Kent and Dollar Farm massacres

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Kent and Dollar Farm massacres
Location Kent and Dollar Farms, Vavuniya, Sri Lanka
Date 30 November 1984
Attack type
Massacre
Weapons Submachine guns, automatic rifles and hand grenades
Deaths 62 killed
Perpetrators Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

The Kent and Dollar Farm massacres was one of the earliest massacres of Sinhalese civilians carried out by the LTTE during the Sri Lankan Civil War. The massacres took place on 30 November 1984, in two tiny farming villages in the district of Mullaitivu in north-eastern Sri Lanka.The Dollar and Kent Farm killings were the first attack by the Tigers on civilians.[1]

State colonisation schemes and Backdrop to the events[edit]

The Kent and Dollar farms were located near Manal Aru a divisional Secretariat in the Tamil district of Mullaitivu.Manal Aru was of immense importance since it was situated on the border of three districts Mullaitivu,Trincomalee and Anuradhapura and more importantly was the sole gateway between the North and the Eastern parts of the island where the Tamil community was the majority.

Realizing its strategic importance and in a bid to quell the rising threat of Tamil Nationalism, Manal Aru was renamed as Weli Oya(Sinhalese translation of the Tamil name) and an attempt was sought to colonise the area.

A total of 13,288 Tamil families living in 42 villages for generations including Kokkulai Grama Sevakar Division (1516 Tamil families), Kokku –Thoduvai Grama Sevakar Division (3306 Tamil families), Vavunia North Grama Sevakar Division (1342 Tamil families), Other Divisions of Mullaitivu District including Naiyaru and Kumulamunai ( 2011 Tamil families) were asked to vacate their homes and farmlands within 48 hours on pain of eviction by force in case of default. This threat was issued by the army over the public address system.

Simultaneously land given to 14 Tamil entrepreneurs, including Kent Farm and Dollar Farm, on 99 years lease was also cancelled and taken over by the government.

The Sinhalese army did translate its threat and used force as promised. Thousands of Tamil villagers, some of them Hill country Tamil refugees victims of earlier Sinhalese violence in 1983, were driven out or they on their own fled in terror. Some were murdered by the army. One night alone 29 Tamil villagers were killed at Othiyamalai, a hamlet situated north of the Weli Oya colony.

From 1988–89 Sinhala colonisation of Weli Oya was put on a war-footing. A total of 3364 families, most of them ex-convicts brought straight from prisons, were settled in Weli Oya. A further 35,000 persons comprising 5, 925 families were also settled under the same scheme.

Retaliation by the LTTE[edit]

Tamils were pained and incensed by the eviction of the Indian Tamil labourers from the Kent and Dollar Farms and by the harassment meted out to the Tamils of the nearby traditional villages.They lost faith on the reasonableness of the Sinhala leaders.

Due to increasing atrocities being committed against the locals, and the genocidal mindset of the Government was becoming visible, the LTTE planned and executed a retaliation against the Army to put an end to its activities and prevent further colonisation.

About 50 LTTE cadres travelled in the night in two buses armed with rifles, machine guns and grenades. One of the buses sped to Dollar Farm and the other to Kent Farm. The attacks was timed to start at about the same time in the early hours of the morning.

The LTTE fighters shot and hacked the guards, the prisoners and the male members of the families. Some of the prisoners were thrust into a room in a building and blasted with explosives. Sixty-two Sinhalese including three jail-guards were killed. The second bus proceeded to the Kent Farm eight kilometres away and killed 20 more home guards.

The police and the troops conducted a cordon and search operation and the government announced that the troops had killed 30 terrorists. Tamil circles said the victims were all civilians from the adjacent Tamil villages. The Tigers said their cadres had returned without suffering any loss.

Casualties[edit]

The death toll of Sinhalese killed during the LTTE retaliation numbered 62 all males mostly armed home guards or ex-convicts settled.

A senior official from LTTE maintained that those who were killed were not ordinary civilians, but criminals brought for the sinister military purpose of colonising the traditional Tamil region with Sinhalese. He told the expatriate group strict instructions had been given to the cadres not to kill women or children.

The total civilian deaths from the Tamil side remains unreported, with a minimum of 30 civilian deaths that had arisen after the Govt's retaliation to the attack but would probably number far more than that, when Tamil civilians who resisted colonisation were harassed and murdered by the Sri Lankan army prior to the settlements becoming Sinhalese.

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