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Causes of the Conflict in Sri Lanka

Conflict in Multi-Ethnic Societies: Lesson 1 of 4

In this lesson, we were introduced to the occurrence of conflict within mutli-ethnic societies in many parts of the world. We then studied the history of Sri Lanka to get some idea of the events that led up to the decades-long civil war that would ravage the country in the years to come.

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Causes of the Conflict in Sri Lanka

  1. 1. Case Studies: Sri Lanka & Northern Ireland
  2. 2.  A welcome break from Singapore’s policies  Two case studies of conflict in multi-ethnic societies: Sri Lanka & Northern Ireland  We will study: • Causes of the conflict • Consequences of the conflict • Lessons to be learnt from both conflicts
  3. 3. Identify the challenges faced by multi- ethnic societies Explain how conflicts develop within M-E societies and cause negative consequences Suggest ways that such conflicts can be avoided
  4. 4. Understand the background of ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka Identify the 4 major factors leading to ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka Explain how these factors led to unhappiness
  5. 5. Two ethnic groups in Sri Lanka: • Sinhalese (majority) • Tamils (minority)  Sri Lankan Tamils & Indian Tamils Sri Lanka was a British colony known as Ceylon British colonial govt favoured the Tamil minority
  6. 6. The conflict in Sri Lanka didn’t just happen out of nowhere… 1. Citizenship Rights 2. ‘Sinhala Only’ Policy 3. University Admission Criteria 4. Resettlement These factors led to increasing resentment between the Sinhalese and Tamils
  7. 7. 1. Citizenship Rights • Ceylon Official Citizenship Act (1948) • Indian Tamils were not given Sri Lankan citizenship • Many became stateless 2. ‘Sinhala Only’ Policy • Official language changed from English to Sinhala • Tamils had to learn Sinhala in 3 years • Those who did not were dismissed from government service
  8. 8. 3. University Admission Criteria • Tamils had to score higher marks than Sinhalese to enter the same course • Fixed number of places reserved for Sinhalese • Still carries on today 4. Resettlement • Govt moved poor Sinhalese peasants into Tamil areas • Peasants were accompanied by Buddhist monks and the Sri Lankan army
  9. 9. How do you think the Tamils felt?