Essay on Sri Lanka Genocide Against Tamils

Published: 2021-06-29
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Vanderbilt University
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The Republic of Sri Lanka is one of the islands which is located South-east of India. It is in the Indian Ocean. This nation has its capital city as Colombo. The island is said to be wealthy and beautiful. It was colonized by several European powers including the Portuguese, the Dutch, British, and Ceylon. The country has been affected by social tensions since it gained her independence in 1948. Sri Lanka has been faced by several bloody wars due to the social tensions occurring between the majority groups that is the Buddhist Sinhalese and the minority neglected group which comprises the Hindu Tamils. The war has cost the lives of many people ranging from 80000 to 100000 people of whom many of them belong to the Hindu Tamil group. Luckily, the war ended in 2009 although it left violation and abuse of the human rights and mostly the division of the ethnic groups in the country. Therefore, the government of this nation has not been stable and able to support national unity to introduce ways and means to deal with the issue of ethnic division. Many civilians have been displaced from the nation due to the increased war incidences and abuse of the human rights. To some extent, the government, which is mostly composed of the Buddhist Sinhalese group, does support the war to reduce the numbers of the Hindu Tamils in the country (History of conflict in Sri Lanka, 1-2)

The Buddhist Sinhalese were the first group to form the government and therefore has taken full control of the nation. The group has been the cause of the social tensions and human rights abuse in the country which has constituted to major civil wars losing the lives of many Tamils and many other civilians displaced (Sri Lanka conflict profile Para 1)

The Origin of the Sri Lanka Riots

During the period of colonization, the Buddhist Sinhalese felt a sense of discrimination by the British power, and therefore a sense of nationalism grew in them. They felt that the Hindu Tamils were being treated better than they were and therefore tensions begun. By then, the population of the Sinhalese to the Tamils was approximately about 74% to 18% respectively. Therefore, this indicates that there was a huge number of Tamils in the country. After the independence, the Buddhist Sinhalese group formed the government. Due to their overgrown nationalism, the group had more power and larger part of the former state compared to the Tamils. The Sinhalese government brought in legislations which in turn marginalized the Hindu Tamil group who felt that they were neglected and had no power in authority. The government was also not on their side to support them and fight for their rights. Some of the legislations included the Official Language Act which was passed in 1956.

Furthermore, many of the legislations passed favored the Buddhist Sinhalese and therefore the Hindu Tamils were being looked down upon by the government. These are the two largest groups in the country and therefore, the Tamils, who made the minority groups, felt that they were being discriminated from the rest of the other team in the country. In return, this widened the gap between the two groups and hence increased violent riots, demonstrations and trained the relations of the two groups. As a result, these disturbances have increased the number of lives lost in the bloody civil wars between the two groups. Presently, the number of the Sinhalese group to the Tamils group is approximately 82% to 9%, and therefore, this indicates how many Tamils have been killed and many other civilians displaced from the country.

Buddhist Sinhalese have larger portion and power in the government, and therefore, this indicates how they have been able to torture and control the Tamils. Also, those in the government, in most cases are always the most powerful. In turn, they have been able to take monitoring of the nation and the human rights are curtailed to some group of civilians (Sri Lanka conflict profile Para 3)

The roots of the Sinhala-Tamil war are said to have entirely originated from the language Act which was passed by the Sinhalese government. The law indicated that the Sinhalese language, which was spoken by about 70% of the residents in the nation, was the national language. Therefore, the Tamils group who had no idea of the language was to learn it, since the Sinhalese had an aim to take full control of them. Therefore, the Tamils who worked in the public offices and did not know the Sinhalese language had to resign. The Tamils felt that they were being marginalized and neglected by the Sinhalese government. On the other hand, the government felt superiority over the Tamil group. This situation increased the nationalism of the Tamils and hence, war exploded in 1983. By then, the Tamils had formed their militant liberation groups which included the Liberation Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE). It was clear that they also received reinforcements from other Tamils in India, and therefore, to some point, India supported them in their war but withdrew later. Mostly, the Indian government involved itself in arming and training the LTTE military.

The situation became worse in July 23rd, 1983, when several soldiers of the Sri Lankan government were killed in an explosion. It was believed that the Tamils liberation groups had caused the deaths and therefore disastrous war emerged. The government was seen not to be taking part in responding to any deaths reported. The reason behind this was that the government had majority leaders from the Sinhalese group, and hence was supporting the Sinhalese groups to outdo the Tamil liberation groups. The war was very violent to the extent that the Sinhalese groups burned down and destroyed the Tamils' property. The Tamils groups had a hard time because the government offered the Sinhalese their war secrets and furthermore offered them transport to the war zones. This indicates how the Tamil groups had a hard time to out doing the Sinhalese since they received reinforcements from the government. It was clear that by the end of July, a lot of property amounting to approximately 300 dollars had been destroyed. Also, around 3000 Tamils had been killed in the war and 70% of them in the capital that is Colombo had become refugees.

The war was intensive to the point that it had displaced ten thousands of civilians and destroyed large property in the region. Many of the Tamils soldiers had been killed and others held in custody. At the beginning of the war, the Tamils occupied a larger percentage of the land and had had much control of the activities in the area. By 2009, they had lost almost everything in the war, and therefore those who survived were held in custody by the Sinhalese militants. Many of the civilians had also left the land due to increased riots (The World without Genocide Para 4-6)

Impacts of the Sinhala-Tamil war

By 2009, many of the Tamil militants had been outdone. Much of their property had been destroyed, and their areas of occupation had been taken control. The Tamil civilians who had fled the war settled as refugees in the camps were they were further subjected to harsh treatment and hardships. The private camps were controlled by the government. Most people in the camps included the Tamils, and therefore the government offered strict military security which involved limited access in aiding workers and reporters so as not to expose any information about anything that happened in the civilian camps. All the civilians were also denied the freedom of movement by the government and therefore could not access adequate and better health services. They could also not access better and enough nutrition and education.

Several neighboring countries which offered help and aid to Sri Lanka stopped, and therefore the country was facing hard times to control the population and provide for their needs. In turn, the government took responsibility for the Sinhalese residents and offered little support to the Tamils (The World without Genocide Para 10). Also, it was clear that the war had left many people facing inhumane actions such as bombings, others were cut in pieces, and many women were raped and killed. Many people had also been displaced (Genocide In Sri Lanka Para 39)

Later on, the Sri Lankan government banned the Tamil liberation movements. Any funds from the government which was said to develop the destroyed property in the Tamil's occupation were also banned. The government argued that the capital would support the liberation groups against the government. Therefore, it was clear that the majority group in Sri Lanka were the Sinhalese. As a result of the war, the Tamils were profiled and isolated from the rest of the society, and therefore it was easy for the government to mistreat them and subject them to life hardships. This also led to the division of the country's population into the Sinhalese group and the Tamil group. According to the felt and experienced outcomes of the war, the groups are never to unite gain and therefore one of the groups remains superior that is the Sinhalese group and the other Tamils group remains inferior (CAMPACC, p4)

It is also clear that education system in Sri Lanka was well developed to benefit the Sinhalese residents and not the Tamils groups. The official language used in the learning institutions was also made Sinhala, and therefore Tamils who could not speak the language fluently had to drop. This increased the number of illiteracy in the Tamils population since they had no access to education. Furthermore, the Tamils were denied access to adequate medical facilities and health care. Most of them suffered since they were denied the freedom of movement and hence many of them died. It also included the denial to access reporters and aid workers. This was more than harsh treatment.

Recently, the division has generated more injustices to the Tamils. It was once noted that doctors who were aligned with the Sri Lankan government performed abortion practices to the Tamils women without their consent. This was meant with a purpose to reduce the Tamils population and to counteract their population increase. The health workers also forced the mothers in the Tamil villages to accept implanted contraceptives or else they would not receive treatments and medical care in the future. The communities included Veraval, Karachi, and others in the Northern Province. This was primarily made by the government to control and subdue the Tamils. There have not been successful means of regaining peace in the region, and therefore the Sri Lankan government and the U.S government have declared the LTTE to be a terrorist group. (Legal case of Tamil genocide, 1-11)


It is very clear that the Sinhala Tamil war had adverse effects to all the residents. Mostly affected were the Tamil groups who tirelessly have fought for their rights only to be subdued in the end. Although they are part of the Sri Lank nation, they are curtailed many freedoms and resources including education, health care, support from aid workers and others. There have been various measures taken to end the social tensions between the two groups but under no success. Both the Sri Lankan government and the United Sates government have declared the LTTE to be a terrorist group. The civilians in the camps continue to suffer since the government is not ready to support them especially the Tamil population.

Work Cited

CAMPACC: The Tamils of Sri Lanka - oppressed at home and persecuted in the UK, (2010). (

History of the conflict in Sri Lanka. 2006 .web. Accessed 1 May 2017.(

Human rights brief. Resolution: Sri Lanka's Genocide Against Tamils. 2015. Web. Accessed 1 May 2017.(

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