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Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka

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Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka

The Tamil Tigers immigrated to Sri Lanka from southern India and made up ten to fifteen percent of the population. The Tigers were the minority when compared to the Sinhalese, who represented seventy-five percent of the population. Right away there was ethnic conflict due to religion and language. Since the Tigers had their own language this created tension between the two.

Sri Lanka gained their independence in 1948. This gave the Sinhalese intense political power. Sri Lanka's official language was English, but had been replaced by the Sinhala language in 1956. This was a significant advantage for the Sinhalese in securing government jobs. Yet, this created even more hostility for the Tigers. Though the Sinhalese felt victimized when the Tigers obtained equal legal status.

In 1949, the Tamil leaders demanded a federal system that would provide their regions substantial independence. This pushed the Sinhalese to attempt imposing their language on the entire nation. The Sinhalese, although were the majority, suffered from a minority complex. This was due to the millions of Tamils living on the nearby Indian mainland. The Tamil Tigers became violent when the Sri Lankan government tried getting them and their families to return to India.

The Tamil Tigers are also known as LLTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). They were a very powerful force engaged in guerrilla warfare and terrorism. They used illegal methods to raise money and acquire weapons. They raised more than sixty million dollars annually smuggling immigrants and drugs into Europe and the U.S.

In 1983, they relied on a guerilla strategy when they started the conflict with the Sri Lankan government. This included the use of terrorist tactics. The Tamils killed thirteen soldiers and the Sri Lankan government killed hundreds of Tamils. This caused many of the Tamils to flee to South India. The attacks between the two went on for years. In 1987, the Sri Lankan government offered some sort of compromises pertaining to power and language. There were several attempts made to resolve the conflicts, but they failed.

In 1991, the Tamil Tigers were responsible for killing Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi with suicide bombing. Then in 1993, they assassinated Sri Lankan President Premadasa. Throughout the years and by the mid years of 2000, there has been an estimate of 62,000 people killed thus far. "In January 1995, the government and the Tigers agreed a truce, but this only lasted for a short period as the Tigers saw the proposals as inadequate and fighting resumed." (

In October 1995, the government tried to convince the Tigers to reconsider. They started taking important territory; such as the Jaffna Peninsula. The Jaffa Peninsula is an area in Sri Lanka where the water is used for drinking and agriculture. Since the Tigers have a significant amount of resources, they were not giving up and they continued to attack. They used suicide bombers to attack the military bases.

In 1997, the U.S. State Department added the Tamil Tigers to their list of terrorist organizations. They prohibited their activities and fund raising in the United States. The Tigers response was that they would continue to escalate the war. Nothing seemed to prevent them from trying to obtain what they wanted.

The president of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Kumaratunga, said the attacks would not discourage her efforts in trying to resolving the war. President Kumaratunga proposed legal changes to give independence to all Sri Lanka's region; even those dominated by the Tamil Tigers. Her offer failed, because it is not what the Tigers wanted. So, the war still continued.

The Tigers were using young girls as suicide bombers. They figured they would most likely to get past security with the bombs strapped to their bodies. The human rights groups condemned the Tigers for doing this. Throughout the war, there had been over two hundred suicide bombings.

In 2007, Sri Lankan government was responsible for the thousands of people who have been



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