3EA’11 SS Edition 11 TIMES ALL ABOUT THE BIG WORLD WE LIVE INBrief History Of Sri LankA before Conflict Exclusive News TodayThe ethnic conflict between the Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka has ahistory spanning more than 100 years. It began when Sri Lanka was underthe British colonial rule, as resentment was created when the Tamilminority was privileged over the Sinhalese for jobs and educationalopportunities. The reversed happened when Sri Lanka becameindependent in 1948, as the Sri Lanka government passed the CeylonCitizenship Act and the Sinhala Only Official Language Act, making lifeincreasingly difficult for the Tamils. Ethnic violence erupted during the1950s and 1960s as a result of the perceived unfair treatment. Furtherunhappiness was caused with the introduction of new and more stringentuniversity admission criteria for Tamils after 1970 to limit their Destruction In Sri Lankaenrolment in university, as well as the resettlement policy implemented Pg 2 - 4during the 1950s, when Sinhalese peasants, and even the Sri Lanka Armymoved in and took over areas occupied by Tamils. The unjust treatment ofTamils was the impetus for the formation of the Tamil United LiberationFront, a new political party created to fight for Tamil rights. Out of thisarose the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ,a youth militant group whoadopted violence as a means to achieve their goal - to have a separate andindependent Tamil state.In 1948, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) enjoyed the highest literacy rate in Asia. Itdid not have the problem of over-population; its educational andtransportation systems were advanced. For some years, Ceylon was amodel for the world. But, today, it is an island known for its problems, andits reputation as a killing field only matched by that of countries such asRwanda. Head Rolling Moments Pg 4 - 7- Adapted from a comment by an editor of a Tamil newspaper in 2003.
NORTHLANDTIMES | 3EA’11 Edition 2 ALL ABOUT THE BIG WORLD WE LIVE IN TIMESFactor: Citizenship RightsWhen Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948, the Sri Lankan governmentpassed the Ceylon Citizenship Act of 1948. This act granted citizenshiponly to those either born in Sri Lanka or those whose forefathers wereborn there. As a result, many Tamils found themselves stateless. Thoughthey had lived in Sri Lanka for many years, the Indian Tamils did not havebasic rights like education,jobs, housing and voting. However, they continuedto work on the tea plantations and contributed significantly to the Sri Lankan economy. TheTamils felt resentful because they were not allowed a say in the running of the country even thoughthey contributed economically to it. Being denied voting rights meant that they could not vote forpoliticians who could restore their rights and improve their lives. And by being denied education andhousing, they were condemned to live their lives in poverty and suffering. The oppression they sufferedled them to use violent means in order to reclaim their rights.Factor: ‘Sinhala Only’ Policy When Sri Lanka was under British rule, English-educated Tamils could enter government service and bepromoted. They occupied some of the most powerful jobs in the government service although they were theminority in the country. The Sinhalese, although the majority, were disadvantaged because they could not readand write well in English. After Sri Lanka achieved independence, English remained the official language. However,in 1956, Sinhala was declared the country’s official language under the Official Language Act and used as thelanguage of administration in Sri Lanka. Tamils in the government were given three years to learn Sinhala or bedismissed. They were upset as they found it difficult to find jobs or be promoted. The sudden change in thelanguage policy caught the Tamils off-guard and made them feel that it was a deliberate attempt by theSinhalese government to humiliate them and force them to quit their civil service jobs. This led to rising tensionsbetween both ethnic groups which might have led to conflict.
NORTHLANDTIMES | 3EA’11 Edition 3 ALL ABOUT THE BIG WORLD WE LIVE IN TIMES Factor: ‘Sinhala Only’ PolicyExample of how Sinhala, Tamil and English are used Languages Spoken By People In Sri Lankain an official document such as an application formfor citizenshipFactor: University Admission Criteria Before 1970, university admission was based on merit and the examinations were in English. This policy benefitedthe English-educated Tamils and they scored well in examinations. The proportion of Tamils admitted touniversity was significantly higher that their proportion in the population. After 1970, the government introducednew university admission criteria. Tamil students had to score higher marks than Sinhalese students to enter thesame courses in universities. A fixed number of places were also reserved for the Sinhalese. Admission was nolonger based solely on academic results. When the Tamils were deprived of higher education, they were not ableto find gainful employment or land prestigious jobs. This denied them of any opportunity of improving their socialand economic status in Sri Lankan society. This made them resent the Sinhalese.
NORTHLANDTIMES | 3EA’11 Edition 4 TIMES ALL ABOUT THE BIG WORLD WE LIVE IN Factor: ResettlementThis policy aimed to provide land for poor Sinhalese peasants to live on and cultivate rice. The Buiddhist monksand the Sri Lankan army (mainly Sinhalese) also came from the densely populated south-western and central areasto occupy the homeland of the Tamils in the northern and eastern part of Sri Lanka. Therefore, the resettlementof Sinhalese to the Tamil-populated region caused conflict in Sri Lanka because it created a lot of resentmentamongst the Tamils. Many of them were left with little land and thus less food to survive on. Due to such blatantdisregard for their land, the Tamils felt justifiable to support the Tamil Tigers to go against the government.
NORTHLANDTIMES | 3EA’11 Edition 5 TIMES ALL ABOUT THE BIG WORLD WE LIVE INConsequences Of The ConflictConsequences: Armed ConflictIn 1978, a new political party called the Tamil United Liberation Front emerged. IT called for aseparate independent state called Tamil Eelam. Their members believed that only separationfrom Sri Lanka would ensure the rights of the Tamils. When the Sri Lankan governmentrejected their demands, some Tamil youths decided to form a militant group called theLiberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This was a terrorist group which used violence toattack Tamil members of the police force, Tamils who supported the ruling party, Tamilpoliticians who did not support the proposed independent state and the Sinhalese. In response,the Sinhalese held anti-Tamil riots in which thousands of Tamils lost their lives and property.The most serious of these riots occurred in 1983, when thousands of Tamils fled to Tamil Naduin southern India, forcing the Indian government to intervene. Hence, armed conflict is aserious consequence of conflict because it led to loss of many lives and created intensehostility, hatred and distrust amongst the Tamils and Sinhalese.
NORTHLANDTIMES | 3EA’11 Edition 6 TIMES ALL ABOUT THE BIG WORLD WE LIVE INConsequences: Foreign InterventionThe ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka attracted the intervention of a third party, India. At first Indiatried to play the role of a mediator in response to the 1983 riots. However, attempts to get boththe Tamils and Sinhalese to come to an agreement on certain issues failed. Then in 1987, theIndian government sent a flotilla of 20 Indian ships to Jaffna to send food and petroleumproducts to the Tamils. When they were turned back by the Sri Lankan navy, the Air Forcedropped food and medical supplies in Jaffna the following day. By doing so, it violated the SriLankan airspace. In July 1987, under pressure from India, Sri lanka agreed to sign a peace accordwith India. There was to be ceasefire between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan forces.However, in 1987, when the Tamil Tigers failed to fully surrender their weapons, the Indiantroops took control of the Tiger-controlled Jaffna by force. Most of the clashes after that weremostly between the Tamil Tigers and the Indian peacekeeping forces in the North and East of SriLanka. Finally, the peacekeeping forces were withdrawn in 1990. Hence, foreign intervention is aserious consequence because it intensifies the armed struggle even further through the presenceof foreign troops. Instead of saving laves, the peacekeeping forces increased the death toll dueto clashes with the Tamil Tigers, hence throwing the country into greater chaos. Signing Of The Peace Accord In July 1987. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi Of India (Left) and President P. Jayewardene Of Sri Lanka ( Right)
NORTHLANDTIMES | 3EA’11 Edition 7 TIMES ALL ABOUT THE BIG WORLD WE LIVE INThousands of factory workers, self-employed persons and plantation workers lost their jobs. Manyof these people were breadwinners of their families. A large number of the jobless were theSinhalese who took part in vandalizing, looting and burning of their places of work such as garmentfactories. With the ongoing instability in the country, foreign investors did not have anyconfidence to invest in Sri Lanka. As a result, investment fell from US$66 million in 1982 toUS$39 million in 1986. Lastly, the internal conflict also deters tourists from coming into Sri Lanka,especially after the 1983 riots. This resulted in loss of jobs and earnings. There were less funds toConsequences: Social Impact Sri Lankan Refugees: The conflict caused more than 200, 000 Sinhalese and Tamils to migrate and work abroad as migrant workers due to the conflict. More than 1 million Tamils had been displaced and 64, 000 has died in the conflict. There was also a serious problem of malnutrition and poverty in Sri Lanka. More than 50% of the population earned less than US$2 a day. Social services are also inadequate and many schools are run-down and universities do not have sufficient facilities. A Refugee Camp in Sri Lanka Tamil Refugee Fleeing 3EA’11 SS Edition TIMES ALL ABOUT THE BIG WORLD WE LIVE INNORTHLANDTIMES Is A Non-Profit Organization3,YISHUN STREET 22.SINGAPORE 768578TEL:+65 62576781 FAX: +65 62573634Website: www.northlandsec.moe.edu.sgNORTHLAND TIMES, 3EA’11 Social Studies Edition Is Written By Xander TanWXPending For Review From Main Editor: Miss Bavani