Tamil Separatist Violence Erupts in Sri Lanka (Great Events from History II: Human Rights Series)
Article abstract: The Tamil war for independence threatened not only the unity of Sri Lanka but also the country’s democratic framework, which had existed since 1948 and had been a model for other Third World nations.
Summary of Event
Sri Lanka established one of the world’s most impressive records of democracy from 1947 to 1977. Beneath this record, however, was a majoritarian political system superimposed upon a society with deep ethnic divisions. By the 1980’s, these divisions erupted into a civil war between the country’s largest ethnic minority, the Tamils, and the government, which was dominated by the ethnic majority, the Sinhalese. Although it is a small nation, Sri Lanka has a wide variety of ethnic groups. The largest, the Sinhalese, accounted for more than 74 percent of the population in the 1981 census. They speak an Indo-Aryan language, Sinhala, and most are Buddhists. The largest ethnic minority, the Sri Lanka Tamils, compose more than 12 percent of the population. Their language, Tamil, is a Dravidian language, and most of the Tamils are Hindus. Another Tamil group is the Indian Tamils, who compose about 6 percent of the population. These Tamil-speaking, primarily Hindu, people consider themselves to be culturally different from the Sri Lanka Tamils. They trace their history on the island to the arrival of tea and coffee plantation workers from South India during the colonial era, while the Sri...
(The entire section is 2147 words.)
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