”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    War supposedly ended in 2009 but it is as if LTTE is still in control of the north. Sinhala and Muslim IDPs have not been resettled since 2009. All because of their ethnicity. Certain politicians who claim to be patriots must not call themselves so as they have failed to resettle displaced non Tamils in the north.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    Thank you, Mr Nizam. You have exposed what happened to the Muslims evicted by the LTTE.


    At last the Muslim community is speaking up about the Atrocities of the LTTE. When will Lankans see justice done re Atrocities by the LTTE ? Never mind the war and that Prabhakaran is no more. There is much more to be questioned and exposed.

    Why is Tamil terrorism “protected” and others, especially the Sinhala/Buddhists hammered when they act in self defence ?

    No questions are asked by the powers that be about why Tamil Leaders demanded a Separate State from the 1930’s which has eventually led to terrible Violence by the LTTE after the Vadukoddai Resolution was declared in 1976, and the training of the LTTE by India in Tamil Nadu.

    The 6-A is yet to be activated.

    When it comes to matters of National Security and Tamil Leaders, the Laws of the Land seems quite useless and is an ‘Ass’ in Lanka. However, when it comes to hammering the Sinhala/Buddhists’ there is no fear to pounce/humiliate on them, guilty or not ! Rather hypocritical, pathetically ‘yellow’ and stupid, eh ?

  3. Independent Says:

    Former president’s security vehicle collides with a motorcycle
    Mon, Nov 2, 2015, 12:06 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Nov 01, Colombo: A security vehicle of former president and UPFA parliamentarian Mahinda Rajapaksa collided with a motorcycle Sunday injuring two people including a woman, the Police Media Unit said.

    The police said the former president’s vehicles were traveling from Elpitiya to Pitigala when one of the security vehicle collided with the motorcycle.

    The injured have been admitted to Elpitiya Base Hospital and Karapitiya Hospital. Their injuries were not life threatening, police said.

    Meanwhile, a message posted on former president’s Facebook page said the security vehicle was trying to avert a major accident when it collided with the motorcycle.

    “Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s motorcade was involved in an accident today on the way from Tangalle to Colombo. A motorcyclist was injured as security personnel took measures to avert a major accident,” it said.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    LTTE is dead and gone. Who is holding to properties of disaplced Muslims in Jaffna? Tamil civilians!! Ordinary Tamils!!

    ALL presidents since 1988 are damn scared of Tamils.

    This is why DISPLACED Muslims and Singhalese cannot be resettled in the north.

    Truth is bitter and stranger than fiction.

  5. SA Kumar Says:

    ALL presidents since 1988 are damn scared of Tamils.- Scared of VP to 19th May 2009 & now his erect

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Where there is fear, there is no love or liking ….. this is a universal law.

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