To What Extent Is Citizenship Rights Responsible for the Conflict Between Sinhalese and Tamils?

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  • Topic: Sri Lanka, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Tamil language
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  • Published : July 23, 2012
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. To what extent is citizenship rights responsible for the conflict between Sinhalese and Tamils?

The Sinhalese and the Tamils have been having conflict in Sri Lanka. Most of the issues revolve around the discriminatory policies against the Tamils practiced by the Sri Lankan government which prefers Sinhalese, the majority.

One of such policy is the citizenship rights. In 1948, when Sri Lanka gained independence, only those born in Sri Lanka or whose forefathers were born there were given Sri Lankan citizenship. This caused many Indian Tamils to be stateless, although they have contributed significantly to Sri Lankan economy. They resent the government and this was one of the sparks that ignite the conflict between the Tamils and the Sinhalese. Since 2003, though, this issue had been resolved, making this an irrelevant cause for the present conflict.

Another policy is the ‘Sinhala Only’ language policy. Sinhala was to be used as the only language in government officer. Tamils who work in the government offices are to learn Sinhala in three years or face retrenchment. This upset many Tamil civil servants as it was very hard for them to learn Sinhala. This policy seems to discriminate Tamils and thus aggravate the resentment between the Tamils and the Sinhalese.

University admission criteria is another unfair policy practised by the Sri Lankan government. Since the 1970s, Tamil students have to score higher than Sinhalese students in order to enter the same course in the universities. This system does not agree with the principle of meritocracy and upsets Tamil students who found it difficult to get into universities. Many youths thus, seeing no future, decided to join LTTE, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, to fight for their rights and to gain an independent Tamil state from Sri Lanka. The fuelled resentment between youths makes the conflict much worse since it now affects the younger generation, making the conflict continues to the next generations....
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