Expulsion of an estimated 70,000 – 100,000 Muslims from the Northern province by the LTTE. It is reported that Muslims were ordered to leave, giving them between 2 and 48 hours notice.
The Politics Of Destruction & The Human Tragedy, Report No. 6, 4 February 1991: The Expulsion And Expropriation Of Muslims In The North, UTHR (J); Muslim Refugees: The Forgotten People in Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Conflict, S. H. Hasbullah (2001); Sri Lanka’s Muslims: Out in the Cold, The Hindu, 31 July 2007; A Timely and Prudent Step by the LTTE, Frontline, Volume 19 – Issue 12, June 8-21, 200.
Extracts from UTHR (J) report
“But in every way Muslims and Tamils in the North had been traditionally totally integrated into local life as interdependent communities. There were Muslim traders, tailors, iron mongers, labourers and scholars. More recently, several of them took to farming in the Killinochchi area. As part of the arena of culture and scholarship, Muslims formed an important component of the University of Jaffna. There was no conflict at all.
“By the end of September, the Muslims in Chavakacheri were warned that they should be prepared for an expulsion order. Following the end of the first week in October, a very senior LTTE leader visited Vakarai in the Batticaloa district in the East where anti-Muslim feeling was rife following recent incidents. This strongly suggests that the LTTE regarded some major action against Muslims as a means of regaining its tattered credibility in the East. On 15th October, Muslims in Chavakacheri were asked to leave the peninsula. They were forced out without being able to carry hard earned valuable items such as fridges and fans. The following report was given by sources from that area:
“The Muslims’ houses were looted and ransacked and they were treated in the most brutal manner. In effect, the liberators behaved like an invading army on the binge. The LTTE cadre pocketed whatever article, such as scent bottles, that they could pocket. In one house, the koorai (bridal attire) of a young lady, married on 30th June, was removed. The owners had been asked to vacate their houses, leaving the woman of the house in charge when the LTTE came to take the inventory. One man had taken his wife leaving a 60 year old lady behind. When asked, he replied, ‘Since they are behaving like an invading army, like the IPKF and the Sri Lankan army, there is no guarantee that my wife would be safe’. …
“On the 24th at 4.00 p.m, the LTTE made a public announcement by loud-speaker: “All Muslims living in Mannar island should leave by 28th October. Before leaving, they must seek permission and clearance at the LTTE Office. The LTTE will decide their exit route.”
“Most Tamils were utterly disturbed by this. A meeting of local citizens was arranged for the 25th morning. The Bishop who was at Madhu could not come. Those who met included Roman Catholic clergy, officials from Save the Children Fund, Christian laymen and other leading citizens. Following the meeting, a delegation went to see the local LTTE leader Suresh (former student, University of Jaffna) and asked for the order to be rescinded. …
“Each Muslim family was allowed to take one sovereign of gold, Rs.2,000/- cash and five travel bags per family. Printed forms were given for clearance.
“The Muslims from Puthukudiruppu, Tharapuram, Uppukulam and Erukkalampiddy were taken to the beach at a place near Erukkalampiddy known as `Five Coconut Trees’, and were left there until they could find boats. They had to spend nights in the open in rainy weather with no conveniences and no boutique to obtain food and water. On the 28th the MARR (Mannar Association for Refugee Rehabilitation) purchased all the bread baked in Mannar and obtained the LTTE’s permission to take bread and water to the Muslims. Over three days, the Muslims made their exit to Kalpitiya, 60 miles South, by sea. Boats owned by Muslim fishermen in Mannar and Kalpitiya were used. The journey was often hazardous in crowded boats. There was at least one case of a parent numbed by cold, dropping a child into the sea and not knowing it for some time. To the old and the sickly, who had not known any place in the world, but Mannar island, the emotional and physical strain of the removal may prove fatal.”
“I made an apology to the Muslim people that what has happened in the past has to be forgotten, that we are willing to talk to them and resolve their problems. [The Tamil territory in the North and East] belongs to the Muslim people also,” LTTE’s political adviser Anton Balasingham, Press Conference, 10 April 2002.
“The rapprochement between the LTTE and the SLMC has certain significant elements which are very progressive. They have realised the inevitable need to engage the SLMC in order to resolve their problems. That is somewhat comforting, although we have not made an emotional response to the statement they have made of late. We have told them unequivocally that we are prepared to forgive and not forget the past in the hope that they will be sincere in their attitude towards Muslims. We have bitter memories of the past. But it is time we contended with the ground realities. That would mean that the LTTE also has to look at Muslims and their separate political identity as something that has become quite pronounced over a period of time,” Rauff Hakeem, Leader of SLMM, 23 May 2003.