Expulsion of Muslims from the Northern province by LTTE
The expulsion of the Muslims from the Northern province was an act of ethnic cleansing carried out by the Tamil militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organisation in October 1990. Due to increasing tensions between different Tamil religious groups in the North Sri Lanka, the LTTE forcibly expelled the 72,000 strong Muslim population from the Northern Province.
With the creation of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress on the 21st of September 1981, the idea of the Muslim people of Sri Lanka being separate from the Tamils, was being reinforced. Due to this, they felt that if the goal of Tamil Eelam was reached, they would be a "minority, in a minority state", and the SLMC were strongly opposed to the idea of Tamil Eelam. The situation was further aggravated with the creation of the Muslim Home Guard, by the Sri Lankan Government, leading to violent clashes and incidents taking place between the two communities. Tensions between the Tamils and Muslims were at an all time high, with the UTHR reporting that "It became an unspoken cliché that Muslims were traitors."
The first expulsion was in Chavakacheri, of 1,500 people. After this, Muslims in Kilinochchi and Mannar were forced many to leave their homeland. The turn of Jaffna came on October 30, 1990; when LTTE trucks drove through the streets ordering Muslim families to assemble at Osmania College. There, they were told to exit the city within two hours. The entire Muslim population was expelled from Jaffna. According to a 1981 census (the last official count), the total Muslim population in Jaffna was 14,844. They could take with them only the clothes they were wearing and no more than 50 rupees in cash. In total, over 14,400 Muslim families, roughly 72,000 people, were forcibly evicted from LTTE-controlled areas of the Northern Province. This includes 38,000 people from Mannar, 20,000 from Jaffna and Kilinochchi, 9,000 from Vavuniya and 5,000 from Mullaitivu.
Most of the Muslims were resettled in Puttalam district, though the Jaffna Muslim refugees can be found in other parts of Sri Lanka as well.
Apologies and resettlement by LTTE
The expulsion still carries bitter memories amongst Sri Lanka's Muslims. In 2002, the LTTE leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran formally apologised for the expulsion of Muslims from the North. There has been a stream of Muslims travelling to and from Jaffna since the ceasefire. Some families have returned and the re-opened Osmaniya College now has 450 students enrolled. 11 Mosques are functioning again. According to a Jaffna Muslim source, there is a floating population of about 2000 Muslims in Jaffna. Around 1500 are Jaffna Muslims, while the rest are Muslim traders from other areas. About 10 Muslim shops are functioning and the numbers are thought to have grown.
Sri Lanka's largest Tamil party the Tamil National Alliance also condemned it during the ceremony held in Colombo 2015 to mark the completion of 25 years since Muslims were evicted from the North. TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran criticized the silence of Tamil people when it happened.
- List of attacks attributed to the LTTE
- Expulsion of non-resident Tamils from Colombo
- Kattankudi mosque massacre
- Persecution of Muslims
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