Bindunuwewa massacre

4 09 2009

The Bindunuwewa Massacre or Bindunuwewa Prison Massacre took place on October 24, 2000 at a detention center of Bindunuwewa, Sri Lanka, resulting in the deaths of 26 minority Tamil political prisoners by a mob of majority Sinhalese.[1][2]


The low-security detention center was established to house rebel LTTE sympathizers and activists who were of a relatively young age. Of the 26 killed, 2 were under the age of 19 and the rest were between 19 and 30.[3]

The massacre

On October 24, 2000, a mob of a few hundred Sinhalese villagers armed with knives, rods and torches stormed the detention center while the inmates were sleeping. The Sri Lankan Army detachment that was posted there had been withdrawn the previous day, for unknown reasons.[4]

Once the massacre started, the posted police personnel refused to intervene to stop it.[5]

Government response

Initially, the government responded by saying that the detainees had rioted and that the massacre was an outcome of an attempt to control the rioting. Then it was claimed that the police were unable to protect the detainees in the face of superior mob force. Eventually, the government charged a few police officers with a crime. Most were initially convicted of murder, only to be released by the Sri Lankan Supreme Court in 2006.[citation needed]


A number of theories have been postulated to explain the massacre:

  • It was organized by local Sinhala nationalist political activists with the convenience of Sri Lankan Army and police personnel.
  • It was a reaction by the local villagers who resented the detention center in their neighborhood.
  • It was organized by the military establishment to thwart an attempt by the detainees to go on hunger strike in the subsequent days to protest their detention.