“How Far Was the Resettlement of Sinhalese Peasants to Tamil Areas a Cause of the Conflict Between Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka? Explain Your Answer.”

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  • Topic: Sri Lanka, Tamil language, Tamil people
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  • Published : April 3, 2013
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The conflict in Sri Lanka was due to the various policies introduced by the Sinhalese-dominated government after independence which favoured the Sinhalese, causing the Tamils to feel that they were discriminated against. Besides the resettlement issue, there were also the citizenship rights issue and the language policy.

Another cause was the citizenship rights issue. After independence, the Sri Lankan government passed the Ceylon Citizenship Act of 1948. It granted citizenship only to those who or whose forefathers were born in Sri Lanka. As a result, many Indian Tamils found themselves stateless as they did not meet this requirement to become citizens. Despite the agreement with India to allow some of the Indian Tamils to return to India while the rest were to be granted Sri Lankan citizenship. However, the agreement was not fully carried out due to the outbreak of ethnic violence and as many as 100,000 Indian Tamils found themselves stateless. This caused the Indian Tamils to be very upset. They had lived in Sri Lanka for years and contributed significantly to the economy by working in tea plantations, yet they were denied basic rights like education, jobs, housing and voting because they were not citizens. They felt that this was unfair to them, which was a cause of the conflict, but despite so they continued to work on the tea plantations. It served as an important cause for the Tamil Tigers to fight for a separate independent state so that they would not be discriminated against in Sri Lanka.

Another cause was regarding the ‘Sinhala Only’ policy. Before independence, the English-educated Tamils held powerful jobs in the government service despite being the minority because of their good command of English. The Sinhalese were disadvantaged as they were mostly poor in English. In 1956, Sinhala was declared as the country’s official language under the Official Language Act., hence it was used as the only language of administration in Sri Lanka. Tamils in...
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