chapter  22
8 Pages

Conflict Mediation: Ethnic and Political Conflict

WithRobert C. Oberst, Yogendra K. Malik, Charles H. Kennedy, Ashok Kapur, Mahendra Lawoti, Syedur Rahman, Ahrar Ahmad

The conflict grew out of a long-standing sense of deprivation felt by the country's Tamil population. For the first time since independence, a Sri Lankan government acknowledged that the political system was not providing the Tamils with a fair role in the system. In the 1970s the United Front government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike became concerned with the superior performance of the Tamil students. Quotas based on the size of each ethnic community were set, and university exams became a disputed issue. The emergence of the Federal Party as the dominant party in the Sri Lankan Tamil areas was the result of its strong advocacy for federalism and regional autonomy for the Tamils. The Federal Party's demands for greater autonomy were fueled by several concerns. The first was the language issue. A second concern has been education. A third concern pertains to employment. A fourth concern has been the Sinhalese colonization of traditional Tamil areas.