(16. September 2018)
This debate has been in progress since Lanka was granted independence by the British in 1948. It involves the disfranchisement of plantation Tamils in 1948, the passing of the Official Language Bill (better known as the Sinhala Only Bill) in 1956, the 1958 riots against the Tamil community and those in 1977, the two insurrections by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (Peoples Liberation Front – JVP) which were brutally suppressed, and the 1972 and 1977 constitutions, both of which stated that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist country. These are matters which the country’s elite have consistently downplayed.
1983 was a pivotal year in the history of post-independence Sri Lanka. It was in July of that year a pogrom against Tamils in the south and east of Sri Lanka was instigated. Their possessions and business were looted, their houses burnt, many women were raped and probably 2,000 people were killed. This resulted in an exodus of around 100,000 Tamils from the south. It is not surprising that the civil war began in earnest in its bloody aftermath. It ended only with the complete victory of the Lankan state and the annihilation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) twenty-six years later. During the conduct of the long civil war there were countless human rights violations by both sides, with the civilian population being caught in the middle. The conduct of the last phase of the war, known as Eelam War IV, came under particular scrutiny by the international community. It is this scrutiny that has angered that section of the Sinhala community that refuses to admit any fault on their own side.