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10 things to know about the Sri Lankan Tamils issue

world Updated: Mar 19, 2013 13:49 IST

With the DMK pulling out of the UPA government over the alleged war crimes against Tamils in Sri Lanka, HT takes a look at the essentials of the issue in the island nation.

10 things to know about the Sri Lankan Tamils issue:

1. Communal tensions between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities had been brewing since the early 1940s and intensified with the wave of Sinhalese nationalism and massive anti-Tamil riots in the latter half of the 1950s.

2. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was formed in 1976 as the self-styled "national freedom movement of the people of Tamil Eelam" and began a guerilla war on the government and administration. The war with LTTE officially started after the killing of 13 soldiers in 1983.

3. In 1987, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President Jayewardene signed the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord and Indian soldiers were dispatched to Sri Lanka as part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF).

4. Though many of the insurgents did agree to intermittent truce under the IPK, matters deteriorated soon and fighting erupted once again once the IPKF left in 1990. The LTTE was also implicated in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, allegedly in revenge of his aid to Sri Lanka.

5. The island state remained in a state of unrest throughout the 1995 to 2001 with brief intermittent spells of peace. Severe bombing and attacks in the northern and eastern parts of the country continued.

6. The government and LTTE signed a ceasefire with the Norwegians as mediators in 2002. Though peace is achieved for a short period with both sides making concessions, peace talks disintegrated soon. The ceasefire held for a while longer but violence escalated again with an LTTE suicide bombing in Colombo in 2004.

7. In early 2008, the government went on an all-out war against the LTTE, aiming to secure their complete and unconditional surrender. The UN estimates that 40,000 civilians alone died in the five months before the war's end in May 2009, when the Tigers surrendered.

8. In May 2009, the Sri Lankan government announced the LTTE officially defeated. Military said rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed in the fighting. The UN estimates that 40,000 civilians alone died in the five months before the war's end.

9. In March 2012, the United Nations passed a resolution urging Sri Lanka to investigate alleged abuses during the final phase of war with Tamil rebels. India voted against Sri Lanka, under pressure from parties from south India.

10. However, the Sri Lankan government were considered "inconclusive and lack the independence and impartiality to inspire confidence". Things became worse following the killing of Balachandran Prabhakaran, the 12-year-old son of Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the Tamil Tigers. Another similar resolution is scheduled to be moved in the UN Human Rights Council on March 21.