The Sri Lankan Interlude


Introduction - The Origins of the Sri Lankan Civil War

After Sri Lankan independence there was a steady rise in Sinhala chauvinism. Like in many other countries, where a majority ethnic group is upset by the advancement of a educated and hard working minority the result was a "Sinhala only" policy. This drove the Tamils out of traditional job and opportunities. As the educated class had no land to fall back, frustration began building up. A methodical Sinhala wedge was driven between Vanni and Trincomalee district. With all major industries being handed to Sinhalas, the only economy to fall back on was smuggling. The Tamils were initially influenced by the Indian Freedom movements leadership like Gandhi, Nehru and Bose. But as the Indian method of peaceful mass resistance, satyagrahas, etc did not work the militancy of Netaji Bose provided the new approach.

To this day Netaji Bose is talked about in glowing terms. The high education state, accentuated political awareness, strong traditional pride and a growing sense of loss created an explosive mix. It led to the formation of various militant groups like the LTTE, ERPLF, EROS, etc. As the state responded heavy handedly the militants started hit and run tactics on the Sri Lankan Army and para-militaries. One such ambush caused the deaths of 13 soldiers. This triggered of major anti-Tamil riots in Colombo and elsewhere resulting in the massacre of hundreds of Tamils. This completed the separation of the two sides and a bitter civil war started.