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Tamil Tigers

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are a group of Tamils in Sri Lanka who want a separate state in the North and East of the country. Tamils, who formed under 30 per cent of the population of Sri Lanka, felt that the governments of Solomon and Sirimavo bandanaraike had discriminated against them by promoting Sinhala as the official language (Sinhalese and Muslims form 70 per cent of the population) and Buddhism as the national religion. Anti‐Tamil riots in 1977, 1981 and 1983, in which the militant JVP played a leading role, were the severest the country had seen. Most Tamils were not violent but the Tigers waged guerrilla warfare against the government and initially used bases in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Tigers effectively controlled the Jaffna peninsula in the North of Sri Lanka and from 1984 increased their attacks on unarmed Sinhalese, carrying out bomb attacks in Colombo. The Indian government became involved when the Indo‐Sri Lankan Accords were made in 1987 by Prime Minister Rajiv gandhi of India and President Jayawardene of Sri Lanka. An Indian peace‐keeping force, initially of 7,000 troops, was to be sent to the Jaffna peninsula to end hostilities there. The Tigers were to hand over all their weapons and Tamil and English were to have equal status with Sinhala as official languages. The Accords met with violent protests from the Sinhalese majority ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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