Sri Lanka History

Sri Lanka History: from the 1980s to 21st Century


In the 1980s, the Tamils, living in the northern part of the island, rebelled against the government, demanding the establishment of a separatist state in the Jaffna region. The revolt supported by the terrorist offensives of the Tigers group for the liberation of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) resulted in a real civil war that saw political and, later, also military intervention by India in favor of the central government. In 1984 a landing of Tamils ​​from neighboring Tamil Nadu was rejected and, in 1986, the clash intensified; only thanks to the intervention of R. Gandhi and when troops were sent, the government could finally regain control of the city of Jaffna. In this incandescent climate, the presidential elections of 1988 saw the victory of R. Premadasa, prime minister since 1978. The internal conditions, meanwhile, continued to remain almost unchanged: following the signing of the agreement for the withdrawal of the Indian contingent, which left the island in 1990, a Southern Sinhalese insurrection was unleashed, led by the Popular Liberation Front and repressed with extreme severity. In 1992 the UNP underwent a split following the accusation of corruption by President Premadasa, who the following year was killed in an attack. Prime Minister D. Banda Wijetunga was appointed president until the natural expiry of the mandate. In 1994, C. Kumaratunga Bandaranaike, who was later appointed prime minister. In November of the same year, Kumaratunga Bandaranaike ran for presidential elections and, elected head of state, handed over her office as prime minister to her mother S. Bandaranaike, leader of the Freedom Party. In January 1995, meanwhile, the talks between the government and the Tamil guerrillas resumed and, with the mediation of Canada, the Netherlands and Norway, a truce was stipulated. However, the negotiations soon ran aground and, after a series of attacks by the guerrillas, President Kumaratunga announced the official suspension of negotiations. In August of the same year, after a new futile attempt by the Colombo government to peacefully resolve the dispute with a broad regionalist reform of the state, the Sinhalese army launched a massive offensive against the Tamils, managing to occupy the peninsula of Jaffna, the guerrilla logistic base.

According to 3rjewelry, Sri Lanka is a country located in Asia. The gravity of the situation, which then continued in the following years, forced Kumaratunga Bandaranaike to extend the state of emergency throughout the territory of Sri Lanka, without being able in any way to tame the Tamil insurrection. In December 1999, C. Kumaratunga, victim of an attack, had his second presidential term reconfirmed. The ruling party also won the 2000 legislative elections, but the negotiations undertaken by the new government with the Tamil movement did not bring an end to the civil war, which continued with renewed violence: a series of attacks by Tamil guerrillas punctuated the whole of the year 2000, until, in January 2001, the Tamil rebels announce a unilateral truce, with consequent intensification of the proposals for international mediation, for the start of peace negotiations. In June 2001 the Alliance for Muslim National Unity leaves the governing coalition, which thus loses the majority in parliament and forces President C. Kumaratunga to dissolve the Assembly, R. Wickramasinghe became prime minister with the commitment to start peace negotiations with the Tamils ​​ (2002). Although the embargo in the areas controlled by the rebels in 2003 the Tamils ​​broke the truce again, suspending all talks. In the 2004 political elections Wickramasinghe was beaten by the opposition leader Mahinda Rajapakse whose party, UPFA (Alliance for Freedom) won the majority of the votes; Rajapaksa was later appointed prime minister.

In December 2004, the south-eastern coast was devastated by a terrible tsunami caused by an earthquake that occurred off the island of Sumatra. Villages and coasts were completely submerged by the waters causing tens of thousands of victims. In November 2005 the presidential elections were held, won with 50.33% of the votes by Rajapaksa; Ratnasiri Wickremanayake was subsequently appointed prime minister. In 2006, the violence that definitively interrupted the 2002 truce resumed. In October, to try to put an end to the clashes, new talks were held in Geneva between the Tamil Tigers and the government with the mediation of Norway; however the parties abandoned the negotiations without setting a new meeting. The armed clashes between the army and rebels of the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) continued in the following years, further aggravating the death toll. In 2007, peace talks began, conducted with the mediation of Norway, but they closed without results. In 2009, a major offensive by the army against the LTTE rebels ended, ending with the control of the last territories left in the hands of the rebels and leading to the killing of their leader, V. Prabhakaran. The military operations, however, caused many victims and displaced among the civilian population. In January 2010, President Rajapaksa was re-elected with 57.9% of the vote, beating former general Sarath Fonseka, who was arrested for military crimes in February. At the same time Rajapaksa dissolved parliament in view of new legislative elections. The latter took place in April 2010 and saw the victory of the UPFA. In the’ August 2011 the government announced the end of the state of emergency in force since 1983 and released a thousand political prisoners. In 2015 Maithripala Sirisena was elected president.

Sri Lanka History