February 24, 2024


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Human Rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka

Human rights is a crucial issue these days, and that’s why it is so important to know about the human rights history in different countries. Read the following facts and ideas and use my admission essay discount code on the website if you need to get a similar essay.

Background Information

The Sri Lankan Civil War lasted for more than two decades, where the island nation was torn apart due to gruesome battles. The root cause of the Civil War was the ethnic and religious tension between Sinhalese Buddhists and Tamil Hindus, which had remained prevalent since the country’s independence in 1948. The several decades of ethnic tension might have started with a low-level insurgency in July 1983, but it soon escalated with three waves of Eelam wars from 1983 to 2009. In May 2009, the Sinhalese government in Sri Lanka declared victory over the LTTE (Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam) forces, and the Tamils admitted their defeat. While people in Sri Lanka expressed a sense of relief due to the end of devastating conflict after 26 years, the atrocities from both sides caused 100,000 deaths.

 It has been nearly a decade from the end of the Civil war, but the ethnic tensions in Sri Lanka remain predictably grim. The cases of human rights abuses still emanate from the Northern and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka, which are not controlled by the Sri Lankan government. The Sri Lankan military (99 percent) and police (95 percent) are mainly Sinhalese, and they perform their actions without any sense of accountability. Out of the nineteen divisions of the Sri Lankan Army, sixteen are based on the East and North, and they control the majority of the land, resources, and businesses. In 2009, after the military conflict ended, the Sri Lankan military had 170,000 members. However, within a few years, the military size has ballooned to 300,000. The domination of Sri Lankan military in North and East Sri Lanka can be understood with the ratio of civilians to soldiers in the region 5:1, and a case of in Vavuniya the ratio is 3:1. The Sri Lankan police and military are blamed for several human rights violations of the Tamils in the area.

Historical Analysis

The LTTE fought for a separate Tamil state in Northern and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka from 1983 to 2009. However, after they were defeated, the Tamils were left at the mercy of the Sinhalese. Even today, the root cause of the ethnic conflict remains unresolved, as the Sinhalese politicians are uninterested in resolving the issue and the Sinhalese military maintains tight control over the North and East parts of Sri Lanka. Under their control, human rights abuses have become standard for the Tamils. Also, the Sinhalese government and the military continue marginalizing the Tamils, which ensures the violent nature of the conflict is tough to overcome.

The Tamil people of North and East live a life of insecurity and fear, as they are forced to accept the rules of the Sinhalese military and police. Justifiably, the Tamils are afraid of the police forces and army, as they run the region under armed control. Also, the Tamils have become increasingly afraid of the Sinhalese settled in their region, as the police and the armed forces support them. The Tamil paramilitaries also work with the Sinhalese government and people have also failed to trust their friends and family, which keeps them under fear of arrest and persecution. Tamils are living in insecure homes, which has become a major human rights problem. The police and armed forces can anytime kick their door down and sexually assault its residents – including children.

Tamils have also lost their land and businesses to the Sinhalese government and military forces. The military controlled 70,000 acres of land under the Rajapaksa administration, which was previously owned by Tamils. While there are some signs of change, especially under Sirisena administration, as 2,000 acres of land was released to the Tamils. However, it is only a small tract of land occupied by the Sinhalese military, and the released land is infertile. The majority of the fertile land in the North and East remains in the control of the military even today. Tamils have been pushed out of the fishing and agriculture industry, which leaves them on the verge of economic extinction. The inhumane land grab performed by the Sinhalese risks the permanent demographic damage of the Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka and leaves Tamil people destitute in their country.

Human Rights Issues

Even after the Civil war ended, the human rights abuses in Sri Lankan Tamils is visible with the continued use of the ancient PTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act), which helps in the continued use of torture, inhumane prison conditions, persistent militarization, institutionalized impunity, and a transitional process of justice. Also, Sri Lanka is failing to make good on commitments made to UNHRC for establishing justice, truth, and reparation mechanisms. The constitutional reform process of Sri Lanka was initiated in 2016, as lawmakers fail to agree on issues like the executive presidency, economic, cultural, and social rights of Tahitians in the Bill of Rights, and the place of Buddhism in the Sri Lankan constitution. Overall, there is a failure of legal procedure in Sri Lanka, which ensures the Sinhalese Buddhist dominate the Tamil Hindus.

Even today, there are several cases of arbitrary detentions and arrests, as the Sinhalese military continues detaining Tamils under the PTA who are suspected of association with the LTTE. Also, there is extended detention and shifting the burden of proof on detainees who allege ill-treatment or torture. Also, there are several reports of torture of detainees under police custody, which has become a routine practice of the Sinhalese military throughout the Northern and Eastern parts of the country. The country is failing to take action that promotes and provides fundamental freedom and human rights to the Tamil minority. According to a human rights commission, around 80 percent of the Tamils arrested under PTA had complained about ill-treatment and torture.

 Human rights abuse is also evident as there are several cases of excessive use of force against Tamil civilians. Several unarmed demonstrators have been killed for making basic demands such as clean water, but the cases remain unprosecuted. Also, the evidence is often destroyed in cases by the police to protect their cadres. Besides, there are several enforced disappearances, which is due to the lack of legislation that protects people from falling victim to the heeds of the police. Several Tamil people have disappeared without any records of arrests, and their families are left with no hope of ever meeting them again. There is an ongoing debate in the Sri Lankan parliament on the criminalization of enforced disappearance, but such discussions are often postponed, and legislation remains delayed.

Several members of the Sinhalese military have been provided impunity, despite their involvement in human rights violations. Even today, the Sinhalese army is provided full impunity by the government and their criminal activities are not regulated. Cases of human rights abuse from the days of the Civil War are still not in court, and there is no hope of solving the issue. There are also cases of discrimination, as law enforcement officials have continued subjecting Tamils, especially former LTTE members, to profiling, harassment, and surveillance. Several cases of violence against girls and women have been reported against the Sinhalese army, as they are involved in cases of domestic violence, child marriage, rapes, and human trafficking cases against the Tamil minority.  Despite committing such gruesome crimes, it seems unlikely that the Sinhalese army would face time in court. As a result, the UNHRC remains concerned with the lack of effort from the Sri Lankan government.


Rank 1: Amnesty International.   

Amnesty International is the leading source of information on the topic, as has been provided the first rank due to the importance of the organization and the role it plays in protecting human rights all over the world.

Rank 2: The Colombo Telegraph

The second rank is provided to the Colombo Telegraph article, which explains the human rights issues in the country. The author mainly focuses on the geographical nature of the conflict and international intervention is needed to overcome the human rights crisis.

Rank 3: The Lowry Institute  

The third rank is provided to the Lowry Institute, which is an Australian think tank that focuses on national security and foreign policy issues. The source highlights several factors that clarify how Sri Lanka has failed in protecting human rights to the Tamil minority.

Rank 4: Thought Co

The Thought Co article is provided the fourth rank, as the credibility of the source is limited. As part of the Dotdash publishing family, Thought Co is one of the sites maintained for sharing information on several subjects.