Daya Somasundaram

Increasing state humiliation and violence against the minority Tamils and refusal by the majority political elite to change their discriminatory policies brought out a militancy among the Tamils that was conspicuously absent before. It is important to understand the context under which the militancy was born and is being maintained. Accordingly the underlying socio-political and economical factors in the North and East of Sri Lanka that caused the militancy at the onset are examined. Some of these factors that were the cause or consequent to the conflict include, extrajudicial killing of one or both parents or relations by the state; separations, destruction of home and belongings during the war; displacement; lack of adequate or nutritious food; ill health; economic difficulties; lack of access to education; not seeing any avenues for future employment and advancement; social and political oppression, and facing harassment, detention and death. At the same time the Tamil militants have used various psychological methods to entice youth, children and females to join. From public displays of war paraphernalia, funerals and posters of fallen heroes, speeches and video, particularly in schools and community gatherings, heroic songs and stories, cleverly drawing out feelings of patriotism. Moreover, restrictions on leaving, training instilling a martial spirit and of course the oppressive actions of the Sri Lankan forces all have created a milieu where the Tamil people are psychologically compelled to join.
Thus if we are to meaningfully work towards an end to war and militancy, all these factors may have to be addressed.
This Abstract introduces a 5,471 word essay that was originally presented in December 2005 and has since been amended. We welcome comments based on a reading of this fuller version.


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