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Lecture 20

POL328Y1 Lecture 20: Sri Lankan Civil War

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Kanta Murali

POL328 Lecture 20: Sri Lankan Civil War Political Economy: State-directed development in India How did politics affect policy choices? And in turn affect equality which in turn affects patterns of politics? Why Tamil politics shifted from political domain to making armed demands • In many cases, we can trace policy choices in terms of choice and social and human development Part 1: Sri Lanka Civil War Political Background: History of majoritarian trends • We need to look at evolution of civil war and ethnic outbidding • Ethnic outbidding = two main political parties try to attract majority support and essentially pursue policies of majoritarianism • Citizenship laws (1948-49) o began to alienate minorities to a certain extent and created ethnic tensions in early stages between the plantation Tamils who were affected by those citizenship laws o disenfranchisement of Sri Lankan Tamils • SWRD Bandarnaike and the rise of Sinhala nationalism o language policy and bill 1956 o Tamil protests and anti-Tamil riots in 1956 and 1958 • Srimavo Bandarnaike and the continuation of majoritarian trends (1960-65, 1970-77) o Bandarnaike begins to escalate minority fears even further o Sri Lanka constitution is amended o 1972 constitution and role of Buddhism o University quotas and Tamil youth alienation o other policies relation to language creates minority alienation in the 1970s • Escalation of ethnic tensions under Jayawardene o Jayawardene comes to power with a majority in 1977 election and in turn he continues similar practices of ethnic outbidding o prevention of Terrorism Act 1979 o 1978, constitution, executive presidency and centralization of power ▪ he shifted it from a Parliamentary system to executive which allows him to centralize power o UNP and violence • Gradual escalation of ethnic tension, but in 1970s, minority alienation grows Tamil Responses: from political to armed conflict • Political channels until the 1970s o in the 1950s and 1960s, accommodation and pacts limited tensions ▪ accommodation with SLFP or UNP and this kept ethnic tensions but kept them in check into full blown conflict ▪ by 1970s, more moderate Tamil parties begins to express more radical demands of autonomy calling for a separate Tamil homeland o by the early 1970, moderate Tamil groups coalesce around more radical demands for autonomy ▪ second sphere of Tamil politics develops and this spheres will come to represent Tamil politics [Tamil Tigers/LTTE] ▪ believe political space is closed and it’s through armed conflict and great autonomy ▪ the LTTE, there is a period in the 1980 where Tamil groups/LTTE represents Tamil nationalism until 2009 • Shift to armed conflict in 1970s o Some groups turn to violence by the early 1970s o formation of the LTTE o TULF and the 1977 elections ▪ electoral violence ▪ Tamil parties came together in a coalition – TULF and it stood in a platform for the north and east and they swept all parliamentary seats in the Tamil areas of north and east ▪ they were prevented from taking their place in parliament o Variety of Tamil separatist and political groups in the late 1970s o LTTE tactics and dominance over time ▪ began to assassinate leaders and eliminate other arm groups that would challenge them o increasing deployment of Sri Lankan security forces in north and east by late 1970s o the early 1980s, the political strand would become virtually powerless and arm strand that would take over and become the stronger force in Tamil politics o some of the reason why the arm strand takes over becomes of intro-Tamil politics itself • Jaywardene’s tenure and 1981, 1983 violence o 1983, the government encouraged violence against Tamils ▪ in 1981, these violence occurred in the key city of the Tamil areas in the north ▪ in this set of riots triggered by the killing of certain policemen and candidate of UNP, this in turn triggered destruction of Tamil properties ▪ in 1981, in these anti-Tamil riots, a mob tourched the library and this was symbolically view as a major loss because it held ancient Tamil manuscript [it was a direct attempt what was considered Tamil in Sri Lanka] o 1983 pogrom as a turning point o major turning point in alienation of Tamils o full blown civil war from 1983 onwards ▪ after 1983, it’s a full blown conflict between Sri Lanka and Tamil armed groups • LTTE dominance of Tamil groups by the mid-1980s o 1983—armed groups gained the upper hand over the political solutions o Tamil politicians vacate seats in parliament after 1983 riots o Vacuum in Tamil politics filled by LTTE o Intra-Tamil violence ▪ between armed groups itself and LTTE emerges as the hegemony force and claim to be the head of Tamil nationalism ▪ becomes single force that fights Sri Lanka government • Sri Lanka civil War: key events o LTTE formation 1976 o 1981 and 1983 riots o Meeting of Tamil parties in Thimpu 1984 o Indo-Lankan accord 1987 o IPKF withdrawal 1990 o Key failed peace talks 1990, 1994-95, 2002-2008 ▪ in the extent of how long civil war lasted was because peace negotiation failed ▪ in 1994, talks to tiger of autonomy of northern east ▪ in 2002, Norwegians brings the tiger and government together to sign an agreement ▪ but by 2004, the tigers have continued their campaign of violence though high level of violence escalate from 2004 onwards ▪ on the whole, peace negotiations or peace talks proved to be failures ▪ by 2007, north and east of island in the mist of civil war was controlled by tiers ▪ during height of civil war, the tigers established a state of their own ▪ at the height of tiger control where Sri Lankan government didn’t have a presence in north and east [was virtually controlled in the height of civil war] o Government offensive 2008-09 o LTTE defeat 2009 ▪ brought about end of civil war • Towards the last stages o Fissures in the LTTE ▪ break-away group (2006) led by one of the commanders of the LTTE who were controlling forces of the east of island ▪ he breaks away from LTTE which weakens their power in the last stages ▪ but 26 year brutal war had a brutal ending in 2009 o government offensive in 2008-09 ▪ finally defeats LTTE and leader is killed which brings to the end of civil war o controversy on last stages of war ▪ variety of attempts from the UN to bring perpetrators and government as well as armed groups • Consequences o Protracted civil war o estimates between 80,000-100,000 deaths o displacement, missing persons and refugees o human rights abuses and war crimes External dimensions of Sri Lanka’s civil war • Role of India (influence the civil war in early periods) o early links o support to Tamil groups o refugees ▪ in the 1980s and early 1990s , major refugee camps ▪ migration of Sri Lanka refugees went to India o attempts at mediation ▪ indo-Lanka accord of 1987 and IPKF ▪ in order to bring a
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