Sri Lanka (Ceylon)

Sri Lanka (Ceylon)

Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Sri Lanka received its independence from Great Britain in 1948, after being a Crown Colony in the British Empire. The British had conquered the last independent Sinhalese kingdoms and placed the island under a single administration in 1815. Sri Lanka adopted a democratic constitution at independence and changed its name from Ceylon to Sri Lanka in 1972.

The island state of Sri Lanka has two major ethnic groups, the majority Sinhalese which are primarily Buddhist and the minority Tamils which are primarily Hindus. Politics in the newly born country were centralised, with the bulk of power being in the hands of a Sinhalese elite, which in the decades following on independence created several laws that were detrimental to Tamil representation and interests. Of primary importance became Tamil demands for non-discrimination and equal status for the Tamil language and culture. These demands were radicalised over the years, transforming into Tamil demands for self-government and independence in the areas where they are the dominant community.

Intra-state conflict broke out in 1983 as Tamil militant groups intensified actions against the government of Sri Lanka after several years of low-intensity conflict. The dominant Tamil group soon became the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which devoured its weaker opponents within the Tamil community. Several rounds of negotiations to resolve the conflict, and several announced ceasefires, have failed to settle the conflict over the status of what many Tamils feel is their righteous 'homeland'. In May 2009, after a period of intensive fighting, the government declared that the war was over. Almost the entire political and military leadership of LTTE had been killed and the group recognised defeat.

Another set of intra-state conflict, this one being over government power, began in 1971 when the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) took up arms against the government of Sri Lanka. The JVP was a communist group, which sought to topple the government in favour of a communist state. This conflict took place in stages, first in 1971 and then in 1989-1990.

When fighting in these two sets of intra-state conflicts the government of Sri Lanka, as well as the LTTE and the JVP, have also made use of one-sided violence against civilians.

A non-state conflict began in 2004, as the LTTE suffered a split in its movement. Soldiers under the command of a Colonel Karuna left the main LTTE group to form the LTTE-Karuna, which fought the LTTE for dominance over Sri Lanka's eastern parts.

Since 1946 Sri Lanka has experienced the intra-state, non-state and one-sided categories of UCDP organised violence.