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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Secessionist guerrillas : a study of violent Tamil insurrection in Sri Lanka, 1972-1987 Ravindran, Santhanam


In Sri Lanka, the Tamils' demand for a federal state has turned within a quarter of a century into a demand for the independent state of Eelam. Forces of secession set in motion by emerging Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism and the resultant Tamil nationalism gathered momentum during the 1970s and 1980s which threatened the political integration of the island. Today Indian intervention has temporarily arrested the process of disintegration. But post-October 1987 developments illustrate that the secessionist war is far from over and secession still remains a real possibility. This thesis focuses on the phenomenon of Tamil armed secessionism. To better understand the forces responsible for the armed secessionist insurrection, this, thesis analyzes the preconditions leading to the violent conflict between the minority Tamils and the majority Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. The consistent failure of the political system to accommodate the basic Tamil demands has contributed to the emergence of Tamil armed secessionism. Further, diverse factors have given impetus to the growth of Tamil secessionist movements. However, the three main political actors in the secessionist struggle — the Sri Lankan government, the Indian central government together with the state government of Tamil Nadu and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam — have had a major impact on the vicissitudes of the Tamil secessionist insurrection.

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