July, I was working as a Cadet Engineer on MV Lanka Rani which was
owned by the Ceylon Shipping Corporation. I saw my neighbor's house
in Kotakena looted by local thugs around 10 AM. We informed the
police about the incident however nobody came to provide help. All
the valuables were cleared out of the houses as if the land lord
was evicting someone out of their rental house. The neighbor was
wealthy Indian Tamil and owned a few stores in Colombo. He escaped
through the backyard with his small child and wife.
My nerves were on
ends as I watched law and order break down into chaos every where
in the city. With reluctance and fear, I left my house as well.
As I hurried to the road, I witnessed people stealing, breaking
into houses, burning houses and killing others. I was very fluent
in Sinhala and so I was able to understand the comments among
the looters. They couldn’t carry all the looted items so
some of them even asked me to help them carry TVs, furniture,
rice bags and potato bags up on their shoulders and heads. Beside
a Nescafe Coffee shop, I saw group of people breaking down and
burning a store as a Army truck passing by filled with looters
waved and yelled, "Victory for Armed forces". I went
closer to the store and one person told me in Sinhala that we
must find a Tamil and throw him in the fire. I am also agreed.
As I kept walking, I saw a burning car close by Kochikada police
station. Lots of people gathered around and I heard them say that
they burned a rich Tamil business man alive who lived on a nearby
day, I heard that some of my friends from Moratuwa campus ended
up in Sarasthy hall as a refugee I stopped by and dropped some
can foods there. I heard two students from Moratuwa University
were beaten to death close to their boarding house in Dehiwala.
I knew them since we used to leave our valuables in their room
whenever we went for swimming in the beach nearby.
I went to Ceylon Shipping Corporation head office and talked to
some of the employees there. The personnel manager, Neil de Silva
begged to all staff not to engage in any of the violence and save
the reputation of Shipping Corporation. I was transferred to different
ship, Lanka Muditha because Lanka Rani was taking refugees to
Jaffna. I saw loads of Tamils shipped to Jaffna in cargo holds
I left that, I saw a co-worker was shivering in front me inside
the Port Authority. He wanted to hurt me, but he froze and turned
that point, I totally lost hope and confidence of living in Colombo.
Before Black July, I have traveled to several countries in the
world by ships, but I never wanted to leave Sri Lanka for greener
pastures. But after Black July, I left the country and landed
as refugee in the West.
Next Story... | Submit