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Spurts of anti-Tamil riots continually broke out island-wide over the next few years. The Government enacted laws such as Prevention of Terrorism Act (allows security forces to detain anyone without trial up to 18 months) in order to deploy troops in Tamil areas and eliminate the Tamil mobilization. Similar to the 1974 killing of 9 scholars at the 4th International Tamil Research Conference, killings of the local population continued. The ranks of militia groups then swelled with more disillusioned youth.

After the 1977 election, the Prime Minster and government politicians began uttering statements that were unaccomodating of Tamils. Prime Minster J.R. Jeyawardene said he would give Tamils war or peace depending on what they wanted. Minsters such as Cyril Matthew reiterated anti-Tamil statements in Parliament repeatedly. Riots were sparked by the police and army stationed in the north, and spread to the entire island including Colombo. Hundreds of Tamils were killed, and even some hospital staff attacked Tamil patients and hospital officials.

In 1981, the Jaffna Public Library was burned by Sinhala policemen stationed in the North. In response, militants began to target security forces and government agents. Despite recommendations from International Commission of Jurists to eliminate the Terrorism Act by imposing strict control over the actions of security forces and provide greater autonomy to Tamil regions, President J.R. Jayawardene responded by providing greater power to the Army to open fire, kill and bury without inquest. His actions were met with approval and greater anti-Tamil sentiments in Parliament.

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