The 1985 Trincomalee massacres refers to a series of mass murder of Tamil civilians allegedly by the Sri Lankan military and Sinhalese home guards in Trincomalee district, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka. The Trincomalee peninsula, which was home to internally displaced civilians, who had earlier been displaced from their homes as a result of the 1983 Anti-Tamil pogrom and the subsequent outbreak of the Civil War two years earlier. In a succession of events that spanned over two months, scores of Tamil civilians were massacred and thousands were driven out by the Sri Lankan military and Sinhalese mobs in order to colonize the area.
The East and particularly Trincomalee District has been a particular focus of the State in its attempts to suppress Tamil nationalist aspirations by administrative measures backed by brute force. Sinhalisation of Trincomalee was seen as the key to sundering the contiguity of Tamil habitations in the North and East. A measure put into force in April 1984 was to foment clashes between the Tamils and Muslims in the East. In Amparai and Batticaloa District, this was achieved by getting Muslim hoodlums of Minister M.H. Mohamed down from Colombo to attack some Tamil villages adjoining Muslim villages with backing from the newly inducted Special Task Force. In Mutur such attempts were thwarted by the timely action of A.L.A. Majeed MP.
Following is an incomplete list containing records of only reported and known massacres based on the availability of data.
On May 3, 50 Tamil people will killed by the Sri Lankan military and Sinhalese mobs in Thehiwaththa and Mahintapuram. Tamil inhabitants of these villages were ethnically cleansed and Sinhalese settlers took their places.
The Army and the newly inducted Sinhalese home guards commenced attacks on outlying Tamil villages in the Trincomalee District, in Nilaveli on 23 May 1985 and in the Allai settlement scheme south of Mutur the next day. Eight civilians were shot dead by the Military in Nilaveli on 23.05.1985.
More than ten people from Anpuvalipuram, who had gone in search of firewood never returned home. Their bulls and carts were found later. And their deaths were attributed to the home guards or the military.
11 civilians are shot dead in Pankulam village, and houses of the residents burnt down. A father and his 12-year-old son who were travelling to visit their family in the nearby village of Kankuveli were hacked to death by the Sinhalese home guards. Their bodies were disposed at the Kankuveli tank.
Over 40 houses and property belonging to Tamils in Echchilampattu were set fire. Two civilians were killed. On the same day, several fishermen from the district were shot dead by the Sri Lankan Navy while they were fishing.Bodies of 3 fishermen were recovered.
On 27 May 1985, a bus belonging to the State bus service CTB, was stopped at 52nd Milepost in Mahintapura and 6 of its passengers and its driver Pushparaja, all Tamils, were killed in cold blood and their bodies burnt by Sinhala mobs assisted by the home guards.
On the night of 31 May a police party with home guards took away 37 Tamils from the south bank of Killiveddy.
A bus carrying 13 Tamils was burned in Trincomalee. Mr. A. Thangathurai, a former Member of Parliament, was the only survivor and witness of the incident.
On 5 June 1985, an air force helicopter flew over Thiriyai, the surviving northernmost Tamil village in Trincomalee District, firing at residents (Amarivayal and Thennamaravady villages had been uprooted seven months earlier). Air Force personnel then came in trucks with explosives and set fire to 700 houses. People who remained took refuge in the local school.
on 10 August 1985, the Army arrived again at Thiriyai and opened fire targeting some of the leaders, killing among 10 persons, a principal and a village headman.
The last of the large-scale attacks was launched on Trincomalee town itself on 9 September 1985. Under cover provided by the Army, firing from the air by the Air Force and from the sea by naval gunboats, mainly Sinhalese home guards moved in to loot, burn and to kill. 25 civilians were killed and about 1500 houses and places of worship were destroyed.