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Sri Lanka

Ethnic Conflict,  Civil War & Politics

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Sri Lanka : keeping the peace in a sharply divided society

  Eelam War IV - Northern Theater - Progress Reports

The current ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka is a much more complex business than a simple straightforward confrontation between a once well-entrenched minority the Tamils and a now powerful but still insecure majority -the Sinhalese. The Sinhalese majority and the Sri Lanka Tamil minority are not the only players in this intricate political drama even though they play the principal roles. There are two conflicting perceptions of these conflicts. Most Sinhalese believe that the Tamil minority has enjoyed a privileged position under British rule and that the balance has of necessity to shift in favour of the Sinhalese majority. The Tamils for their part claim that they are now a harassed minority, the victims of frequent acts of communal violence and calculated acts and policies of discrimination directed at them. Most of the Tamils' fears and their sense of insecurity stem from the belief that they have lost the advantageous position they enjoyed under British rule in many sectors of public life in the country; in brief, a classic case of a sense of relative deprivation. Read Full Story


More Background Information:


Brief History of Tamil militancy in Sri Lanka

Tamil Identity & Aspirations: Two nations, one island

Self-Determination: a Ceylon Tamil Perspective

War and Negotiation in Sri Lanka- Historical Context

Broken Palmyra - By Dr.Rajani Thiranagama

Trying Times: Constitutional attempts to resolve armed conflict
Popular Buddhism, Politics & the Ethnic Problem

Selected Texts from the 1994-5 Negotiations Process

International and Regional Implications of the Sri Lankan Tamil Insurgency


Tigers, Moderates & Pandora's Package



Coming to Terms with the Tamils

Tamil separatism and its propaganda

UTHR(J) Special Reports

The Devolution Package - A Recipe for Destruction of Sri Lanka

Remembering 1983 black July riots in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka ethnic conflict related documents


Composition of Population (1981Census):


What Sri Lankans Want is Living Together in Peace @ Photo UNDP

Tamil Tigers (LTTE) -


The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), arguably the most lethal and well organised terrorist group in the world, began its armed campaign in Sri Lanka for a separate Tamil homeland in 1983. The group threatens not only the domestic stability of Sri Lanka and India but also the security of the international system as a whole. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and related Tamil insurgents are engaged in organized criminal activities. These began in Sri Lanka and have spread to Western Europe, North America and Australia - wherever Tamil refugees have landed. The LTTE is now banned in Sri Lanka, India, the United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada and Malaysia.

Related Stories:



Funding terror: LTTE  Criminal Activities in Canada and the  World

Tiger International

Canada - Turning a Blind Eye to Terrorism
Norwegian support to LTTE

South African LTTE Connections Exposed

Tracking Tigers in Phuket

Sea Tigers, stealth technology and the North Korean connection

Tamil Tigers Train Nepalese Rebels
Tigers of Lanka: from Boys to Guerrillas


LTTE: Ethnic Strife or Tamil Separatist Terrorism?
Human Bombs, Child Soldiers, Assassinations and Massacres - Hallmarks of Tamil Tigers
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), while masquerading as a liberation organisation, has murdered and massacred thousands of innocent civilians
from all ethnic communities - Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims in Sri Lanka. Tamil Tigers have assassinated many moderate Tamil leaders of the country in a systematic manner from the beginning of 1980s. Vellupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the LTTE, has established a rule of terror in Jaffna, many of his own lieutenants have been murdered; Tamils who have criticised him, even mildly, have been picked up, tortured and executed; others have been held in dungeons, half starved, hauled out periodically for a battering by the guards.. Prabhakaran has shown a bloodthirstiness in dealing with opponents that has compared with some of the cruelest figures in Asian history, including Pol Pot of Cambodia. The evidence is that LTTE much prefers killing to democracy and has no wish to test the opinion of the people in whose name they commit so much murder.

Related Stories:


Massacres of Innocent Civilians by LTTE

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Attacks from 1988 - 2001

The first civilian massacre 1984 - Kent Farm and Dollar Farm

Kattankudi Muslim Mosque Massacre

LTTE slaughter of Muslims

Arantalawa massacre

Child Soldiers

Participation in armed conflicts, even voluntarily, by children below the age of 15 is an offence, according to the Geneva Convention, 1948, and the two amendments to it, adopted in 1997, as well as Article 38 of the UN Convention on Rights of the Child. In the decade ending 1999, nearly two million child soldiers were killed in the various conflicts, worldwide. According to an April 2000 estimate, there are some 2,000 children in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE) ranks. Child soldiers were originally recruited into the LTTE’s baby brigade, commandeered by Justin. But, after 1987, they were integrated with adult units. (Read More)

Photo: Sriyantha Walpola /The New York Times

Fifteen year old Raja went to the Teaching Hospital in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, complaining of insomnia, aggressive outbursts and irrational abnormal behaviour in late 1994. He had joined the LTTE at the age of 11 and underwent extensive training. He told doctors that after one attack where he lost many friends he was shown a videos of dead women and children and told that his enemies had done this. Soon afterwards he was involved in attacks on several Muslim villages near Batticaloa. When recounting one attack, he described how he held a child by the legs and bashed its head against a wall and how he enjoyed hearing the mother’s screaming. He said they deserved to die.  (Amnesty International Index 04/01/98; Page 38)

Related Stories:


LTTE Child Combatants by Rohan Gunaratna

Living in Fear - Child Soldiers and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka

Sacrifice one child per family to the LTTE

Sri Lanka's stolen children - CNN

A Former LTTE Child Soldier Speaks Out

Indiscriminately recruited by LTTE - UNICEF

Amnesty International Report on Sri Lanka - 2005

EPDP News Collection on child soldiers

Human Bombs & Terrorist attacks

The LTTE is notorious for its suicide bombings. Since the late 1980s, the group has conducted more than 200 suicide bombings—far more than any other terrorist group. Tamil Tigers have staged two thirds of all the suicide bombings in the world. LTTE suicide bombers have attacked civilians on mass transit, at Buddhist shrines, and in office buildings. In October 1997, a suicide truck bomb killed 18 people at the 39-story World Trade Centre in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital. Beyond suicide bombings, the LTTE have used conventional bombs against political, economical  and civilian targets and have gunned down both Sri Lankan officials and civilians. LTTE fighters wear cyanide capsules around their necks, so they can commit suicide if they are captured.
Related Stories:

THE UNTOLD STORY: Rajiv Gandhi's assassination

A secret mission to Sri Lanka

Appapillai Amirthalingam : 'Died for Tamil people's cause'

Murder of Neelan Tiruchelvam

Assassination of Jaffna Mayor Sarojini Yogeswaran

LTTE Terrorist attack on Colombo Airport
LTTE bomb attack on Central Bank, Colombo - 55 killed 1500 injured

LTTE bomb blast at Maradana - 50 killed 200 injured
LTTE bomb attack on Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of Tooth) in Kandy

LTTE Horror on Flower Road Colombo - 05 Januray 2000 - 13 killed

30 dead and 53 wounded in Rajagiriya LTTE attack - 10 March 2000

Murders, Massacares & Victims of War



No War, No Peace

Sri Lanka has been fortunate to survive without war for the past 3 years, and a sigh of relief passed across the country as it marked the third anniversary of the ceasefire agreement signed between the Government and the LTTE on February 22, 2002. Even ardent opponents of the truce acknowledge that the ceasefire and the absence of a full-scale conflict over the past three years has saved valuable lives and property. No-peace-no-war situation is expected to continue till the LTTE finds the correct political and military coordinates to take its next step. In Sri Lanka's conflict resolution exercise, it is the LTTE which still calls the shots. Read Full Story

Tackling the Tigers - The Indian Experience
India became involved in Ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka in the 1980's. The involvement was been motivated by a mix of issues. At the beginning India supported both sides in different ways. The unfortunate experience of the Indian Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF) in the island has been analysed in several accounts. During the three-year involvement, some 1,500 Indian troops were killed and more than 4,500 were wounded. Rajiv Gandhi, India's Prime Minister during their involvement, was assassinated on May 21 of 1991, by an LTTE suicide bomber. The assassination of Rajiv swung the pendulum to the other extreme. Indian support for the LTTE dropped to near zero. There is a sense of revulsion against Velupillai Prabakaran and the ideology of the LTTE throughout the country, but much more so in Tamil Nadu.

Read Full Story

Tackling the Tigers

India's Vietnam

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran with LTTE leader V. Prabakaran in February 1985. © Hindu


"Some prefer to call the so called "paradise on earth", this tropical island of Sri Lanka,  "The island of death". The 18 years of tragic conflict has claimed more than 60,000 souls and the war has become a way of life in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, more and more people have a vested interest in ensuring that it continues. Fortunes continue to be built on the war. While fashionably dressed teens of elite Sinhalese and Tamil families learn to drive their new Alfa Romeos in Colombo, and the smartly dressed young women are sitting around, sipping wine, giggling and watching male dance-strippers in swanky bungalows in posh parts of Colombo , the burden of war sacrifice falls on the poor, uneducated and unprivileged  villagers of Sri Lanka, who have provided most of the estimated 18,000 troops killed so far. Families of affluent and wealthy Tamils live in luxury in Colombo or in foreign countries while the poor and the neglected Tamil villagers, if lucky enough to survive the cruel war, are displaced several times and waiting in fear in refugee camps. They are harassed by the military and their children are kidnapped by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). Funds to the Tigers comes partly from the movement's worldwide chain of businesses, including shipping lines, travel agencies, shops and money changers, augmented by clandestine weapons and drugs smuggling. Over 7000,000 Tamil-speaking Sri Lankans are now living abroad and also fund the tigers. Pundits say expatriates give out of a sense of guilt over their affluence and security abroad, a tendency to romanticise a distant conflict, and fear." 

Read Full Story

The enigma of Prabhakaran 

Freedom fighter or megalomaniac?

He has a reputation as a fearless and ruthless guerrilla leader, and under his leadership, the LTTE, or Tamil Tigers, have become a highly-disciplined and highly- motivated guerrilla force. Prabhakaran is reputed to wear a cyanide capsule around his neck, to be swallowed in the event of his capture. To his followers, he is a freedom fighter struggling for Tamil emancipation. To his adversaries he is a megalomaniac with a brutal disregard for human life. (BBC)

Read Full Story
Wanted by Interpol
Tigers of Lanka

Caste, Class and Prabhakaran’s struggle

External Links:

South Asian Media Net



Peace in Sri Lanka

LTTE Peace Secretariat


EPDP Web Page
Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)


Stop Child Soldiers

SL Army



LankaLibrary Forum

Sri Lanka Betrayed

What happened to Rajiv Gandhi?

LTTE chief negotiator Anton Balasingham translates in Tamil a question posed by a journalist to LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran during his first media briefing in 12 years. The LTTE is on an image-building mission aimed at changing world opinion of its organisation as a terrorist group and the press conference in Wanni was part of this effort. Pic: Nimal Dayaratne / The Island 12th April 2002 (Courtesy:  http://www.crazylanka.com)

THE UNTOLD STORY: Rajiv Gandhi assassination



Military debacle at Elephant Pass

In a dramatic turn of events, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) captured the strategic Elephant Pass military base at the entrance to the Jaffna peninsula on 22 April, in Operation Oyatha Alaigal III (Unceasing Waves), thrusting President Chandrika Kumaratunge’s People’s Alliance (PA) government into a new crisis.

Elephant Pass has been a defence base for Jaffna since 1760, during Portuguese rule. A military camp was built in 1952. The Sri Lankan Army held the base even when the LTTE controlled the peninsula from 1986 to 1995. The camp was a vital spring board for Army offensives such as Operation Yal Devi (name of Colombo-Jaffna train) in September 1993 and Operation Sath Jaya (Truth’s Victory) in July 1996. Over 1,000 Tigers died in an attempt to take the camp in July 1991.


According to the LTTE, its forces killed more than 1,000 Sri Lankan troops in 48 hours of heavy fighting forcing the military to abandon the Iyakkachchi-Elephant Pass complex and to retreat north towards Jaffna town.

Read Full Story


1983 black July riots in Sri Lanka

Riots converted Sri Lanka into one of the most notorious killing fields in the world

The riots, which began in Colombo, spread to Gampaha, Kalutara, Kandy, Matale, Nuwara Eliya and Trincomalee, areas where Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils were concentrated. The `riots', which began on the night of July 24, 1983, saw Sri Lanka go up in flames by early August. The Government maintained that the violence was a spontaneous backlash of the killing of 13 soldiers in Jaffna by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
"Clearly this was not a spontaneous upsurge of communal hatred among the Sinhala people. It was a series of deliberate acts, executed in accordance with a concerted plan, conceived and organised well in advance." What, however, must not be missed is the silver lining: many Sinhalese risked their lives to save their Tamil friends from the marauding mobs.

Related Stories:


Remembering 1983

Welikade Tamil prisoners’ massacre



Kumar Ponnambalam

Kumar Ponnambalam was a man with certain tastes. He had a penchant for Mercedes Benz cars. The garage behind his house down Queen’s Road was full of them. His ancestral home was a virtual museum of antique furniture. He wore a thick gold bracelet around his right wrist and a gold chain with a talisman around his neck. On January 5, he forgot the talisman and wore a black band around the bracelet as he left the house around 9.45 am in the company of an unidentified person known only as Shantha. An hour later his body was recovered in Wellawatte. He lay dead on the wheel of one of his beloved Benzs. Two 9mm bullets had been fired from very close range, piercing his neck and the lower part of the head. Ponnambalam had died on the spot. Read Full Story 

The plan to assassinate Bangladesh Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina Wajed
How LTTE deal was blocked, suicide bombers failed to explode

When 34-year-old Nepal-based Manoj Srivastav, an agent of the Pakistani secret service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was arrested en route Kathmandu from Mumbai at the Kolkata airport on May 18, the police did not even know what it had in its net. Only after Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) officers started interrogating Srivastav following a lead from the executive diary confiscated from the ISI agent suggested a security disaster in India and the plot to assassinate then Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed. At a meeting on June 6, 1999 at St. James Court Hotel in London, the group finally gave shape to the assassination plan. They decided to pay $10 million for LTTE suicide bombers rather than assign the French for half the amount.  The logic was that the LTTE was more dependable and it hardly leaves any trace. What's more, Najmul Amin argued, the LTTE would be a better option because of "the sub-continental features" of its suicide bombers. They could easily pass off as Bangladeshis and, hence, could mix with the local populace. Read Full Story

Victims of the War

After many  years the tragic conflict, which has claimed more than 60,000 lives, war and confusion  have become a way of life in this tropical island nation and some people have a vested interest in ensuring the conflict continues. The burden of war sacrifice falls mainly on the poor and unprivileged  Sinhalese and Tamil villagers of Sri Lanka. The forgotten victims of this war are the innocent Sinhala and Muslim civilians who were killed and injured by constant attacks on civilian villages by the LTTE to drive them out of Northern and Eastern areas of the country to justify their claim of a  Home Land for Tamils’.

Politics - Sri Lanka Betrayed

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