The ethnic conflict between the Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka has ahistory spanning more than 100 years. It began when Sri Lanka was underthe British colonial rule, as resentment was created when the Tamilminority was privileged over the Sinhalese for jobs and educationalopportunities. The reversed happened when Sri Lanka becameindependent in 1948, as the Sri Lanka government passed the CeylonCitizenship Act and the 'Sinhala Only' Official Language Act, making lifeincreasingly difficult for the Tamils. Ethnic violence erupted during the1950s and 1960s as a result of the perceived unfair treatment. Furtherunhappiness was caused with the introduction of new and more stringentuniversity admission criteria for Tamils after 1970 to limit theirenrolment in university, as well as the resettlement policy implementedduring the 1950s, when Sinhalese peasants, and even the Sri Lanka Armymoved in and took over areas occupied by Tamils. The unjust treatment ofTamils was the impetus for the formation of the Tamil United LiberationFront, a new political party created to fight for Tamil rights. Out of thisarose the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ,a youth militant group whoadopted violence as a means to achieve their goal - to have a separate andindependent Tamil state.In 1948, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) enjoyed the highest literacy rate in Asia. Itdid not have the problem of over-population; its educational andtransportation systems were advanced. For some years, Ceylon was amodel for the world. But, today, it is an island known for its problems, andits reputation as a killing field only matched by that of countries such asRwanda.
- Adapted from a comment by an editor of a Tamil newspaper in 2003.
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