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What led to the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict in Sri Lanka?

The Tamil-Sinhalese conflict in Sri Lanka was primarily sparked by ethnic, political, and economic disparities between the two groups.

The roots of the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict in Sri Lanka can be traced back to the colonial era. The British, who ruled Sri Lanka from 1815 to 1948, implemented a policy of divide and rule, favouring the Tamil minority in administrative matters. This led to resentment among the Sinhalese majority, which was further exacerbated after independence when the Sinhalese-dominated government implemented policies perceived as discriminatory by the Tamils.

One of the key issues was language. In 1956, the Sri Lankan government passed the Sinhala Only Act, making Sinhalese the sole official language and effectively marginalising the Tamil-speaking population. This was seen as a direct attack on the Tamil identity and culture, and led to widespread protests and riots.

Another major factor was education. The government introduced a policy of standardisation in 1971, which was seen as disadvantaging Tamil students in university admissions. This policy, coupled with perceived discrimination in employment, led to a sense of marginalisation and disenfranchisement among the Tamil youth, many of whom turned to militancy.

The economic disparities between the Sinhalese-dominated south and the Tamil-majority north and east also played a role in fuelling the conflict. The government's development policies were seen as favouring the south, leading to economic deprivation in the Tamil areas.

The conflict escalated into a full-blown civil war in 1983, following the killing of 13 Sri Lankan Army soldiers by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a militant group fighting for a separate Tamil state. The war lasted for 26 years, resulting in significant loss of life and displacement.

In conclusion, the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict in Sri Lanka was a complex issue with deep historical roots. It was driven by a combination of ethnic, political, and economic factors, and was further exacerbated by government policies perceived as discriminatory by the Tamil minority.

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