Mahavamsa : die große Chronik Sri Lankas

0. Einleitung

4. Landeskunde Sri Lankas

5. National Security

verfasst von Mahanama

übersetzt und erläutert von Alois Payer


Zitierweise / cite as:

Mahanama <6. Jhdt n. Chr.>: Mahavamsa : die große Chronik Sri Lankas / übersetzt und erläutert von Alois Payer. -- 0. Einleitung -- 4. Landeskunde Sri Lankas. -- 5. National security / von Robert J. Levy. -- Fassung vom 2006-06-29. -- URL: -- [Stichwort].

Hauptquelle (diese ist als solche zu zitieren!):

Sri Lanka : a country study / Federal Research Division, Library of Congress ; edited by Russell R. Ross and Andrea Matles Savada. -- 2nd ed.  -- Washington, D.C. : The Division, 1990. -- XXXIII, 322 S. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Rev. ed. of: Area handbook for Sri Lanka / Richard F. Nyrop ... [et al.]. 1970.  -- "Research completed October 1988." -- Online: -- Zugriff am 2006-06-23]

Erstmals publiziert:  2006-06-29


Anlass: Lehrveranstaltungen, Sommersemester 2001, 2006

©opyright: Public Domain

Dieser Text ist Teil der Abteilung Buddhismus von Tüpfli's Global Village Library

5. Chapter 5 - National Security (Robert J. Levy)

5. Chapter 5. National Security

SRI LANKA HAS since earliest times been within the security orbit of its massive northern neighbor. Successive waves of invasion from the kingdoms of ancient India brought the majority of the Tamil and Sinhalese inhabitants to the island, while the overwhelming military power to the north historically has been the dominant external threat. In its distant past, Sri Lanka on a few occasions was able to project military power beyond its own shores to participate in the struggles of south India. For most of its history, however, and for all of the twentieth century, Sri Lanka's security posture has been a defensive one, responding with a greater or lesser degree of internal unity to the threats of the outside world. Together with India, Sri Lanka was swept along in the regional conflicts of world powers, undergoing domination in turn by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British.

Since independence in 1948, the nation has attempted to balance an external policy of nonalignment with an increasing reliance on Western development aid and an institutional affinity to British political and legal systems. While retaining membership in the Commonwealth, Sri Lanka reclaimed military bases granted to the British under a 1947 defense agreement and has attempted to insure its security by maintaining good ties with both the Western and communist worlds. Within the South Asian region, India continues to play a dominant role in Sri Lankan strategic consciousness and is perceived as the primary long-term external threat.

New Delhi's role in Sri Lankan national security has been further complicated by the direct involvement of Indian troops in the island nation's internal ethnic conflict in the late 1980s. Although this conflict is sometimes traced back to the mythical prehistory of ancient Sri Lanka, it emerged on the modern scene with the resurgence of Sinhalese nationalism in the 1950s, and by the early 1980s it constituted the single most serious threat to the nation's security. In addition to occasional outbreaks of large-scale civil violence between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities, the government has been faced with subversion and armed attacks from a changing array of terrorist organizations representing both Sinhalese and Tamil interests.

The armed forces were slow in responding to this threat. At the time of independence, Sri Lanka had only a small, volunteer reserve force led primarily by British officers. After the establishment of the Royal Ceylon Army, Navy, and Air Force in the years following independence, the country continued to rely on volunteers to provide for its security; its small armed forces served mainly to assist the police in the maintenance of public order. Two major events in the 1970s and 1980s forced the government to break with this past practice and to give a higher priority to defense issues. The first was the 1971 insurrection by the People's Liberation Front (Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna--JVP) that caught the army largely unprepared and forced the government to rely on foreign military assistance to restore order. The second event, the communal rioting of July 1983, left thousands of Tamil civilians dead and fueled a Tamil insurgency strong enough to wrest control of the Jaffna Peninsula from the Sri Lankan government. Faced with these challenges, the government made important changes in the structure and size of the armed forces. It instituted a national draft in 1985, intensified its recruitment and training efforts, and devoted a greater percentage of the budget to its growing military needs.

In spite of these improvements, the Sri Lankan government found itself unable to deal with the military, political, and fiscal pressures caused by the Tamil insurgency. In July 1987, President Junius R. Jayewardene and Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi signed an accord providing a political solution to the conflict and allowing Indian peacekeeping troops to enforce the cease-fire and laying down of arms in the Northern Province. Continuing conflict on the terms of the accord led to a resumption of fighting in September 1987, with the Indian troops participating as active combatants in support of the Sri Lankan government. By December 1987, the Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) had increased to 30,000 troops, and Sinhalese political groups expressed a growing impatience at the extended presence of Indian forces. Although these troops were purportedly fighting on behalf of the Sri Lankan government, many Sinhalese still viewed them with grave suspicion and saw their continued presence as a challenge to Sri Lankan sovereignty.

Like the Sri Lankan armed forces, the national police experienced major changes as a result of the deterioration of public order in the 1970s and early 1980s. Previously an unarmed force organized along British lines, the police force was greatly expanded and provided with a variety of firearms in the wake of the 1971 uprising. The Tamil insurgency in the Northern and Eastern provinces prompted the creation of the Special Task Force, a police field force that played a major role in antiinsurgent operations in the 1980s. At the same time, the regular police force was supplemented by the formation of a local militia known as Home Guards.

The challenge of both Sinhalese and Tamil insurgent movements also brought substantial change to the criminal justice system. After an initial liberalization in the wake of the 1977 elections, the United National Party (UNP) government moved to expand the powers of the police, the armed forces, and the courts at the expense of civil liberties. Through emergency regulations and a variety of antiterrorist provisions, the government imposed temporary restrictions on the fundamental freedoms embodied in the Constitution.


The most immediate threats to Sri Lankan national security in 1988 were internal rather than external. The Tamil insurgency was the most severe of these, involving a changing number of heavily armed terrorist groups that carried out attacks on military and civilian targets throughout the island and, for most of 1986, actually controlled the Jaffna Peninsula (see fig. 1). A second source of instability came from leftist nationalist Sinhalese groups opposed to Tamil autonomy. The chief among these, the JVP, launched a short-lived insurrection in 1971 that came close to toppling the government of Sirimavo R. D. Bandaranaike. After a period of open participation in the political system, the JVP resumed its violent antigovernment activities in the 1980s, and expanded its following considerably at the time of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord of July 1987. The government also faced a growing problem of civil violence that seriously threatened the democratic process. This unrest stemmed not only from the continuing ethnic conflict but also from a general economic malaise that increasingly prevented young men from playing productive roles in society (see Labor , ch. 3). The problem of a restless, unemployed youth, although separate from the ethnic difficulties, was instrumental in providing a fertile recruiting ground for extremists in search of a following.

Throughout the 1980s, external threats to the nation's security were long term rather than immediate and tended to involve the rivalry between regional and world superpowers for influence over the Indian Ocean. The port of Trincomalee, one of the best natural harbors in the world, has long been attractive to foreign nations interested in Indian Ocean bases. India has expressed a determination to prevent either the United States or the Soviet Union from establishing a naval presence there, and the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord helped confirm the Indian claim of regional leadership.

5.1.1. The Tamil Insurgency

Political and economic conflict between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities was a problem of growing urgency in the years following independence. In the face of an expanding Sinhalese ethnic nationalism, Tamil groups initially expressed their grievances through legally constituted political channels, participating in parliamentary debate through the Tamil Congress and the Federal Party. In the early 1970s however, a number of events worked to create a new sense of alienation, especially among Tamil youths, and a new desire to seek redress through extralegal means. In 1970 the Ministry of Education introduced quotas for university admission that effectively reduced the number of places available for Tamil students. As a result, a contingent of young, educated Tamils was cut off from the traditional path to advancement and set loose on an economy illprepared to accommodate them.

Tamil interests received another blow in 1971 when the Constituent Assembly met to draft a new constitution. Federal Party delegates to the assembly proposed that the new republic be designed along federal lines to insure a large degree of autonomy for Tamil areas. In addition, the Tamils hoped to remove the special status that had been granted to the Sinhala language and Buddhism. The Constituent Assembly not only rejected both of these proposals, but even denied the minimal protection to minorities that had been guaranteed under the Soulbury Constitution of 1946. The Tamil delegates responded by walking out of the assembly.

The neglect of Tamil interests in the Constituent Assembly and the enactment of the new constitution in 1972 marked a turning point in Tamil political participation. The older generation of Tamil leaders had been discredited: their activity in the political process had accomplished little, and the Marxist JVP insurrection of 1971 had set a new model for political activism (see The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna , this ch.). Two new groups emerged as an expression of the growing alienation and frustration in the Tamil community. The first, the Tamil United Front, was a coalition of Tamil interest groups and legal parties united by an urgent call for Tamil autonomy. The group espoused nonviolent means to achieve its goals--demonstrations, strikes, and roadblocks--and yet it offered tacit support to other, more confrontational tactics. The second of the new groups, the Tamil New Tigers (TNT), abandoned the political process altogether and geared itself for violence. The TNT was founded in 1972 by Velupillai Prabhakaran, an eighteen-year-old school dropout who was the son of a minor government official. Both the name and the emblem of the new group included the tiger, the traditional symbol of the ancient Tamil kingdoms and one that clearly opposed the lion symbol of Sinhalese nationalism. Despite this obvious ethnic affiliation, the TNT publicly espoused a Marxist ideology and claimed to represent the oppressed of all ethnic groups.

In July 1975, the TNT gained wide public attention with the assassination of the Tamil mayor of Jaffna, who had ordered the police to open fire on a Tamil rights demonstration outside city hall. Except for this act of violence, the activities of the TNT in this period are largely undocumented, and little evidence exists of widespread public support for its violent methods. Moreover, the prospects for a political solution had improved by 1976; the general elections scheduled for 1977 offered hope that the fiercely pro-Sinhalese Bandaranaike government could be ousted and replaced by the more moderate United National Party. At the local level, the Tamil United Liberation Front, a political party, spawned by the Tamil United Front, launched a major campaign for a separate state in Tamil-dominated Northern and Eastern provinces.

The victory of the United National Party and the emergence of the Tamil United Liberation Front as the leader of the parliamentary opposition seemed to give substance to those political hopes. With the enactment of a new constitution, however, it became clear that no major party could turn its back on Sinhalese nationalism. In the Constitution of 1978, as in the previous one, Sinhala remained the sole official language, Buddhism retained "the foremost place" under law, and federal autonomy was denied the Tamil areas. The political disillusionment that emerged in the early 1970s increased after the 1977 elections and gained added impetus after the anti-Tamil riots of 1981 and 1983. A progressive radicalization of the Tamil population led to a growth in the size and level of activity of militant groups, and the insurgency emerged as a growing threat to the power of the government. Insurgent Groups

The largest and most influential of the Tamil insurgent groups was the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Eelam is the original Tamil name for Sri Lanka). Founded in 1972 as the Tamil New Tigers, the group changed its name in 1976 as it accelerated its violent campaign for Tamil independence. The growth of the insurgency in the late 1970s brought with it an increasing fragmentation as personal, caste, and tactical differences divided the original movement. One of the earliest groups to break away was the People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (known variously as PLOT or PLOTE). The group was formed in 1981 by Uma Maheswaran, a disgruntled member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who had major disagreements with LTTE leader Prabhakaran. The new group claimed to represent a purer form of Marxist orthodoxy. Although ideological disputes may have been involved in the split, caste also seems to have played an important role; LTTE members were largely from Karaiya and low-caste urban backgrounds, whereas PLOT contained mostly Vellala, a high-caste rural group (see Caste , ch. 2).

A host of other groups emerged in the early 1980s. Like the LTTE, most of these organizations espoused a Marxist ideology that appeared prominently in their publications but seemed to play only a minor role in their activities and indoctrination. Chief among these new groups were the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front, the Tamil Eelam Liberation Army, the Tamil Eelam Army, and the Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students (EROS). Known collectively as "Tigers" or simply "the boys," these groups operated in changing patterns of competition and cooperation, forming a variety of coalitions (such as the Eelam National Liberation Front and the Three Stars). Through a series of armed attacks, the LTTE eliminated TELO, a major rival, and by late 1986 had established itself as the dominant, if not the sole, spokesman of the Tamil insurgency.

Financial and technical support for the Tamil movement came from a variety of domestic and foreign sources. Internally, the Tigers relied on "taxes" either willingly donated or extorted from the local populace which were supplemented by a number of bank robberies. External support came from Tamils overseas, most notably in southern India, North America, and Western Europe. Many of the insurgent groups maintained headquarters and training facilities in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where the state government and a predominantly Tamil population were sympathetic to their insurgent brethren in Sri Lanka. Official Indian support was curtailed sharply, however, following the signing of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord in July 1987. There were also unconfirmed reports that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had provided training at its installations in the Middle East.

"This is a list that documents the numerous groups of Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups that were formed to fight the state of Sri Lanka to create an independent Tamil Eelam. This list is an evolving list as new groupings emerge and old ones wither away.


These groups arose due the failure of the traditional non-violent political protest of the Tamil elites to secure fair settlement from the national government for the alleged grievances of the Tamil minority and the increasing racist vehemence and violence of Sri Lanka state against its own minority Tamil people. Tamil militants in general were referred as potiyal or our boys or puliyal or tigers by the local Tamils. Sri Lankan state has always referred to them in the Sinhalese language as Thrasdavadi or extremists or terrorists.

Distinguishing characteristics

The distinguishing characteristics were the sheer number of groupings formed essentially within the Jaffna peninsula which prior to 1983 had just over a million people. Many were Marxist in orientation but not all, and most were seen by neighboring powers such as India as a means to control the foreign policy initiatives of then pro-western Sri Lankan government. Hence the numerous groups were easy pickings for foreign intelligence agencies to infiltrate and control (See Research and Analysis Wing)

Internecine conflicts

Even at an early stage, one could notice the efforts by the leadership of the LTTE to deploy violence and murder to control the mushrooming of groups. Although the results have ended with LTTE as the only non state actor fighting on behalf of the Sri Lankan Tamil people albeit with depleted manpower and entrenched Tamil enemies within the folds of an essentially anti-Tamil, Sinhalese majority oriented Sri Lankan state.

LTTE deployed extreme violence against many of the groups, thus decimating many of them. Currently only the LTTE is relevant as an extra state actor in Sri Lanka, where most of others have joined the Tamil nationalist TNA or the Sri Lankan government as Para militaries or as minor political parties.

Student organizations
  • TSL – Tamil Students League [Tamil Manavar Peravai] (1970), founded by Ponnuthurai Satyaseelan. See also, TYL.
  • TYL – Tamil Youth League [Tamil Ilaignar Peravai] (1973), the progenitor of Eelam Tamil militancy.
  • GUES – General Union of Eelam Students, part of EROS and forerunner of EPRLF.
Major groups
  • LTTE Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகள்] - Only remaining Tamil nationalistic group.
  • EPRLF Eelam Peoples Liberation Front - Part of TNA.
  • EPDP Eelam Peoples Democratic Party - Pro government group and a political party accused of being a para-military.[1]
  • TELO Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization - Once decimated by the LTTE, part of TNA.
  • PLOTE Peoples Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam - Minor stand alone political party accused of being a para military and vehemently denied by the group unlike others.
  • ENDP Eelam National Democratic Front - Created with the help IPKF now active in India in refugee settlements in Orissa.
  • EROS Eelam Revolutionary Organization - Part of LTTE.
  • TEMVP LTTE splinter group,pro-government group accused of being a para-military.
  • ICMM - Indo Ceylon Merger Movement (Inththiya Ilanggai Innaippu Iyakkam).(1971-1980)
  • TNT - Tamil New Tigers (Puthiya Thamil PulikaL). (1972-1978) part of LTTE
  • TLO - Tamil Liberation Orgagnization.(1974-1978)
Militant fronts
  • Upsurging People's Force Considered to be a front of LTTE.
  • Ellalan Padai - Considered to be a front of LTTE.
  • Ravanan Padai - Considered to be a front of LTTE.
Political front parties
  • TSK – Tamilar Suya-Aadchi Kazhakam (1969), of V. Navaratnam; a splinter group of ITAK.
  • ETOM – Eela Thamilar Ottrumai Munnani (1960), of C.Suntheralingam; a one-person band, which became a minor constituent of the TULF.
  • DPLF – Democratic People's Liberation Front, the political wing of PLOTE, of D.Siddarthan.
  • PFLT – People's Front of Liberation Tigers (1989), now defunct political party of the LTTE.
  • ENLF – Eelam National Liberation Front (1985-1986), a short-lived union of the LTTE, EROS, TELO and EPRLF. LTTE wiggled out of this union.
  • TELF – Tamil Eelam Liberation Front (1982), of S.C.Chandrahasan, M.K.Eelaventhan, journalist Kovai Mahesan and Dr.S.A. Tharmalingam; a splinter group of the TULF.
  • ENDLF – Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (1987), a group created by RAW from PLOTE, EPRLF and TELO.
Minor groups
  • ELDF – Eelam Liberation Defence Front.
  • ELO – Eelam Liberation Organisation (1975).
  • ELT – Eelam Liberation Tigers.
  • EM – Eagle Movement, of Gnanavel.
  • ERCP – Eelam Revolutionary Communist Party.
  • GATE – Guerrilla Army of Tamil Eelam.
  • NLFTE – National Liberation Front of Tamil Eelam, which according to Taraki, was a small but influential Maoist group that was based largely in Jaffna, which "drove down the road to perdition by splitting hairs over the question of whether it should first build an armed wing or a mass political movement."
  • PLFT – People's Liberation Front of Tamil Eelam, a splinter group of NLFTE.
  • PLA – People's Liberation Army, the military wing of EPRLF, Lead by current EPDP leader Douglas Devananda. Important achievement of the PLA was the 1984 kidnapping of American couple Stanley Allen and his wife, Mary Allen from Columbus, Ohio, in Jaffna.
  • PLP – People's Liberation Party.
  • RCG – Red Crescent Guerrillas.
  • RELO – Revolutionary Eelam Liberation Organisation.
  • RFTE – Red Front of Tamil Eelamists. (1984)
  • RW – Revolutionary Warriors.
  • SRSL – Socialist Revolutionary Social Liberation
  • TEA – Tamil Eelam Army (1983), of Panagoda Maheswaran.
  • TEC – Tamil Eelam Commando.
  • TEDF – Tamil Eelam Defence Front.
  • TEEF – Tamil Eelam Eagles Front.
  • TELA – Tamil Eelam Liberation Army (1982) of Oberoi Thevan; a splinter group of TELO. Following the assassination of Thevan in 1983 by the LTTE, TELA was absorbed by PLOTE.
  • TELC – Tamil Eelam Liberation Cobras (1983), a short-lived Batticaloa-based group. As per Taraki, "It was widely known as the Cobra Army (Naaha Padai)".
  • TELE – Tamil Eelam Liberation Extremists, which Taraki identified as "led by one 'TELE Jegan.' He was shot dead by the LTTE.
  • TELG – Tamil Eelam Liberation Guerrillas.
  • TENA – Tamil Eelam National Army (1983), of Amirthalingam Baheerathan.
  • TERO – Tamil Eelam Revolutionary Organisation, of Sudan Ramesh; a splinter group of TELO.
  • TERPLA – Tamil Eelam Revolutionary People's Liberation Army, of Thangarasa.
  • TESS – Tamil Eelam Security Service.
  • TLO – Tamil Liberation Organisation (1969), the progenitor of TELO.
  • TNC – Tamil National Council (1989).
  • TNT – Tamil New Tigers (1972-1976); renamed the LTTE.
  • TPCU – Tamil People's Command Unit.
  • TPDF – Tamil People's Democratic Front.
  • TPSF – Tamil People's Security Front.
  • TPSO – Tamil People's Security Organisation.
  • TEBM – Tamil Eelam Blood Movement."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2006-06-29] Major Incidents of the Insurgency

After the assassination of Jaffna's mayor in 1975, the militant groups accelerated their campaign of violence and destabilization. Their early targets included policemen, soldiers, and a number of Tamil politicians who were seen as collaborators with the Sinhalese-dominated government. The attacks were sporadic, relying largely on hit-and-run tactics.

In July 1983, the LTTE ambushed a military convoy in Northern Province, killing thirteen soldiers. The attack sparked off a conflagration of communal violence in which approximately 350 Tamils were killed and as many as 100,000 were forced to flee their homes. Indiscriminate violence by Sinhalese mobs and members of the security forces led to insecurity and alienation among the Tamil population, and support for the insurgency grew dramatically. The year 1984 was marked by a substantial increase in terrorist attacks, and the militants turned increasingly against civilian targets. Major incidents included an armed attack against civilians in the ancient Sinhalese city of Anuradhapura (May 1985--146 dead); the detonation of a bomb aboard an Air Lanka jet at the Bandaranaike International Airport (May 1986--20 dead); and a massive explosion at the Pettah bus station in Colombo during rush hour (April 1987--110 dead).

As the Tamil movement grew and obtained more weapons, it changed tactics. A full-fledged insurgency that could confront the armed forces replaced the isolated terrorist incidents that had characterized the early period. By early 1986, the LTTE had won virtual control of the Jaffna Peninsula, confining the army to military bases and taking over the day-to-day administration of the city of Jaffna. In January 1987, the Tigers attempted to formalize their authority over the peninsula by establishing an "Eelam Secretariat." LTTE leaders claimed that this was intended simply to consolidate functions that the insurgents were already performing, i.e., collecting taxes and operating basic public services. Nonetheless, the government interpreted this move as a unilateral declaration of independence and thus a challenge to governmental authority.

In response, the government launched a major offensive against Jaffna in May and June 1987. The security forces succeeded in destroying major insurgent bases and regaining control of most of the peninsula, but at the cost of growing political pressure from India. Reports of army brutality and high civilian casualties among the Tamil population made the offensive increasingly unacceptable to the Indian government, which had its own substantial Tamil minority to worry about. In early June, Indian Air Force planes invaded Sri Lankan airspace to drop relief supplies into embattled Tamil areas, sending a message to the Sri Lankan government that the offensive would not be allowed to continue. Within a week, the Sri Lankan government announced the successful completion of its campaign.

On July 29, 1987, President Jayewardene signed an accord with India designed to bring an end to the more than ten years of violence between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil minority. The accord provided for the disarming of militant groups under the supervision of the Indian Peacekeeping Force and the granting of limited autonomy to the primarily Tamil regions in Northern and Eastern provinces. The terms of the accord provoked immediate criticism from a number of directions. For Sinhalese nationalists, including several high-level officials in Jayewardene's government, the agreement was a threat to the unitary nature of Sri Lanka, virtually sanctioning a separate Tamil nation within the island. Tamil militants questioned the basic validity of the accord; although prime participants in the conflict, they had not been included in the negotiations leading to the accord, and their later accession had been secured under extreme pressure from the Indian government. For the wider community of Tamils and Sinhalese, the presence of Indian troops, even in a peacekeeping role, represented an unacceptable compromise of sovereignty.

These criticisms became increasingly acute when, in October 1987, the Tamil militants and the Indian-Sri Lankan forces accused each other of violating the accord, and the fighting resumed. Indian forces were expanded from an initial 3,000 troops to more than 70,000, and the Indian Peacekeeping Force launched a major assault that succeeded in taking Jaffna in late October (see Foreign Military Presence , this ch.). Most of the insurgents managed to escape and, according to press reports, regrouped in Mannar in Northern Province and in Batticaloa and other areas of Eastern Province. Weakened and cut off from their original bases and sources of supply, the Tigers were no longer able to conduct positional warfare against the security forces, but they claimed that they would continue their struggle through terrorist attacks.

The intervention of Indian forces in the north allowed the Sri Lankan Army to concentrate on another crisis that was developing in the south; Sinhalese nationalist opposition to the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord had turned violent, breaking out in strikes and street demonstrations. In the midst of this disorder, an old Sinhalese extremist organization was gaining in support and threatened to launch its second bid for power.

"The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka is an ongoing conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils on the island-nation of Sri Lanka. Since the 1983 "Black July" pogrom, there has been on-and-off civil war, mostly between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகள], or the LTTE, who want to create an independent state of Tamil Eelam [தமிழ் ஈழம்] in the north-east of the island. It is estimated that the war has left 65,000 people dead since 1983 and caused great harm to the population and economy of the country. A cease-fire was declared in 2002, but new violence in late 2005 led to fears of a renewed civil war.

Sinhalese argue that Tamils received preferential treatment under British rule (1796-1948). By the time of independence, there were more missionary built schools in the principal Tamil-dominated city, Jaffna [யாழ்ப்பாணம], than in the rest of the island. This meant that there was a disproportionate number of Sri Lankan Tamils in the civil service, medicine and law in post-independence Sri Lanka. Sinhalese nationalists claim that this showed that the Tamils had benefited from favoritism; and although some nationalists do not agree with this view, many historians agree that the roots of the conflict stem from a "divide and rule" policy adopted by the British Raj during their occupation of Sri Lanka.

A watershed in Sri Lankan politics was the Sinhala Only Act of 1956, which made Sinhala the sole official language, restricted many government jobs to Sinhala speakers, and made changes in university admissions policies, which reduced the number of Tamils getting higher education. Although this policy was promptly expanded to give equal status to Tamil as a national language, it is widely held that it created a rift between the two ethnic groups by undermining the confidence that Tamil people had in the majority Sinhalese.

While many have been led to believe that the struggle between Tamils and Sinhalese has been a permanent historical feature of political life in Sri Lanka, this is not so. Before the colonial era, there were local kingdoms in Kotte, Kandy [මහ නුවර] (both nominally Buddhist and largely Sinhalese) and Jaffna (Hindu and Tamil in its orientation). There were also some Tamil dominated areas in the Eastern Province, but these were under Kandyan control.

Historical invasion by the south-Indian Tamil king Ellalan or Ellare was reported as an epochal conflict between Tamils and Sinhalese by the near mythical Mahavamsa which led to a brief period of South Indian rule in the north, but he was defeated in battle by the Sinhala king Dutugamanu. Later, Pallava, Chola, Pandya and Kalinga kingdoms from India invaded and dominated the country from time to time along with periods of intense commercial and cultural interactions. These invasions have been retrospectively interpreted as an age old enmity between two ethnic groups by later historians. Many Sinhalese castes (see Caste in Sri Lanka) derive from South Indian immigrants who have happily assumed Sinhala Buddhist identity.

There is a sizable population of Tamils in the Central Province, descendants of plantation laborers from India imported by the British colonial authorities in the nineteenth century. These Indian Tamils, as they are called, still work mainly in Sri Lanka’s money making tea plantations. They have been locked in poverty for generations and continue to experience poor living conditions. Originally, they were the chief targets of Sinhala nationalism. Many were deprived of their citizenship in the late 1940s, and there were repeated attempts to repatriate them to India. Although they speak the same language, they are usually considered a separate community from the Sri Lankan Tamils of the North and East.

In the decades after independence, Tamils politicians pushed for a federal system through the Federal Party. The concept of a separate nation, Tamil Eelam, was proposed by the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) in 1976. TULF was a coalition of parties who went on to campaign in the 1977 elections for an independent state for Tamils in Sri Lanka. They won and went to Parliament to represent the northern and eastern provinces. The government banned TULF representatives from parliament for advocating an independent state. Frustrated by the ongoing politics, Tamil youth started to form militant groups, some funded by bank robberies, and military presence in the north also grew.

A deadly attack on the military in the north by Tamil groups sparked riots in Colombo [කොළඹ in Sinhala; கொழும்பு in Tamil], the capital, and elsewhere in July 1983 (see Black July Pogrom). The riots are alleged to have been planned in advance. Between 1,000 to 3,000 Tamils were killed, and many more fled Sinhalese-majority areas. This is usually considered the beginning of the ethnic conflict. In 1985, peace talks between the Tamils and the government failed, and the war continued. In 1987, government troops pushed the LTTE fighters to the northern city of Jaffna, which remains a center of LTTE activity to this day. In April 1987, the conflict exploded with ferocity, as both the government forces and the LTTE fighters engaged each other in a series of bloody operations.

In July 1987, the LTTE carried out their first suicide attack: "Captain Miller" of the Black Tigers drove a small truck with explosives through the wall of a fortified Sri Lankan army camp, reportedly killing forty soldiers.

Initially there was a plethora of resistance groups. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's position, adopted from that of the PLO [منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية], was that there should be only one. Over time the LTTE merged with or largely exterminated almost all the other militant Tamil groups. As a result, many Tamil splinger groups have ended up working with the Sri Lankan government as paramilitaries, and there remain legitimate Tamil-oriented political parties opposed to LTTE's vision of an independent Tamil Eelam.

Indian involvement

India became involved in the 1980s for a number of reasons – its leaders' desire to project India as the regional power in the area, worries about India's own Tamils seeking independence, and a genuine concern for the Sri Lankan Tamils' plight. The latter was particularly strong in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu [தமிழ் நாடு], where ethnic kinship led to deep sympathy for the alleged discrimination against Sri Lankan Tamils. In the 1980s, the Indian central and state governments supported both sides in different ways, although it is widely believed that India provided the LTTE and other Tamil guerilla groups with monetary and training support.

India became more actively involved in the late 1980s, and in 1987 the Indian Air Force airdropped food parcels to Jaffna while it was under siege by the Sri Lankan forces. Negotiations were then held, and the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord was signed on July 29, 1987, by Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi [राजीव गान्धी] and Sri Lankan President Jayewardene. Under this accord, the Sri Lankan Government made a number of concessions to Tamil demands, which included devolution of power to the provinces, merger—subject to later referendum—of the northern and eastern provinces, and official status for the Tamil language (this was eventually enacted as the 13th Amendment). India agreed to establish order in the north and east with an Indian Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF) and to cease assisting Tamil insurgents. Militant groups including the LTTE, although initially reluctant, agreed to surrender their arms to the IPKF.

The Sri Lankan government was facing a mostly unrelated uprising by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in the south, and called in the Indian military immediately after the agreement was signed. The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was formed, and initially oversaw a cease-fire and modest disarmament of the militant groups. The Sri Lankan government pulled its troops south and put down the JVP rebellion.

As time went on, however, the Indian forces began to meet with stiff opposition from all sides. None of the concessions agreed to in the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement were implemented by the Government of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government, fearing a large scale rebellion, began to grow wary of the presence of IPKF. Simultaneously, nationalist sentiment led many Sinhalese to oppose the continued presence of the IPKF. These led to the Sri Lankan government's call for India to quit the island, and they allegedly entered into a secret deal with the LTTE that culminated in a ceasefire. However, the LTTE and IPKF continued to have frequent hostilities, and according to some reports, the Sri Lankan government even armed the rebels willing to see the back of the Indian forces. Casualties mounted and eventually India pulled out its troops in March 1990.

Support from India dropped noticeably in 1991, after the assassination of a recently ex-Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, by a woman suicide bomber (Thenmuli Rajaratnam) widely believed to be an LTTE member and a victim of IPKF terror. India remains an outside observer to the ongoing peace process, with frequent demands to press for an extradition of Velupillai Prabhakaran [வேலுப்பிள்ளை பிரபாகரன்], leader of LTTE, even if a peace deal is struck between the parties in the future. India's central government has been firmly against the LTTE, although they do still speak up for Tamils' rights.

In the 1980s and 1990s, successive governments officially revoked some of the discriminatory policies, and recognizing Tamil as an official language. Sinhalese and Muslims today claim they are reverse discriminated. Tamils deny the latter claim, and see the changes that have been made as too little too late.

The 1990s

The LTTE took significant parts of the north as the IPKF withdrew, and established many government-like functions in the areas under its control. LTTE attacks on the government continued, and they scored a major victory when one of their suicide bombers killed Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in May 1993.

Amidst great hope, in 1994 elections brought the Sri Lanka Freedom Party to power on a peace platform. After failed peace talks, the government pursued a "war for peace" line, and retook Jaffna (the largest city the north). Repeated attempts by the government to take control of the land route from the south to Jaffna gained ground but ultimately failed. The LTTE then rolled the government out of much of the territory it had taken, but never succeeded in re-taking Jaffna.

The Government forces often attacked civilian buildings such as temples, churches and schools in a bid to stem the growing resistance. These were often safe havens for terrorists fleeing the air raids and their destruction resulted in a high amount of Tamil civilian casualties. In one particular incident in August 1995, Sri Lankan Air Force jets bombed Navali's St. Peter's church, killing at least 75 refugees.

LTTE suicide and time bombs were exploded numerous times in populated city areas and public transport, killing hundreds of civilians. In January 1996, the LTTE carried out their deadliest suicide bomb attack, at the Central bank in Colombo, killing 90 and injuring 1,400. In October 1997 they bombed the Sri Lankan World Trade Center and, in January 1998, detonated a truck bomb in Kandy, damaging the Temple of the Tooth, one of the holiest Buddhist shrines in the world. In response to this bombing, the Sri Lankan government outlawed the LTTE and with some success pressed other governments around the world to do the same, significantly interfering with their fund-raising activities.

From July 1, 1999 to December 20, 1999 the LTTE intensified its attacks on the Sri Lankan armed forces in an attempt to liberate and consolidate territory. The LTTE launched 17 successful attacks in the region which culminated in the overrunning of the Paranthan Chemicals Factory base and the Kurrakkan Kaddukulam base. Thousands were killed. The rebels also advanced north towards Elephant Pass and Jaffna. The LTTE was successful in cutting all land and sea supply lines of the Sri Lankan armed forces in the town of Kilinochchi [கிளிநொச்சி] and surrounding areas. In December 1999 the LTTE tried to kill the Sri Lankan President, Chandrika Kumaratunga. She lost one eye, among other injuries.

At the same time, the suicide rate on the island climbed to become first in the world per capita.

A significant peace movement also developed in the 1990s, with many organisations holding peace camps, conferences, trainings and peace meditations, and many other efforts to bridge the two sides at all levels.

After securing a vast area controlled by the government forces the LTTE further advanced northwards. This advancement of the LTTE was posing a serious threat to the Elephant Pass military complex that housed 17,000 troops of the Sri Lankan forces. On April 22, 2000 the Elephant Pass military complex, which had separated the Jaffna peninsula from the Wanni mainland for 17 years, completely fell in the hands of the LTTE., Tigers Seize Elephant Pass.

Tentative peace 

Approximate extent of area under the control of the LTTE, as of December 2005

In 2000 the LTTE began to declare their willingness to explore measures that would safeguard Tamils' rights and autonomy as part of Sri Lanka, and announced a unilateral ceasefire just before Christmas 2000. Their July 2001 assault on Bandaranaike International Airport destroyed 8 of the air force's planes (2 IAI Kfirs,2 Mil-17,4 K-7 trainers) and 4 SriLankan Airlines planes (2 Airbus A330s,1 A 340 and 1 A320), dampening the economy and causing tourism to plummet. Sri Lankan hopes for a military solution also faded. In parliamentary elections toward the end of the year, the United National Front (UNF) came to power on a peace platform.

For the first time since the 1978 constitution introduced a strong presidency, one party held the Presidency (Chandrika Kumaratunga, Sri Lanka Freedom Party) and the other, Parliament (with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, United National Party). This co-habitation was extremely uneasy. The new government reciprocated another unilateral LTTE ceasefire offer at the end of 2001. The LTTE are believed to have taken this action after fear of international pressure and even direct US support of the Sri Lankan Government as part of the War on Terror. The two sides formalized it in a Memorandum of Understanding signed in February 2002. Norway is mediating, and, together with the other Nordic countries, it also monitors the ceasefire through the SLMM. Many other countries are offering substantial financial support if peace is achieved.

Some Sinhalese and Muslims have refused to support any concessions unless the LTTE disarms and becomes a democratic political entity.

The LTTE temporarily pulled out of the peace talks in 2003, saying that insufficient attention was being put on developing an interim political solution. The government eventually produced a proposal, and the LTTE a counter-proposal, which President Kumaratunga responded to by taking over several defense-related ministries. Peace talks remained suspended. In 2004 she took over additional ministries and dissolved Parliament, calling an election, which brought her United People's Freedom Alliance to power.

During the election, LTTE commander Colonel Karuna of Batticaloa [மட்டக்களப்பு]-Ampara split from the group's main leadership, claiming insufficient resources and power were being given to Tamils of the eastern part of the island. The LTTE officially sacked him, small-scale violence erupted, and tensions were extremely high. After the election, brief fighting south of Trincomalee led to a rapid retreat and capitulation of the Karuna group, their leaders eventually fleeing to Colombo. It has now been revealed that a ruling Muslim politician was involved with Karuna's escape.

The Asian tsunami of late 2004 killed more than 30,000 people in the country. It was hoped that the disaster would bring the warring sides together, but the conflict continued.

Renewed violence

Until 2005, the cease fire between the LTTE and the government largely held. However, the situation was complicated by allegations that both sides were carrying out covert operations against the other. The government claimed that LTTE rebels were killing opponents and government soldiers and getting away with it, while the rebels accused the government of supporting paramilitary groups against the organization.

The foreign minister of Sri Lanka, Lakshman Kadirgamar, was killed by a sniper on August 15, 2005. The government blamed the LTTE, but no retaliation was made.

In the 2005 presidential election, the UNF candidate, Wickremasinghe, advocated reopening talks with the LTTE. The UPFA candidate, Mahinda Rajapaksa, called for a tougher line and renegotiation of the ceasefire. The LTTE openly called for a boycott of the election by the Tamils, but, believing the Tamils were getting ready to vote in large numbers, the LTTE was accused of using violence and intimidation to enforce the boycott. Losing the chance to get a large number of Tamil votes meant a loss for Wickramasinghe and a narrow win for Rajapakse. Despite being seen as a hardliner, Rajapakse promised to pursue peace and new talks with the rebels.

LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, in an annual address in November, stated that the Tigers would "renew their struggle" in 2006 if the government did not take serious moves toward peace.

Violence escalated in December 2005. Increased guerrilla activity included claymore mine attacks, clashes between the Sea Tigers and the Sri Lankan navy, and the killings of sympathizers on both sides. Prominent figures were targeted for assassination, including Joseph Pararajasingham [யோசப் பரராஜசிங்கம], a pro-LTTE MP gunned down at a Christmas Mass. This violence left around 200 people dead. The LTTE, following their standard practice, denied responsibility for the attacks, blaming "armed civilian groups" for them. Other incidents such as assassination of Tamil journalists and civilians led the SLMM to question whether a ceasefire can still be said to exist. Observers believed that if serious steps are not taken towards peace, the country would return to war.

Another round of talks

In light of this renewed violence, the co-chairs of the Tokyo Donor conference called both parties to come to the negotiation table. The co-chairs—the United States in particular—were heavily critical of the LTTE violence. US State Department officials, as well as the US ambassador to Sri Lanka, gave warnings to the Tigers claiming a return to hostilities would mean that the Tigers would face a "more determined" Sri Lankan military.

In a last-minute effort to salvage an agreement between the parties, the Norwegian special envoy Erik Solheim and the LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham came to the island. The parties severely disagreed on the location of the talks; however, these last-minute efforts produced a breakthrough when both parties agreed the talks could be held in Geneva, Switzerland.

On February 7, 2006, Sri Lanka's government and the LTTE agreed to peace talks in Geneva definitively on February 22 and February 23. These talks were reported to have gone "above expectations", with both the government and the LTTE agreeing to curb the violence and to hold talks in April.

Over the next few weeks following the talks, violence dropped significantly. However, beginning in early April, violence increased. Assassinations, mine attacks, and ethnic violence in Trincomalee threatened talks in Geneva scheduled for April 19-21. The LTTE called for a postponement of the Geneva talks until April 24-25, and the government initially agreed to this. Following negotiations, both the government and the rebels agreed to a civilian vessel transporting the regional leaders with international truce monitors. The eastern commanders for the LTTE were to have travelled north for an internal meeting on April 16, 2006. The journey involved rebels and ceasefire monitors crossing government-controlled territory. However, the climate shifted drastically when the Tamil Tigers cancelled the meeting, claiming to have not agreed to the navy vessels' escort. According to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, the Tamil rebels had agreed to the Sri Lankan navy vessels' escort. "It was part of the agreement. The rebels should have read the clauses carefully. We are frustrated," said Helen Olafsdottir, spokesperson for the SLMM. (BBC)

Escalated violence ensued in mid April with suspected Tiger attacks, ethnic riots and unsolved murders. An attack on military vehicles using a claymore anti-personnel mine killed 10 navy sailors on April 11th. The following day, coordinated bombings by rebels and rioting in the north-eastern part of the country left 16 dead. A claymore anti-personnel mine exploded in Trincomalee, killing 2 policemen in their vehicle. Another blast, set off in a crowded vegetable market, killed 1 soldier and civilians. Ensuing rioting by civilians left more than a dozen dead. (BBC). Responsibility for these attacks was claimed by an organisation called the Upsurging People's Force [பொங்கி எழும் மக்கள் படை], which the military accused of being a front for the LTTE.

On January 5, 2006, five Tamil students were killed by the Sri Lankan Army. Apart from these incidents, more than 100 Tamils were murdered by the Sri Lankan armed forces and paramilitary.

On April 20, 2006, the Tamil Tigers officially pulled out of peace talks indefinitely. While the LTTE state that transportation issues have prevented them from meeting their regional leaders, analysts and the international community held a deep scepticism, seeing the transportation issue by the rebels as a delaying tactic to avoid attending peace talks in Geneva. (Reuters)

On April 23, 2006, six Sinhalese rice farmers were executed in their paddy fields by suspected Tamil Tigers terrorists in the northeastern Trincomalee district. (AlertNet) The following day, two suspected Tamil Tiger rebels were shot dead in Batticaloa [மட்டக்களப்ப] while being caught planting mines after rebels reportedly hacked a young mother to death and kidnapped her infant. (BBC)

International condemnation against the LTTE was repeated following an incident on April 25, 2006, as Anoja Kugenthirasah, a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber attacked the Sri Lankan Army headquarters in the capital, Colombo, killing 10. Twenty-seven were injured, including the army commander Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, as the attacker detonated her concealed explosives near the military's hospital. The Sri Lankan military began aerial assaults on rebel positions in the north-eastern part of the island nation. (BBC)

Following this incident, the Sri Lankan government air force dropped bombs in Muthur, a Tamil village, and killed at least 12 people. Around 20,000 Tamils were displaced due to this random bombing.

On May 10, the Sri Lankan Navy allegedly killed 13 Tamils, including two children, in Jaffna. Human right organizations condemn this incident.

New talks were scheduled in Oslo, Norway, for June 8-9."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2006-06-26]

5.1.2. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna

Abb.: ®Logo

The leftist Sinhalese Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna drew worldwide attention when it launched an insurrection against the Bandaranaike government in April 1971. Although the insurgents were young, poorly armed, and inadequately trained, they succeeded in seizing and holding major areas in Southern and Central provinces before they were defeated by the security forces. Their attempt to seize power created a major crisis for the government and forced a fundamental reassessment of the nation's security needs.

The movement was started in the late 1960s by Rohana Wijeweera, the son of a businessman from the seaport of Tangalla, Hambantota District. An excellent student, Wijeweera had been forced to give up his studies for financial reasons. Through friends of his father, a member of the Ceylon Communist Party, Wijeweera successfully applied for a scholarship in the Soviet Union, and in 1960 at the age of seventeen, he went to Moscow to study medicine at Patrice Lumumba University. While in Moscow, he studied Marxist ideology but, because of his openly expressed sympathies for Maoist revolutionary theory, he was denied a visa to return to the Soviet Union after a brief trip home in 1964. Over the next several years, he participated in the pro-Beijing branch of the Ceylon Communist Party, but he was increasingly at odds with party leaders and impatient with its lack of revolutionary purpose. His success in working with youth groups and his popularity as a public speaker led him to organize his own movement in 1967. Initially identified simply as the New Left, this group drew on students and unemployed youths from rural areas, most of them in the sixteen-to-twenty-five-age- group. Many of these new recruits were members of lower castes (Karava and Durava) who felt that their economic interests had been neglected by the nation's leftist coalitions. The standard program of indoctrination, the so-called Five Lectures, included discussions of Indian imperialism, the growing economic crisis, the failure of the island's communist and socialist parties, and the need for a sudden, violent seizure of power.

Between 1967 and 1970, the group expanded rapidly, gaining control of the student socialist movement at a number of major university campuses and winning recruits and sympathizers within the armed forces. Some of these latter supporters actually provided sketches of police stations, airports, and military facilities that were important to the initial success of the revolt. In order to draw the newer members more tightly into the organization and to prepare them for a coming confrontation, Wijeweera opened "education camps" in several remote areas along the south and southwestern coasts. These camps provided training in Marxism-Leninism and in basic military skills.

While developing secret cells and regional commands, Wijeweera's group also began to take a more public role during the elections of 1970. His cadres campaigned openly for the United Front of Sirimavo R. D. Bandaranaike, but at the same time they distributed posters and pamphlets promising violent rebellion if Bandaranaike did not address the interests of the proletariat. In a manifesto issued during this period, the group used the name Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna for the first time. Because of the subversive tone of these publications, the United National Party government had Wijeweera detained during the elections, but the victorious Bandaranaike ordered his release in July 1970. In the politically tolerant atmosphere of the next few months, as the new government attempted to win over a wide variety of unorthodox leftist groups, the JVP intensified both the public campaign and the private preparations for a revolt. Although their group was relatively small, the members hoped to immobilize the government by selective kidnapping and sudden, simultaneous strikes against the security forces throughout the island. Some of the necessary weapons had been bought with funds supplied by the members. For the most part, however, they relied on raids against police stations and army camps to secure weapons, and they manufactured their own bombs.

The discovery of several JVP bomb factories gave the government its first evidence that the group's public threats were to be taken seriously. In March 1971, after an accidental explosion in one of these factories, the police found fifty-eight bombs in a hut in Nelundeniya, Kegalla District. Shortly afterward, Wijeweera was arrested and sent to Jaffna Prison, where he remained throughout the revolt. In response to his arrest and the growing pressure of police investigations, other JVP leaders decided to act immediately, and they agreed to begin the uprising at 11:00 P.M. on April 5.

The planning for the countrywide insurrection was hasty and poorly coordinated; some of the district leaders were not informed until the morning of the uprising. After one premature attack, security forces throughout the island were put on alert and a number of JVP leaders went into hiding without bothering to inform their subordinates of the changed circumstances. In spite of this confusion, rebel groups armed with shotguns, bombs, and Molotov cocktails launched simultaneous attacks against seventy- four police stations around the island and cut power to major urban areas. The attacks were most successful in the south. By April 10, the rebels had taken control of Matara District and the city of Ambalangoda in Galle District and came close to capturing the remaining areas of Southern Province.

The new government was ill prepared for the crisis that confronted it. Although there had been some warning that an attack was imminent, Bandaranaike was caught off guard by the scale of the uprising and was forced to call on India to provide basic security functions. Indian frigates patrolled the coast and Indian troops guarded Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayaka while Indian Air Force helicopters assisted the counteroffensive. Sri Lanka's all-volunteer army had no combat experience since World War II and no training in counterinsurgency warfare. Although the police were able to defend some areas unassisted, in many places the government deployed personnel from all three services in a ground force capacity. Royal Ceylon Air Force helicopters delivered relief supplies to beleaguered police stations while combined service patrols drove the insurgents out of urban areas and into the countryside.

After two weeks of fighting, the government regained control of all but a few remote areas. In both human and political terms, the cost of the victory was high: an estimated 10,000 insurgents- -many of them in their teens--died in the conflict, and the army was widely perceived to have used excessive force. In order to win over an alienated population and to prevent a prolonged conflict, Bandaranaike offered amnesties in May and June 1971, and only the top leaders were actually imprisoned. Wijeweera, who was already in detention at the time of the uprising, was given a twenty-year sentence and the JVP was proscribed.

Under the six years of emergency rule that followed the uprising, the JVP remained dormant. After the victory of the United National Party in the 1977 elections, however, the new government attempted to broaden its mandate with a period of political tolerance. Wijeweera was freed, the ban was lifted, and the JVP entered the arena of legal political competition. As a candidate in the 1982 presidential elections, Wijeweera finished fourth, with more than 250,000 votes (as compared with Jayewardene's 3.2 million). During this period, and especially as the Tamil conflict to the north became more intense, there was a marked shift in the ideology and goals of the JVP. Initially Marxist in orientation, and claiming to represent the oppressed of both the Tamil and Sinhalese communities, the group emerged increasingly as a Sinhalese nationalist organization opposing any compromise with the Tamil insurgency. This new orientation became explicit in the anti-Tamil riots of July 1983. Because of its role in inciting violence, the JVP was once again banned and its leadership went underground.

The group's activities intensified in the second half of 1987 in the wake of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord. The prospect of Tamil autonomy in the north together with the presence of Indian troops stirred up a wave of Sinhalese nationalism and a sudden growth of antigovernment violence. During 1987 a new group emerged that was an offshoot of the JVP--the Patriotic Liberation Organization (Deshapreni Janatha Viyaparaya--DJV). The DJV claimed responsibility for the August 1987 assassination attempts against the president and prime minister. In addition, the group launched a campaign of intimidation against the ruling party, killing more than seventy members of Parliament between July and November.

Along with the group's renewed violence came a renewed fear of infiltration of the armed forces. Following the successful raid of the Pallekelle army camp in May 1987, the government conducted an investigation that resulted in the discharge of thirty-seven soldiers suspected of having links with the JVP. In order to prevent a repetition of the 1971 uprising, the government considered lifting the ban on the JVP in early 1988 and permitting the group to participate again in the political arena. With Wijeweera still underground, however, the JVP had no clear leadership at the time, and it was uncertain whether it had the cohesion to mount any coordinated offensive, either military or political, against the government.


Abb.: Sri Lankan Army Airborne Commandos
[Bildquelle: Wikipedia]

The armed forces of Sri Lanka bear the clear imprint of the British institutions and traditions that shaped them. The army was initially formed as a volunteer force to supplement the British military presence in the late nineteenth century, and British leadership of Sri Lankan troops continued through World War II. Even after independence, Britain continued to play a major role in training, equipping, and symbolically leading of the Sri Lankan armed forces.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the armed forces were greatly expanded and regularized in an attempt to cope with the growing problems of domestic instability. Despite these efforts, the military still lacked both the strength and the training to handle the crises that confronted the nation, and on two occasions the Sri Lankan government asked India to send in troops to restore internal order.

Because of their limited size and the pressing demands of internal security, the military forces have not been deployed overseas. Rare exceptions have been the dispatch of small military observer groups, in connection with international peacekeeping efforts, such as the United Nations force on the Indo-Pakistani border in 1966. In their largely domestic mission of internal defense, the armed forces resemble the paramilitary and police forces of larger nations. Since independence, their role has gradually expanded to include counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, controlling illegal immigration and smuggling, protecting vital institutions and government officials, and providing emergency relief during national disasters.


Military of Sri Lanka
Military manpower
Active troops 152,300 (Ranked 32nd)
Military Volunteer age 18 years of age
Availability males age 18-49: 4,933,217 (2005 est.)
Fit for military service males age 18-49: 3,789,627 (2005 est.)
Reaching volunteer age annually males: 174,049 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures
USD figure 514.8 million US $ (2004 est.)
Percent of GDP 2.6% (2004 est.)
Military branches
  Sri Lankan Army
  Sri Lankan Navy
  Sri Lankan Air Force

5.2.1. Historical Background Ancient Military Traditions

Warfare plays a central role in the historical traditions of Sri Lanka. The two great literary works of this early period--the Mahavamsa and the Culavamsa--relate in great detail the battles and campaigns of the ancient kingdoms (see Ancient Legends and Chronicles , ch. 1). For most of Sri Lanka's history, these conflicts were confined to the island and its coastal waters as the various kingdoms battled with each other or attempted to repel new waves of immigrants and invaders from the mainland. In the twelfth century, however, Parakramabahu I was able to unify the island and assemble a military force strong enough to engage in conflicts overseas. In 1164 he sent a naval force to Burma to retaliate for the poor treatment his envoys had received. In another expedition, to southern India, his army took part in a succession struggle for the Pandyan throne.

Thirteenth-century manuscripts tell of "four-fold" armies in which divisions of elephants, chariots, cavalry, and infantry confronted each other in battle. Troops in this period were raised by local levies among ordinary citizens, while special corps of "moonlight archers" and mace-bearers were given extended training. Foreign mercenaries played an important role in these armies, with Indians (Tamils, Keralas, and Rajputs) especially prominent. The Armed Forces under British Rule

Centuries of colonial rule by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British interrupted Sri Lanka's martial traditions (see European Encroachment and Dominance, 1500-1948 , ch. 1). The kingdoms of Jaffna, Kotte, and Kandy, divided by bitter rivalries, were unable to mount a unified opposition to the colonial powers, and one by one, the native armies fell to the superior force of the invaders. The British defeat of the Kingdom of Kandy in 1815-18 marked the end of an independent Sri Lankan military force. The institution of colonial rule, however, soon created the need for a native, military force to maintain order. To fill this need, the colonial government raised a contingent of light infantry named the Ceylon Rifles. The force was composed largely of Malay soldiers under British officers, and was the only formation of regular, full-time troops established in Sri Lanka during the colonial period. As such, its existence was brief, and when the maintenance of the unit became too costly, it was disbanded. From 1873 until independence, the island's entire indigenous force consisted of a volunteer reservist army.

The first component of this new army, the Ceylon Light Infantry Volunteers, was established in 1881 by proclamation of the lieutenant governor. Like the Ceylon Rifles, the new volunteer force was commanded by British officers, while the ranks were filled out largely with Burghers, a highly Westernized group that adapted well to the demands of volunteer service (see Ethnic Groups , ch. 2). A mounted infantry company was added in 1892, and in 1900 this contingent was called to South Africa to assist the British army in the Boer War.

In 1910 the volunteer corps was redesignated as the Ceylon Defence Force. Although Sri Lankan units were not deployed outside the island in either of the world wars, individual soldiers served in the British and British Indian armies. In World War II, the British crown took direct control of the island's armed forces from the colonial government. During this period, the Ceylon Light Infantry grew from 1 battalion to 5 battalions, while the total number of troops in uniform increased to 12,000. Most of these were engaged in maintenance and transport functions. Their most direct contact with the war came in April 1942 when the Japanese launched an air attack on Colombo. The Armed Forces after Independence

The advent of independence and dominion status in 1948 brought with it a series of changes in the designation and legal basis for the armed forces. In 1949 the legislature passed a bill authorizing the creation of the Royal Ceylon Army, Royal Ceylon Navy, and Royal Ceylon Air Force. The army was formed in October of that year, and the navy and air force were established in 1950 and 1951, respectively. These developments brought substantial changes at the highest levels of command, establishing an independent military force in the hands of an indigenous government for the first time in more than 100 years. At the level of individual units, however, the military order established by the British remained largely unchanged; the officers who took over as the force commanders had received their training under the British and, in many cases, in military academies in Britain. The basic structure of the colonial forces was retained, as were the symbolic trappings--the flags, banners, and regimental ceremonies (the Duke of Gloucester continued to serve as the honorary colonel of the Light Infantry until 1972).

In the early years following independence, military affairs received a relatively low priority; external security was guaranteed by a mutual security arrangement with Britain, while the function of internal security was usually left to the police. In this period, the armed forces served a largely ceremonial function, providing honor guards for state visits and occasionally helping to maintain public order. From 1949 to 1955, military expenses took up between 1 and 4 percent of the national budget (as compared with 20 percent for India and 35 to 40 percent for Pakistan in the same period), and the regular forces comprised only about 3,000 officers and enlisted personnel. (This represented a significant drop from the wartime high of 12,000, some of whom had been transferred into the reserve forces).

Even without sophisticated weaponry and training, this token military force was able to conduct the immigration-control and antismuggling operations that formed the bulk of its security missions in the 1950s and 1960s. Growing ethnic tensions after 1956 spawned a number of public disturbances in which the army was called to aid the civil powers, but these were largely local and small-scale events that offered no opportunity for traditional military operations. When the leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna made its bid for power in April 1971, it confronted an army totally without combat experience and lacking the training necessary to deal with a large-scale insurgency (see The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna , this ch.).

In the wake of the 1971 insurrection, the government began to cope with some of the more glaring deficiencies of the armed forces. It immediately initiated a campaign to increase the size of each of the three services. In addition, the troops were reorganized to reflect the new concern with internal subversion; in 1972 the army was divided into area commands, and individual battalions were reinforced with larger rifle companies and additional support companies. Training in this period tended to focus on counterinsurgency and jungle warfare. At the same time, because of the army's greater operational commitments, collective training was suspended entirely for a year, and then resumed only at the platoon level.

Despite these reforms, the armed forces were once again unprepared for the outbreak of ethnic and political violence that shook the nation in 1983 (see The United National Party Returns to Power , ch. 1). This time, the military leadership was faced with a more complex set of problems, for the conflict threw into question not only the force's readiness, but also its reliability as a defender of public order. In responding to the anti-Tamil rioting that broke out in July 1983, the army was widely accused of failing to restrain the Sinhalese mobs and of actively participating in acts of intimidation, arson, and murder against the civilian population. A 1983 report issued by the International Commission of Jurists documents instances of army soldiers "going on the rampage," burning Tamil homes, and indiscriminately killing civilians in retaliation for Tamil militant attacks on army patrols.

Such reports played a major role in exacerbating the ethnic conflict and in fostering support for the Tamil Tigers among the Tamil civilian population. The perception of the armed forces as the ethnic army of Sinhalese nationalism stemmed from a number of sources. First, beginning in the early 1960s, the government adopted a military recruitment program that deliberately favored Sinhalese candidates (see Structure and Administration of the Armed Forces , this ch.). A force that had originally contained a disproportionately high number of minorities (especially Tamils and Burghers) came to be more than 95 percent Sinhalese by the early 1980s. Furthermore, the role of political and military leaders during the 1983 rioting suggested that the anti-Tamil violence of the security forces was receiving sympathy, if not outright support, at high levels. For several days after the rioting began, President Jayewardene refrained from any public condemnation of the violence. When he did finally speak out, it was to denounce the Tamil insurgents and the forces of separatism. Military leaders were similarly slow to call to account those soldiers responsible for atrocities.

In the face of a growing Tamil insurgency, the armed forces remained seriously understrength. The army's fighting force nominally consisted of five regiments, each consisting of one regular and two volunteer battalions. In fact, only one of these regiments had the full complement of volunteers, and these recruits were poorly trained and equipped. The regular forces themselves were below nominal staffing levels, and navy and air force personnel were frequently deployed to fill up the infantry ranks. Understaffing similarly plagued the signal, armored, and engineering units and hampered their support missions.

New and unaccustomed functions also impeded the Sri Lankan troop performance response. With the sudden growth of the Tamil separatist movement in the early 1980s, the role of the armed forces evolved from civil patrol to antiterrorism and eventually to counterinsurgency. The army and the Special Task Force of the police played the central role in these operations, launching attacks against suspected Tamil insurgent bases and rounding up Tamil men for questioning. The navy assisted with coastal patrols to interdict arms shipments from south India, and the air force was involved in transport and supply. Despite the creation of the Joint Operations Command in 1985, the coordination of antiinsurgent operations continued to be poor. During this period, the government failed to provide an effective strategy for isolating the insurgents and securing the Tamil civilian population.

By 1986 the insurgent movement had gained enough support to seize control of the entire Jaffna Peninsula. For more than a year, the armed forces in the area were confined to short ventures in the immediate vicinity of their base camps. Finally, spurred on by the threatened formation of a Tamil "Eelam Secretariat," the government launched an assault to regain the peninsula (see The Tamil Insurgency , this ch.). The offensive was preceded by a two-month fuel embargo to limit the mobility of the insurgents. Then, in May 1987, the armed forces began "Operation Liberation," a coordinated land, sea, and air attack involving 3,000 troops, the largest single force ever deployed by the Sri Lankan government. While air force helicopter gunships and fighter-bombers targeted known rebel strongholds, the army, under cover of artillery shelling, moved out of its camps in armored vehicles and expanded its area of operations. The task force gradually eliminated major Tamil bases along the northern coast with the assistance of gunfire from Sri Lankan naval vessels, and by the first week of June, succeeded in driving most of the insurgents into the city of Jaffna.

Because an assault on Jaffna itself would involve large-scale urban fighting that would cause numerous civilian casualties, the Indian government interposed its objections to the forthcoming offensive. Faced with a threat of Indian armed intervention on behalf of the insurgents, the Sri Lankan government declared a successful end to the operation. The Indo-Sri Lankan Accord that followed provided for Indian troops to supervise the disarming of the insurgents in the north, and the Sri Lankan armed forces accordingly took up positions in the southern and eastern parts of the island. When Tamils resumed armed assaults in September 1987, the security forces returned to the antiterrorist activities that had been their primary function before 1985.

5.2.2. Structure and Administration of the Armed Forces

The armed forces consist of the Sri Lankan Army, Navy, and Air Force. As stipulated in the 1978 Constitution, the president of Sri Lanka is the commander in chief of the armed forces and has the sole authority to declare war and peace. Under the president, the formal chain of command includes the prime minister, the minister of defense, and the individual service commanders. In order to consolidate control over the armed forces, Jayewardene also assumed the portfolio of minister of defense when he took office in 1977. In March 1984, the additional position of minister of internal security was created in response to the ethnic turmoil of the previous summer. Its incumbent was primarily responsible for the coordination of government efforts in the eradication of Tamil extremist violence and reported directly to the president. On the operational level, the government created a Joint Operations Command in 1985 to coordinate the anti-insurgent and antiterrorist activities of the army, navy, air force, and police. This council was chaired by the president and included, among others, the prime minister, the minister of internal security, the three service commanders, the inspector general of police, the director of the National Intelligence Bureau, and the general officer commanding joint operations. The Army

Abb.: The Present Head of the Army, Lt. General G.S.C. Fonseka (RWP RSP RCDS PSC), appointed by president Mahinda Rajapaksa in December 2005)
[Bildquelle. Wuikipedia]

The Sri Lankan Army is the oldest and largest of the nation's three armed services. It was established as the Royal Ceylon Army in 1949, and was renamed when Sri Lanka became a republic in 1972. The commander of the army exercises direct operational control over the force. In early 1988, the government announced a major reorganization of the army, creating several high-level posts to accommodate the new structure. Under this revised chain of command, the commander of the army (upgraded from lieutenant general to general) will be assisted by a deputy commander (a lieutenant general) and a chief of staff (a major general). Apart from the Colombo District, which will be under the direct authority of Army Headquarters, the island will be divided into two area commands and twenty-one sectors. Each area command is scheduled to have 12,000 troops under the authority of a major general, with a brigadier as chief of staff. When the reorganization is completed, each sector will have a full battalion of troops dedicated to its defense.

Like the Indian Army, the Sri Lankan Army has largely retained the British-style regimental system that it inherited upon independence. The individual regiments (such as the Sri Lanka Light Infantry and the Sinha Regiment) operated independently and recruited their own members. Officers tended to remain in a single battalion throughout their careers. The infantry battalion, the basic unit of organization in field operations, included five companies of four platoons each. Incomplete reports suggest that a typical platoon had three squads (sections) of ten personnel each. In addition to the basic infantry forces, a commando regiment was established in 1986. Support for the infantry was provided by two reconnaissance regiments (one regular, one reserve), two field artillery regiments (one regular, one reserve), one antiaircraft regiment, one field engineering regiment, one engineering plant regiment, one signals battalion, a medical corps, and a variety of logistics units.

In late 1987, the army had a total estimated strength of up to 40,000 troops, about evenly divided between regular army personnel and reservists on active duty. The approximately 20,000 regular army troops represented a significant increase over the 1983 strength of only 12,000. Aggressive recruitment campaigns following the 1983 riots raised this number to 16,000 by early 1985.

After the 1971 uprising, the army expanded its range of weapons from the original stock of World War II-era British Lee Enfield rifles and 4.2-inch heavy mortars. New sources of weaponry in the mid-to-late 1970s included the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and China, countries with which the left-leaning Bandaranaike government had the closest ties. China continued to be an important source into the 1980s, and was joined by Australia, Italy, South Africa, Israel,and the United States. New equipment included 85mm field guns, light trucks, and armored personnel carriers. Chinese copies of Soviet small arms were the basic weapons used by the infantry. Of particular note were the Type 56 semiautomatic rifle (based on the Soviet AK), the Type 69 rocket launcher (like the Soviet RPG-7), and the Type 56 light machine gun, a copy of the Soviet 7.62mm RPD.

Despite the rapid acquisition of trucks and armored personnel carriers, individual units of the army had no transportation capability of their own, and most patrols were carried out on foot. Helicopters were available only for special operations, and most troop transport was by ordinary buses or minibuses. This situation frequently left troops vulnerable to mines, and many of the army's casualties occurred in this fashion, rather than in face-to-face combat with the insurgents. Because of the small geographical area within which the forces were deployed, long supply lines were not necessary, and individual units frequently made their own decisions about what rations to carry on a given operation.

Most training is provided at the Army Training Centre in Diyatalawa, Badulla District, Uva Province. The center encompasses three separate facilities: the Sri Lankan Military Academy, the Non-Commissioned Officers' School, and the Recruit Training School. The Military Academy was founded in 1981 and absorbed the earlier Officers' Cadet School and the Officers' Study Center. In the late 1980s, it was providing training in tactics and administration, and its graduates were commissioned as officers in the regular forces. The officer cadets' course lasted ninety weeks and prepared cadets to serve as platoon commanders. It included military and academic subjects as well as physical training, and placed a special emphasis on fostering leadership qualities and an understanding of the role of the officer as a servant of the state. Because of an extreme shortage of officers at the lower levels, a short commission course was developed to speed the training process. Cadets in this course received fifty-six weeks of training and committed themselves to five years of service with the option of continuing their careers in the military. The Army Training Centre handled approximately 300 recruits at a time and, in 1982, reportedly trained 18 officers. Additional training is provided by individual field units.

Cadet training was offered at the Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy established in 1981 in Ratmalana, fourteen kilometers south of Colombo. (The academy was named after the nation's third prime minister.) Each year, the academy admits fifty cadets (ages seventeen to nineteen) for a three-year program of academic work and basic training. Graduates continue their studies at a regular university before taking up a full-time career in the military services.

With the limited capacity of indigenous training facilities, the armed forces have relied extensively on foreign military training. The British played a central role in the early years following independence and have continued to be an important source of military expertise. Other sources have included Pakistan, Australia, Malaysia, and the United States. In addition, in an agreement reached in 1984, Israeli security personnel (reportedly from Shin Bet, the Israeli counterespionage and internal security organization) went to Sri Lanka to train army officers in counterinsurgency techniques (see Foreign Military Relations , this ch.).

Abb.: T-55 Panzer der Armee Sri Lankas
[Bildquelle: Wikipedia] The Navy

The Sri Lankan Navy, originally established in December 1950 as the Royal Ceylon Navy, is the smallest of the nation's armed services. It consists of a regular and a volunteer force, each with its own reserve component. The navy is under the direct operational control of a service commander who is equal in authority to the army and air force commanders. The force is divided into three Naval Area Commands--Northern, Eastern, and Western--with a fourth (Southern Command) to be established at a later date. The navy maintains major bases in Colombo and Trincomalee, with secondary bases at Karainagar (Jaffna District), Welisara (Colombo District), Tangalla (Hambantota District), and Kalpitiya (Puttalam District).

The navy's primary mission is to prevent illegal immigration and smuggling across the Palk Strait, the narrow body of water that separates the island from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. With the growth of the Tamil separatist movement in the late 1970s, the strait became a major conduit for armaments and insurgents traveling from training bases in south India, and the naval mission was therefore expanded to include counterinsurgency patrols.

In the late 1980s, the navy had an approximate total strength of 4,000, including active reservists. By 1985 estimates, the regular force contained 243 officers and 3,072 ratings, and the Volunteer Naval Force had 64 officers and 427 men, a substantial increase over the 1977 figures (200 officers, 2,400 ratings).

In late 1987, the navy had a fleet of approximately seventy vessels, more than half of them coastal patrol craft. Building on an original fleet of mostly British ships, the government took aggressive steps to expand its sources of supply and at the same time develop a domestic shipbuilding industry sufficient to meet national defense needs. As a result, the Colombo dockyards began production of the 40-ton Pradeepa coastal patrol craft in 1980, followed by the 330-ton Jayasagara large patrol craft. The original fleet of six Sooraya fast attack craft (the Chinese Shanghai-II, bought in 1972 and 1975) was supplemented in 1985 with six Israeli Super Dvora craft, and eight more were reportedly on order. One serious gap in the fleet was the lack of shallow-draft vessels suitable for surveying purposes. Palk Strait, although relatively narrow, is infamously difficult to navigate because of the large number of uncharted coral reefs.

A cumbersome bureaucratic structure prevented the navy from fully carrying out the basic elements of its intended mission. Although the fleet inventory improved steadily, logistical support to naval vessels was a continuing problem that resulted in poor performance and low morale throughout the service. The matériel procurement process was reportedly complex and inefficient, and spare parts for foreign-made vessels were frequently in short supply. Even where the necessary parts were available, poorly trained maintenance personnel were not always able to repair breakdowns, and inadequate administrative support compounded the difficulties.

Full maintenance facilities were available at the Colombo dockyard, where dry-dock equipment was expanded to allow construction of large patrol vessels in the 1980s. In addition, the base in Trincomalee was fitted out to perform slipway repairs. At both facilities, a shortage of qualified maintenance personnel continued to hamper effective repair work.

General training for officers and ratings was being provided at the Naval and Maritime Academy in Trincomalee in the 1980s. The academy was established in 1967, and offered a fifteen-month basic course in navigation, seamanship, and engineering. Seamen were given practical training on commercial cargo ships. For postgraduate technical training, recruits were sent overseas, mainly to India, Pakistan, Australia, the United States, and Britain. The Air Force

The Sri Lankan Air Force is the youngest of the three armed services. Founded in 1951 as the Royal Ceylon Air Force, it relied totally on the British Royal Air Force for its earliest equipment, training, and leadership. The service was led by a force commander and its operational headquarters were located in Ratmalana, south of Colombo. The air force operates major air bases at Katunayaka in Colombo District and China Bay (Trincomalee), with a secondary base in Jaffna.

In 1988 the air force was divided into four functionally defined squadrons, with a variety of support units: Number One (Flight Training School) Squadron, China Bay Air Base; Number Two (Transport) Squadron, Katunayaka Air Base; Number Three (Navigation) Squadron, China Bay Air Base; and Number Four (Helicopter) Squadron, Katunayaka Air Base. Support units included an electronic engineering division, an aeronautical division, and administrative, operations, medical, logistics, and procurement units. In addition, the force operated two antiaircraft gun battery sections and a small Air Force Security Force.

In its early years, the air force was engaged primarily in immigration patrol, with occasional assistance in emergency relief. During the insurgency of 1971, the air force played a major role in restoring internal order; in addition to providing transport of ammunition, food, and troops, it participated in assaults against insurgent strongholds. Following the ethnic rioting of 1983, the air force was placed on permanent active status and participated in counterinsurgent activities in Northern Province. Because of a severe shortage of hard currency for military expenditures in the wake of the 1971 uprising, the Number Four (Helicopter) Squadron began operating commercial transportation services for foreign tourists under the name of Helitours. In 1987 the air force had a total strength of 3,700 personnel, including active reserves. The force had grown gradually during its early years, reaching a little over 1,000 officers and recruits in the 1960s. Rapid growth began in the mid-1980s, when the ethnic disturbances drew the service into a major, long-term security role. Between 1983 and 1987, the force grew by nearly 50 percent.

The air force had a fleet of approximately eighty aircraft, of which sixty-four were reported to be operational in early 1988. The earliest aircraft--small transport airplanes and trainers--were provided by the British and were supplemented in the late 1960s with United States Bell helicopters. During the 1971 insurgency, the left-leaning Bandaranaike government turned to the Soviet Union for more sophisticated weaponry, and received five MiG-17 F fighter bombers, a MiG-15UTI Midget trainer, and two Ka-26 helicopters. The British also assisted with five BAC Jet Provosts. By the early 1980s, the Provosts and all of the Soviet aircraft had been taken out of active service and were relegated to long-term storage, leaving the air force without any bomber capability.

After the 1983 riots, the government worked rapidly to expand the inventory, relying largely on sources in Italy, Britain, and the United States. Because of tight budget constraints, the air force was compelled to refit a number of noncombat aircraft for military uses in counterinsurgency operations against Tamil separatists. Central in the government's security efforts were six SIAI-Marchetti SF-260 turboprop trainers which were used for rocket attacks and strafing. Additionally, the air force, with the help of Heli Orient of Singapore, equipped twelve Bell 212 and 412 helicopters to serve as gunships and as transport vehicles for commando assault operations. Government forces reportedly also used helicopters on "bombing" missions; frequently operating without conventional bombs, air force troops reportedly dropped hand grenades stuffed in wine glasses so that the lever would not be released until the glass shattered on the ground. A more effective bombing capability was provided by a small fleet of Chinese Yun-12 turboprop transport aircraft. These were equipped with bomb racks that had been fitted to carry up to 1,000 kilograms of fragmentation and antipersonnel bombs. Transport, training, and surveying functions were carried out by a variety of Cessna and DeHavilland aircraft.

As in the other services, a shortage of spare parts plagued maintenance efforts, forcing the service to send a number of aircraft to Singapore and elsewhere for repairs. After the purchase of equipment from Canada in 1986, the air force gained the capability to make structural repairs on its fleet of Bell helicopters, several of which had been damaged in operations against the Tamil insurgents. Maintenance of electronic equipment was performed at the communications station at Ekala, in the north of Colombo District.

Under the auspices of the British Royal Air Force, flight training was first offered to Ceylon Air Force pilots at Katunayaka Air Base in 1952. In addition, a number of recruits received flight training at the Royal Air Force college in Cranwell, England. After the British withdrew from Sri Lankan military facilities in 1967, the Number One (Flight Training School) Squadron was established at the China Bay Air Base in Trincomalee. With the increase in insurgent activities in the mid-1980s, the air force stepped up its training activities, bringing in foreign pilots to assist in the helicopter training program.

Officer training is provided at the Air Force Academy at the China Bay Air Base. The academy offers a two-year program of basic flight training and a variety of specialized courses. Air traffic controllers receive schooling at special facilities in Colombo, and weapons familiarity training is conducted in conjunction with the other services at the Army Training Centre in Diyatalawa. In addition, approximately twenty-five officers a year receive advanced training abroad, most commonly in Britain and India. Conditions of Service

The regular forces of the army, navy, and airforce were recruited by voluntary enlistment (see fig. 12). Despite the influence of Buddhist pacifist traditions, the prestige of government service and the possibility of a stable income have insured a sufficient flow of new recruits into the three services even prior to the establishment of a national draft in 1985. As a result of stringent Sinhala language requirements, noncommissioned (NCO) ranks of all services were virtually all Sinhalese. In the army, regular enlisted personnel were required to sign contracts that were renewable after the fifth and twelfth years of service. Renewal was contingent on the receipt of good performance ratings. After twenty-two years of service, individuals became eligible for pensions, and in the 1980s the average age of retirement for the enlisted ranks was forty-two. After completing regular service, recruits were required to fulfill seven years of obligatory service in the reserves. Officers were allowed to serve in each rank for a specified number of years, after which they had either to qualify for the next higher rank or retire. Because of the small number of positions available at the higher levels, most officers were forced to leave the service at about forty-five years of age (see fig. 13).

Separate recruiting was conducted for the First Commando Regiment of the army. Applicants for NCO positions had to be single and between eighteen and twenty-two years old, and must have passed the Ordinary Levels of the General Common Entrance examination in six subjects. Candidates were offered the possibility of specialized training overseas in such fields as intelligence, parachuting, and dog handling. Within the navy, the small size of the total force enabled the leadership to remain highly selective in its recruitment, and naval personnel had a uniformly high literacy rate. Recruits committed themselves to ten years of obligatory service.

After retiring from active service, officers and enlisted personnel reportedly had considerable difficulty finding suitable employment. Priority placement in civil service jobs, commonly offered under the British administration, was no longer available to military retirees in the 1980s, and former officers spoke out with bitterness on the failure of the nation to repay its soldiers for their years of service. In addition, military pensions reportedly have not kept pace with inflation.

In October 1985, the Parliament passed the Mobilization and Supplementary Forces Act, which gave the government the power to draft citizens into the National Armed Reserve. Under this law, the prime minister, with the approval of Parliament, was authorized to conscript Sri Lankan citizens eighteen years or older for one year of basic training and a total of ten years of reserve service. Under normal conditions, reserves could be called into active service for up to twenty-one days per year. At the request of the president, however, reserves could be deployed in active service for an indefinite period of time in the event of a war or "in the prevention or suppression of any rebellion or insurrection or other civil disturbance." Ethnic Composition of the Armed Forces

At independence the government inherited from the British a military establishment that was neither ethnically nor religiously representative of the population at large. Minorities, for example, were heavily overrepresented in the officer corps. Christians, who comprised about 8 percent of the population, accounted for about 50 percent of all officers. Ethnically, Tamils and Burghers, who together comprised less than 20 percent of the population, accounted for 40 percent of the officer corps. This unbalanced representation was the result of a number of deliberate policies and incidental developments under the British. As in India, the colonial government in Sri Lanka tended to favor certain minorities in the selection of both military and civil service posts. In addition, the greater willingness of the Tamils to attend Christian missionary schools gave them the advantage of knowing the language, faith, and value system of the colonial administration. These Christian schools were also more likely than their Buddhist counterparts to offer rigorous physical training; the student cadet corps that were common in the colonial tradition were anathema to the Buddhist pacifist orthodoxy. Finally, the largely Westernized Burgher population adapted more easily to the social and public values of a colonial force.

In the first few years of independence, the high representation of Christians and minorities in the military leadership was fully in step with the political currents of the time; the governments of Don Stephen Senanayake and Sir John Kotelawala were dominated by a Westernized elite that preached accommodation with all ethnic groups. Starting in the mid-1950s, however, a new Sinhalese and Buddhist nationalism turned increasingly against the British-sponsored elite of the colonial period. Within the government, this tendency was reflected in the victory of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in the 1956 elections. In the military, however, changes were much more gradual; most of the commissions that had become available in the newly created services were already filled, and the relatively young army had few officers approaching retirement age. As a result, this period was marked by an increasing strain between the civil and the military authorities. The government's program of nationalization and its attempt to establish a privileged place for Buddhism and the Sinhala language caused increasing conflict around the island. In January 1962, several high-ranking military officers were arrested and accused of planning a coup d'état. They reportedly had planned to restore order by detaining a number of prominent left-wing politicians from the Bandaranaike coalition and returning the UNP to office. By the time the conspiracy was made public, the original plans had already been abandoned. Nonetheless, the Bandaranaike government used the potential threat to bolster its pro-Buddhist campaign, making political capital from the fact that all of the conspirators had been Christians.

Despite the initial resistance from a number of military officers, the government succeeded gradually in recasting the armed forces in its own image. Recruitment at all levels became increasingly dominated by Sinhalese Buddhists, and by mid-1983 Tamils accounted for less than 5 percent of all military personnel. Military training that previously had been conducted in a variety of languages was now limited to Sinhala and English. Also, under the leadership of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, the army was supplemented with the new Sinha Regiment, whose name and unprecedented lack of regimental colors stood in clear opposition to the British colonial regalia of the Ceylon Light Infantry. Even the Light Infantry took on a new Sinhalese cast when in 1961 it adopted an elephant named Kandula as its regimental mascot; as the Times of Ceylon was quick to point out, Kandula was the battle elephant of Dutthagamani (or Duttugemunu), the ancient Sinhalese king who was credited with driving the Tamils out of Sri Lanka in the second century B.C.

The Sinhalization of the armed forces continued under the United National Party government of President Jayewardene. The retirement of the British-educated cadre of Tamil and Burgher officers gradually depleted the ranks of minority members. At the same time, the growing ethnic divisions in the country and the deployment of the armed forces against the Tamil population in the Northern Province tended to discourage young Tamil males from pursuing a career in the military. By 1985 almost all enlisted personnel in the armed services were Sinhalese. Women in the Armed Forces

The Sri Lankan Army Women's Corps was formed in 1980 as an unarmed, noncombatant support unit. Set up with the assistance of the British Women's Reserve Army Corps, it was identical in structure to its parent organization, and its first generation of officer cadets was trained in Britain. Candidates were required to be between eighteen and twenty years old and to have passed the lowest level of the General Common Entrance examinations. (Officer candidates must have passed the Advanced Level.) Enlistment entailed a five-year service commitment (the same as for men), and recruits were not allowed to marry during this period. In the sixteen-week training course at the Army Training Centre at Diyatalawa, cadets were put through a program of drill and physical training similar to the men's program, with the exception of weapons and battlecraft training. Women recruits were paid according to the same scale as the men, but were limited to service in nursing, communications, and clerical work. In late 1987, the first class of women graduates from the Viyanini Army Training Center were certified to serve as army instructors.

Women were first admitted into the navy in 1985. New recruits were given six weeks of training with the Sri Lankan Army Women's Corps. Although they were trained in the use of weapons, they were not assigned to combat positions or shipboard duty. Instead, they assisted in nursing, communications, stores, and secretarial work. Awards in the Armed Forces

In the period between independence and the establishment of the republic, members of the Sri Lankan armed services were eligible for awards from the British government, including the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) and the Member of the British Empire (M.B.E.). After 1972 however, the nation established its own system of decorations, which was modified in 1979 to conform more closely with the practices of other South Asian nations. Under the system in place in 1988, the nation's highest decoration was the Parama Veera Vibushanaya, equivalent to the Victoria Cross of Britain and the Param Vir Chakra of India, and awarded "for individual acts of gallantry of the most exceptional order." For acts of bravery performed outside a military context, individuals were awarded the Veerodhara Vibushanaya, a decoration equivalent to the British George Cross and the Indian Asoka Chakra. Other awards include the Visiatha Seva Vibushanaya for twenty years of service with an "unblemished record of moral and military conduct;" the Uttama Seva Padakkama, equivalent to India's Meritorious Service Medal, and given to a soldier with not fewer than fifteen years of service marked by exceptional ability and exemplary conduct; the Videsha Seva Padakkama, for active service in a foreign military mission; and the Veera Vickrama Vibushanaya, equivalent to the Military Cross of Britain, and given for acts of gallantry in saving the lives of others.

5.2.3. Foreign Military Relations

Sri Lanka's oldest and most enduring military relationship has been with Britain. As a British colony, the island was garrisoned with British troops and, following independence, its own indigenous armed forces were organized, trained, armed, and led by British military personnel. Under a mutual defense arrangement dating from 1947, the two nations have agreed to give each other "such military assistance for the security of their territories for defense against external aggression and for the protection of essential communications as it may be in their mutual interests to provide." The vague wording of this treaty has allowed it to survive a number of political swings in Sri Lanka's domestic arena, and it remained in force in 1988. Even after the government of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike withdrew island base rights from British forces in 1957, the British continued to be a major supplier of military hardware. Although the British government has denied any direct involvement, for a time former British Special Air Service personnel under the auspices of the private firm of Keeny Meeny Services were instrumental in training Sri Lankan troops in counterterrorist and counterinsurgency techniques.

After the anti-Tamil riots of 1983 and as the ethnic insurgency increased in the north, the government turned to a variety of foreign nations to assist in its counterinsurgency campaign. In May 1984, at considerable cost to its standing among Third World nations, the government arranged for the establishment of an Israeli special interest section in Colombo. Operating out of the United States embassy, agents from Shin Bet, the Israeli counterespionage and internal security organization, trained members of the Sri Lankan Special Task Force and other groups in intelligence gathering and internal security techniques.

Other nations that have reportedly provided training include Australia, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, and the United States. Unconfirmed press reports suggest that a number of foreign advisers, including Englishmen, Pakistanis, and South Africans, have actually taken part in combat operations against the Tamil insurgents. In April 1986, the Indian press announced that a Pakistani Air Force officer had been killed in an airplane crash shortly after participating in an air assault in Northern Province.

Military relations between Sri Lanka and India underwent a major change in mid-1987. For almost ten years, the Tamil insurgency in Northern and Eastern provinces had been a major source of friction between the two nations because India provided shelter, training, and weapons to the insurgent groups. The Sri Lankan insurgents found abundant sympathy and support for their cause within the Tamil-dominated Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and Madras served as the headquarters from which they regularly issued condemnations of the government. Beginning in May 1987, the Indian government changed its official role from that of intermediary to active participant as it sought to abate the turmoil in the island and bring together the Tamil separatists and the Sri Lankan government. Although the resulting Indo-Sri Lankan Accord, which was signed in July 1987, offered an equitable formula for restoring peace to the troubled nation, a subsequent exchange of executive letters accorded to India a substantial voice in Sri Lankan military affairs. In particular, Sri Lanka acceded to three major concessions. First, it agreed to consult New Delhi on the employment of all foreign military and intelligence personnel in Sri Lanka "with a view to insuring that such presences will not prejudice Indo-Sri Lankan relations." Second, it guaranteed that no Sri Lankan ports would be made available "for military use by any country in a manner prejudicial to India's interests." Third, Sri Lanka agreed to review its contracts with foreign broadcasting organizations to insure that none of their facilities in Sri Lanka would be used for military or intelligence purposes. This latter concession was specifically aimed at Voice of America broadcasting operations on the island. In return, New Delhi agreed to deport all Sri Lankan terrorists and insurgents operating on Indian soil and to provide military training and supplies to the Sri Lankan armed forces. Press reports in early 1988 suggested that Sri Lanka was prepared to expand and formalize its military relationship with India through a treaty of friendship and cooperation similar to that linking India with the Soviet Union.

5.2.4. Foreign Military Presence

Under the provisions of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord, an Indian military contingent was dispatched to northern Sri Lanka. This contingent, named the Indian Peacekeeping Force was composed of army and paramilitary units from the Indian Army's Southern Command, headquartered in Madras. The IPKF, when it was initially dispatched to Sri Lanka, numbered about 1,600 personnel. As the cease-fire failed to take hold, and as the tenacity of the Tamil insurgents became increasingly evident, the force was steadily augmented. Within three months of its deployment, the IPKF presence in Sri Lanka had grown to 20,000 personnel. At the end of the year, two brigades of Muslim troops were introduced into Eastern Province to deal with growing tension in the Islamic community of that area. By January 1988, the overall force had a total strength of 50,000 personnel from three Indian Army divisions, plus supporting units. The following month it was announced in the Indian Parliament that the IPKF would be increased to 70,000 personnel organized tactically into fifteen brigades. Some Sri Lankan sources said privately that the force had grown well in excess of this total, possibly surpassing 100,000 troops, and that its presence in Sri Lanka might well exceed the duration of the insurgency. In mid-1988, however, the Indian government did withdraw from Sri Lanka some of its more heavily armed artillery and armored units that were obviously unsuitable for fighting a counterinsurgency war.

At the time of its deployment, the IPKF was intended as a truce supervisory force that would oversee the disarming of the Tamil insurgents and the disengagement of the Sri Lankan government forces. As the cease-fire between the two sides broke down, however, the Indians were compelled to assume a combat role and were sent into action against the Tamil guerrillas overrunning the Jaffna Peninsula. In this operation, codenamed Operation Parwan, IPKF units of the 54th Indian Army division launched a five-pronged attack to clear the area of insurgents. After sixteen days of fighting, Jaffna fell to the Indians, and the Tamil combatants retreated to the more inaccessible areas of Northern and Eastern provinces.

Among the residents of Jaffna, the assault on the city provoked widespread bitterness toward the Indian troops, as reports spread of atrocities and high civilian casualties caused by careless bombardment of populated areas. Many of these reports were believed to be the result of Tamil insurgent propaganda. Nonetheless, in early 1988 the Indian Army acknowledged that there had been serious disciplinary problems during the campaign, and a number of soldiers were sent back to India after conviction on rape charges. Such gestures also hinted that the IPKF seemed disposed to apply the lessons learned from the Jaffna offensive and to abandon its previous hamfisted tactics and insensitivity to the civilian population. When continued insurgent activity required redeployment of IPKF units to Eastern Province and the inland districts of Northern Province, the Indian forces embarked on an aggressive civic action program to restore the infrastructure in war-ravaged areas, and on an intensive campaign of heavy patrolling to keep the guerrillas off balance. The Indians gained experience in both urban and counterinsurgency warfare and made some progress in keeping the Tamil insurgents at bay. However, the guerrillas were proving a more intractable foe than anticipated, and observers were not optimistic about an early conclusion to the conflict.

Abb.: Sri Lankische UNO-Blauhelme in Haiti
[Bildquelle: Wikipedia]

5.2.5. The Defense Budget

The intervention of the Indian Peacekeeping Force in 1987 permitted the Sri Lankan government to decrease its defense outlays for the first time in ten years. Since the United National Party came to power in 1977, Colombo's efforts to quell the Tamil insurgency and the radical Sinhalese movement in the south had demanded an increasing share of the nation's resources; in the early 1980s, defense expenditures represented only 1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP see Glossary). By 1986 this figure had risen to 3.5 percent, and by 1987 it was estimated at over 5 percent. After a number of supplemental appropriations, 1987 defense costs were estimated at Rs10.6 billion (for value of the rupee--see Glossary), including Rs3.5 billion for the army, Rs1.3 billion for the navy, Rs1.9 billion for the air force, and Rs1.7 billion for the police (see National Police and Paramilitary Forces , this ch.). The dramatic growth in defense outlays took place at a time when Sri Lanka's major exports were realizing significantly lower prices on the international market and in 1986, for the first time, the government was forced to resort to large-scale commercial borrowing. A continuation of this trend promised to undermine the government's development efforts and aggravate an already sizable trade deficit (see Trade , ch. 3). After the arrival of Indian troops in July 1987, the Sri Lankan government withdrew most of its forces from Northern and Eastern provinces, saving significantly on operational costs. As a result, Sri Lanka projected a 37 percent cut in army expenditures and a total military budget of Rs9.2 billion, 13 percent below 1987 levels.


Abb.: Polizei, Colombo
[Bildquelle: -- -- Creative Commons Lizenz (Namensnennung). -- Zugriff am 2006--06-29]

The Sri Lankan National Police is an integral part of the nation's security forces, with primary responsibility for internal security. Specially trained commando units of the police are regularly deployed in joint operations with the armed forces, and the police command structure in Northern and Eastern provinces is closely integrated with the other security organizations under the authority of the Joint Operations Command. The police is headed by an inspector general of police who reports to the minister of defense.

5.3.1. Organization

In 1988 the police force was divided into three geographic commands--known as ranges--covering the northern, central, and southern sectors of the island. The ranges were subdivided into divisions, districts, and stations, and Colombo was designated as a special division. In 1974 there were a total of 260 police stations throughout the country. In more remote rural areas beyond the immediate range of existing police stations, law enforcement functions are carried out by locally elected village headmen (grama seva niladhari, literally "village service officers"). In addition to its regular forces, the national police operated a small reserve contingent and a number of specialized units responsible for investigative and paramilitary functions. Routine criminal activity was handled by the Criminal Investigation Department under the command of an assistant superintendent of police. More coordinated threats to internal security, such as that posed by the radical Sinhalese Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna were the responsibility of the Countersubversive Division, which was primarily an investigative division. Special operational units included the Commando Squad of the Colombo police and the Special Task Force. The former, a 200-strong riot control force, was established following the anti-Tamil riots of 1983. The Special Task Force is a police field force. It was set up in 1984 with the assistance of foreign advisers (primarily former British Special Air Service personnel under the auspices of Keeny Meeny Services, see Foreign Military Relations , this ch.). Its 1,100-member force was organized into 7 companies and trained in counterinsurgency techniques. It played a major role in the government's combined force operations against the Tamil Tigers in Eastern Province before July 1987. Following the signing of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord, the Special Task Force was redesignated the Police Special Force, and deployed in Southern Province, where it immediately went into action against the JVP terrorists. Companies of the force also served in rotation as part of the presidential security guard.

Until 1984 the police were responsible for national intelligence functions, first under the Special Branch, and later under the Intelligence Services Division. The perceived failure of the Intelligence Services Division during the riots of July 1983 led the Jayewardene government to reevaluate the nation's intelligence network, and in 1984 the president set up a National Intelligence Bureau. The new organization combined intelligence units from the army, navy, air force, and police. It was headed by a deputy inspector general of police who reported directly to the Ministry of Defence.

5.3.2. Strength

By late 1987, the police had an estimated total strength of 21,000 personnel, with plans to increase to 28,000. The force expanded most rapidly in the years following the 1971 uprising, an event that constituted the nation's first major challenge to internal security; between 1969 and 1974, the police grew from 11,300 to 16,100, an increase of over 42 percent. According to the United States Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the force was less than 5 percent Tamil.

5.3.3. Equipment and Training

Following the British tradition, Sri Lankan police were customarily unarmed during routine patrol duty in the years following independence. With the growth of ethnic tensions in the late 1970s and the increasing tendency of both Sinhalese and Tamil extremist groups to target the police, the government decided in 1982 to issue handguns to all sergeants and constables. Chinese copies of Soviet pistols formed an important component of the police arsenal, and included the 7.62mm Type 54 (modeled on the Soviet TT-M1933) and the 9mm Type 59 (based on the Soviet PM). For emergencies, the police also used the British Lee Enfield .303 carbine. The Commando Squadron was equipped with Sterling submachineguns, repeater shotguns, revolvers, and tear gas.

Regular force training in the 1980s was conducted at the Police College in Katukurunda, Western Province. Separate training facilities for the Special Task Force have been established in Kalutara, 96 kilometers south of Colombo. Starting in 1984, foreign trainers affiliated with Keeny Meeny Services offered counterinsurgency pilot training in the use of Bell 212 and 412 helicopter gunships.

5.3.4. The Home Guard

As the Tamil insurgents accelerated their campaign for a separate state in the early 1980s, they turned increasingly against those Sinhalese settlers who, through governmentsponsored resettlement programs, had "infringed" on traditional Tamil areas in the north and east. In response, the government authorized the formation and arming of small militias for local self-defense. These armed groups, known as Home Guards, were generally composed of poorly educated Sinhalese villagers with little or no military training. Armed with shotguns that had been provided by the government, they frequently exceeded their original mandate of self-defense, avenging terrorist attacks with indiscriminate killings of Tamil civilians. This violence was an important factor in the increasing radicalization of the Tamil population. By April 1987, there were reportedly 12,000 Home Guards throughout the country, and the National Security Council, a consultative body that meets on defense matters, had announced its intention of increasing the number to 20,000. With the successful negotiation of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord in July, however, the government moved to dismantle this poorly disciplined paramilitary force. The Home Guards in Northern and Eastern provinces were ordered to surrender their weapons to the authorities, and by August the police claimed to have collected 8,000 of the more than 10,000 shotguns that had been issued 3 years earlier. When the Tamil terrorist attacks resumed in late 1987, however, the government reportedly reversed its decision and allowed a partial rearming of the force. At the same time that it was acting to limit the Home Guards in the north, the government authorized an expansion of local and private militias in the south. The signing of the accord had unleashed a wave of violence among militant Sinhalese groups who opposed both the accommodation with the Tamil separatists and the presence of Indian troops on Sri Lankan soil. As Jayewardene moved to force passage of the provisions of the accord in Parliament, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna launched a campaign against members of the ruling United National Party who supported the pact. In the second half of 1987, the party chairman and more than seventy United National Party legislators were killed by Sinhalese extremists. The government responded by allocating 150 Home Guards to each Member of Parliament, leaving the legislators themselves responsible for the arming and training of these personal militias. At the same time, the press reported that progovernment gangs of thugs known as Green Tigers (named for the colors of the ruling party) had begun to attack opponents of the accord.


Founded on the principles of British law, the Sri Lankan criminal justice system underwent major changes in the 1970s as the government attempted to cope with the challenges posed by both Sinhalese and Tamil insurgencies. Through a series of new laws, constitutional provisions, and emergency regulations, Sri Lanka acted to enlarge the legal powers of the police and armed forces and to increase the capacity of the courts to deal with the growing number of cases. These changes were at the expense of individual civil liberties, and the new powers of the state evoked strong criticism from all ethnic communities. The most significant changes affected the rules of search, arrest, and seizure and the procedures by which criminal cases were investigated and tried. Through all this flux, the one element that remained relatively constant was the Penal Code, established in the late nineteenth century by the British colonial government. Although various individual provisions were amended to suit changing social conditions, in 1988 the general classification and definition of crime and punishment set forth in the code remained the basis of criminal law.

5.4.1. Criminal Justice and the Effects of Insurgency

Following the insurrection of 1971, the judicial system was flooded with thousands of young insurgents who had played varying roles in the attempt to overthrow the government. The established legal channels--holdovers from the colonial era--were clearly insufficient to deal with the crisis. At the same time, the government realized that any significant delay in the trial and settlement of cases would only serve to increase the alienation that had led to the rebellion. As a temporary measure, the parliament passed the Criminal Justice Commissions Act of 1972, providing for the establishment of special commissions outside the normal judicial structure and empowered to conduct cases free from the usual stringent rules of procedure.

The judicial crisis of the early 1970s also served to promote long-term reforms that had been under consideration for more than twenty years. In 1973 the parliament passed the Administration of Justice Law, a bill to reorganize the entire judicial system. Heralded as a major break with inherited British colonial traditions, the new law was intended to simplify the court structure and speed the legal process. It repealed thirteen acts and ordinances, including the Courts Ordinance and the Criminal Procedure Code of 1898, replacing them with five chapters covering the judicature, criminal, testamentary, and appeals procedures and the destruction of court records. The seven levels of the British court structure were replaced with four levels, including a Supreme Court that held only appellate jurisdiction. The high courts, district courts, and magistrate's courts were assigned jurisdiction respectively over the island's sixteen judicial zones and their respective forty districts and eighty divisions.

After Bandaranaike's defeat in the 1977 elections, the new United National Party government moved quickly to revise the workings of the criminal justice system. Of the five chapters of the Administration of Justice Law, two (on criminal procedure and appeals) were replaced by the Code of Criminal Procedure Act of 1979, and a third (on the judiciary) was substantially amended by the 1978 Constitution. These radical changes, coming on the heels of the previous reforms, were motivated by a variety of concerns. First, there were political considerations. Jayewardene's electoral success had been based in part on a popular reaction against the extraordinary legal and judicial powers assumed by the Bandaranaike government; the previous six years had been marked by an unbroken state of emergency, the creation of the highly powerful Criminal Justice Commissions, and a growing constriction of the freedom of the press. In his first year in office, Jayewardene declared an end to emergency rule, repealed the Criminal Justice Commissions Act, and engineered a new constitution with explicit safeguards of fundamental rights. These rights, set forth in Article 13, included free speech, the right to a fair trial, and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. Although many of these rights had appeared in the previous constitution, the new document put them under the jurisdiction of the courts for the first time.

A second motive for the changes stemmed from the sudden expansion of the Tamil insurgency in the late 1970s. Faced with a growing number of terrorist activities in the north, the Jayewardene government moved to streamline the judicial system and establish clearer lines of jurisdiction between the various levels of courts. Primary jurisdiction over criminal cases, previously the concurrent right of three levels of the judiciary, was now confined to two levels, the high court and the magistrate's courts, with their respective domains clearly demarcated in the new criminal procedure code.

The liberalizations of the Jayewardene government soon fell prey to the nation's deteriorating security situation. Hampered by the civil liberties embedded in the new laws and codes, the police and armed forces were unable to deal with an insurgent movement that involved a growing portion of the Tamil civilian population. Legal sanctions against terrorism began with the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1979, followed by further antiterrorist provisions in 1982 and full-scale emergency regulations in 1983. With the consent of Parliament, these regulations were renewed on a monthly basis. By early 1988, the existing criminal justice system was a composite of permanent and provisional legislation. In contrast with the relatively stable Penal Code, the judicial structure and the procedures for criminal cases reflected the complex and sometimes contradictory interweavings of the Administration of Justice Law, the Constitution, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the emergency and antiterrorist provisions enacted to cope with the Tamil insurgency (see Judiciary , ch. 4).

5.4.2. The Penal Code

The passage of the Penal Code, Ordinance Number 2 of 1883, marked an important stage in the island's transition from RomanDutch to British law. Despite the wide variety of amendments to the code, from 1887 to as recently as 1986, it remained substantially unchanged, and established a humane and unambiguous foundation for criminal justice. Crimes are divided into eighteen categories that include offenses against the human body, property, and reputation; various types of forgery, counterfeit, and fraud; offenses against public tranquillity, health, safety, justice, and the holding of elections; and offenses against the state and the armed forces. The code provides for six different types of punishment: death by hanging, rigorous imprisonment (with hard labor), simple imprisonment, whipping, forfeiture of property, and fine. For sentences that involve whipping, the provisions of the Penal Code have been modified by the Code of Criminal Procedure, which sets a maximum sentence of twenty-four strokes, and requires that a medical officer be present during the execution of the sentence. Offenders under sixteen are given a maximum of six strokes with a light cane, and the sentence must be carried out in the presence of the court and, optionally, of the parents. In cases of imprisonment, the Penal Code specifies a maximum sentence permissible for each offense, leaving the specific punishment to the discretion of the judge. Imprisonment for any single offense may not exceed twenty years. The death penalty is limited to cases involving offenses against the state (usually of open warfare), murder, abetment of suicide, mutiny, and giving false evidence that leads to the conviction and execution of an innocent person. If the offender is under eighteen years of age or pregnant, extended imprisonment is substituted for a death sentence.

An attempt by the government to eliminate capital punishment received mixed reactions. In April 1956, the Bandaranaike government proposed the suspension of the death penalty for murder and abetment of suicide for a trial period of three years; this experiment was to be reviewed thereafter with the aim of abolishing capital punishment from the statute book. Parliament passed the Suspension of Death Penalty Bill in May 1956.

In October 1958, the government appointed a commission on capital punishment to examine the question of whether the suspension had contributed to any increase in the incidence of murder. The commission released a provisional report shortly before Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was assassinated in September 1959 (see Sri Lanka Freedom Party Rule, 1956-65 , ch. 1). Concluding that there was no immediate evidence to support a resumption of capital punishment, the commission recommended that the suspension be continued until April 1961 to permit a more extensive and conclusive study. As a result of the assassination, however, the commission's recommendation was set aside. In October 1959, the government decided to restore the death penalty, and a bill to this effect was passed in November 1959.

5.4.3. Criminal Procedure and the Structure of the Courts

As defined by the Constitution of 1978, the judiciary consists of a Supreme Court, a Court of Appeal, a High Court, and a number of magistrate's courts (one for each division, as set out in the Administration of Justice Law). In cases of criminal law, the magistrate's courts and the High Court are the only courts with primary jurisdiction, and their respective domains are detailed in the Code of Criminal Procedure. Appeals from these courts of first instance can be made to the Court of Appeal and, under certain circumstances, to the Supreme Court, which exercises final appellate jurisdiction. In all cases, the accused has the right to representation by an attorney, and all trials must be public unless the judge determines, for reasons of family privacy, national security, or public safety, that a closed hearing is more appropriate.

The vast majority of the nation's criminal cases are tried at the lowest level of the judicial system, the magistrate's courts. Cases here may be initiated by any police officer or public servant, or by any oral or written complaint to the magistrate. The magistrate is empowered to make an initial investigation of the complaint, and to determine whether his court has proper jurisdiction over the case, whether it should be tried by the High Court, or whether it should be dismissed. Magistrates' courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over all criminal cases involving fines of up to Rs1,500 or prison sentences of up to two years. If the magistrate's court is determined to have the necessary jurisdiction, prosecution may be conducted by the complainant (plaintiff) or by a government officer, including the attorney general, the solicitor general, a state counsel, a pleader authorized by the attorney general, or any officer of any national or local government office. At the trial, the accused has the right to call and cross-examine witnesses. Trials are conducted without a jury, and the verdict and sentence are given by the magistrate. Any person unsatisfied with the judgment has the right to appeal to the Court of Appeal on any point of law or fact.

For criminal cases involving penalties over Rs1,500 or two years imprisonment, original jurisdiction resides with the High Court. The High Court is the highest court of first instance in criminal law, and exercises national jurisdiction. Prosecution must be conducted by the attorney general, the solicitor general, a state counsel, or any pleader authorized by the attorney general. During the trial, the accused or his or her attorneys are allowed to present a defense and call and cross-examine witnesses. For more serious offenses, including crimes against the state, murder, culpable homicide, attempted murder, and rape, the law provides for trial by jury. In such cases, a jury of seven members is chosen by lot from a panel elected by the accused unless the court directs otherwise. Both the prosecution and the defense have the opportunity to eliminate proposed members of the jury. The jury is required to reach a verdict by a majority of no less than five to two. (Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1979, the right to a jury was suspended for a wide variety of offenses involving violations of communal harmony defined as incitement of one ethnic group against another.) In cases where the law does not prescribe trial by jury, the judge gives the verdict and passes sentence at the conclusion of the hearings. As in the magistrate's courts, the accused has the right of appeal to the Court of Appeal on any matter of law or fact.

As its name suggests, the Court of Appeal has only appellate jurisdiction in matters of criminal law. Cases before the court are conducted without a jury. Appeals from the High Court must be heard by a bench of at least three judges, whereas appeals from a magistrate's court require at least two judges. Verdicts are reached by majority decision, and therefore a supplemental judge is added in cases of a split vote. As in other courts, appellants are entitled to representation by an attorney, but if they cannot afford legal counsel, the Court of Appeal may, at the discretion of the judges, assign an attorney at the court's expense. After the court has handed down its decision, further appeal to the Supreme Court may be made on any matter involving a substantial question of law, but an appeal requires the approval of either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court itself.

The Supreme Court was substantially refashioned by the 1978 Constitution, with many of its former functions reverting to the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court in the 1980s consisted of a chief justice and between six and ten other justices who sit as a single panel on all cases before the court. Cases are conducted without a jury, and the court exercises final appellate jurisdiction for all errors in fact or in law.

5.4.4. Rules of Search, Arrest, and Detention

Despite the numerous protections of individual liberties embodied in the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure, the government has succeeded in greatly expanding the discretionary powers of the armed forces and police through a variety of regulations and temporary provisions. The legal basis for these provisions comes from the Constitution itself, which sets conditions under which the government may act to restrict fundamental rights. Article 15 states that freedom of speech, assembly, and association may be subject to restrictions "in the interests of racial and religious harmony." It also allows the government, for reasons of national security, to suspend the right of a suspect to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. In addition, Article 155 authorizes the Parliament and, in certain circumstances, the president, to make emergency regulations which override or amend existing legislation.

Under these special provisions, the government passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1979. The act empowered a superintendent of police, or an officer at or above the rank of subinspector authorized by the superintendent, to enter and search any premises and to arrest without a warrant upon reasonable suspicion of a crime. Although this act was originally slated as a temporary provision to be in effect for three years, the parliament voted in March 1982 to continue it indefinitely. In addition, an amendment passed in 1983 extended the police powers detailed in the act to members of the armed forces, and provided legal immunity for arrests and deaths occurring in the course of security operations.

The Code of Criminal Procedure allows the police to detain suspects without a hearing for a maximum of twenty-four hours. Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, however, this period has been extended to seventy-two hours, and if the subsequent hearing leads to an indictment, the magistrate is required to order continued detention until the conclusion of the trial. The act further provides that the minister of internal security may, upon reasonable suspicion, order a suspect to be detained for a period of three months, extendable by three-month intervals up to a total of eighteen months. These provisions have been supplemented by the state of emergency regulations, first put into effect in May 1983 and renewed on a monthly basis thereafter. Under these regulations, police are given broad powers of preventive detention. In addition, a suspect may be detained for up to ninety days by order of the attorney general. At the end of this period, the suspect must appear before a magistrate's court which, with or without an indictment, is required by law to remand the suspect to prison. Subsequent detention may continue for an indefinite period of time.

5.4.5. Executive Powers of Pardon and Commutation

The president has the power to grant a pardon or a stay or commutation of sentence to any offender convicted in any court in Sri Lanka. In cases involving a sentence of death, however, the president is required to seek the advice of both the attorney general and the minister of justice before issuing a pardon. The president also has the authority to pardon the accomplice to any offense, whether before or after the trial, in exchange for information leading to the conviction of the principal offender.

5.4.6. Penal Institutions and Trends in the Prison Population

All correctional institutions were administered by the Department of Prisons under the Ministry of Justice. In 1980 the department had a reported staff of approximately 4,000 officers and a total of 28 prisons, including conventional prisons, open prison camps, and special training schools for youthful offenders. The facilities were regulated by the Prisons Ordinance of 1878, and each was headed by a superintendent or assistant superintendent of prisons. Departmental staff are trained at the Centre for Research and Training in Corrections in Colombo. The center, which was established in 1975, provided new recruits a ten-week training course in law, human relations, unarmed combat, first aid, and the use of firearms.

Between 1977 and 1985, the prison population remained relatively stable, averaging 11,500 new admissions each year. More than 75 percent of the new inmates in 1985 had been convicted of minor crimes, and 62 percent were serving sentences of less than six months. Those convicted of serious crimes (including murder, culpable homicide, rape, and kidnaping) represented less than 2 percent of the prison population and, although the number of new convicts sentenced to death fluctuated over this period (between 33 and 81), no prisoners were executed. Men represented more than 95 percent of the prison population, and more than one-third of the nation's prisoners were being held in the Colombo District.

In the 1980s, convicted offenders between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two were being housed at separate correctional facilities and open work camps. Many of them were eligible for admission to the Training School for Youthful Offenders, which provided a special program of rehabilitation. Offenders under sixteen were not accepted into the correctional system.

Because of the small number of female prisoners at any one time, in the 1980s there were no separate institutions exclusively for women. Instead, each of the major prisons had a small women's section staffed by female attendants. All female convicts with terms longer than six weeks were transferred to Welikade Prison in Colombo. Mothers with infants were allowed to keep their children in prison, and a preschool program was established to provide child care during daytime hours.

In the 1980s, all male and female prisoners with terms longer than six months received vocational training during their stay in prison. Training was offered in twenty-two trades, including agriculture, animal husbandry, rattan work, carpentry, and tailoring. Every convicted offender was required to work eight hours each day and received a wage calculated according to the level of skill.

Apart from the correctional system maintained by the Department of Prisons, the armed forces and the police have operated a number of detention camps for suspects arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. According to the United States State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, "there have been persistent reports of torture or ill-treatment by military and police" at these camps, and detainees have been deprived of the legal rights and conditions of incarceration that apply to conventional detention facilities.

5.4.7. Drug Abuse and Drug Legislation

Because of the traditionally accepted roles of both opium and hashish in indigenous ayurvedic medicine, the population of Sri Lanka has historically been tolerant of the use of a variety of psychoactive drugs (see Health , ch. 2). As a result, the government has been slow to identify drug abuse as an issue meriting national attention, and until the late 1970s, no efforts were made to quantify the problem. In 1978 the Narcotics Advisory Board of Sri Lanka coordinated the first systematic field investigation of drug abuse. The survey revealed that opium, cannabis, and barbiturates were the drugs most commonly used for nonmedical purposes, and that the majority of drug abusers were under forty years old (for cannabis, 48 percent were between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five). Between 1975 and 1979, an average of 4,000 persons per year were arrested for drug-related offenses, while an additional 3,000 people sought help for drug problems. A 1980 government survey estimated between 3,500 and 5,800 opium dependents and between 16,000 and 18,000 chronic cannabis users. Based on the World Health Organization conversion factor of ten actual drug abusers for every one identified, the government estimated a total usage level as high as 1.5 percent of the population.

The delayed appearance of drug abuse among the issues of national concern is reflected in the state of antidrug legislation. As of 1981, one of the major statutes on the books was the Poisons, Opium, and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance. Although it has been amended several times since its enactment in 1929, the ordinance was seriously outdated for a society in the 1980s. It divides drugs into five categories (poisons; poppy, coca, and hemp; opium; dangerous drugs; and other drugs) and regulates their import, export, and domestic trade. Rather than attempting to define dangerous drugs, the ordinance simply appends a list of forbidden substances, and this has permitted greater flexibility in amending the law to suit changes in society. More recent efforts to regulate drug abuse include the Cosmetics, Devices, and Drugs Act of 1980, which requires companies trading legal drugs to obtain a license from the director of health services. This provision has given an important avenue for the authorities to monitor the import and export of pharmaceuticals. In spite of the government's efforts to eliminate illegal drugs, the strong Buddhist constituency has insisted on the legitimacy of traditional medical practices, and the Ayurvedic Act of 1961 assures ayurvedic physicians of continued legal access to opium. Because drug addiction in Sri Lanka has been far less prevalent than in the West, and because terrorism and insurgency have strained to the utmost the nation's security assets, a concerted campaign on illegal substance abuse is likely to await a return to normal conditions in the country.

5.5. Bibliography

As this chapter goes to press, the security crisis in Sri Lanka is more appropriately the subject of current events than of history; the analyses of scholarly journals are quickly outpaced by happenings in the field. Recent changes in the structure of the nation's legal and military institutions have yet to be reflected in any major monographs, and, as a result, this study has relied to an unusual degree on the piecemeal reportage of daily newspapers and weekly magazines.

The most comprehensive survey of the nation's armed forces appears in a special report by G. Jacobs in the July 1985 issue of Asian Defence Journal. Entitled "Armed Forces of Sri Lanka," the report deals with the strength, organization, training, and equipment of the three armed services and the police, and provides valuable information on the difficulties that the security forces have faced in dealing with the insurgency. For treatment of the Tamil separatist movement, Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam's "The Tamil `Tigers' In Northern Sri Lanka: Origins, Factions, Programmes" (Internationales Asienforum) and Robert Kearney's "Ethnic Conflict and the Tamil Separatist Movement In Sri Lanka" (Asian Survey) provide excellent background material on the origins and organization of the insurgency. Hellmann-Rajanayagam focuses more on the composition and leadership of the individual groups, while Kearney delves into the political environment that gave rise to the movement. S.J. Tambiah's Sri Lanka: Ethnic Fratricide and the Dismantling of Democracy focuses on the anti-Tamil riots of July 1983 and offers insights into the role of the government and the armed forces in intensifying the ethnic conflict. Similar background material on the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna appears in A.C. Alles' Insurgency--1971. The author was himself a member of the Criminal Justice Commissions that investigated the uprising, and his blow-by-blow account, although sometimes excessively detailed, provides a fascinating picture of the rebel group--its ideology, leadership, and the haphazard nature of its attempt to seize power.

The State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices offers an annual update on the treatment of prisoners and the effect of the emergency regulations and antiterrorist provisions on the administration of criminal justice. Information on the nation's prison system appears in the annual proceedings of the Asian and Pacific Conference of Correctional Administrators published by the Australian Institute of Criminology. In his report to the first, third and sixth conferences, the Sri Lankan Commissioner of Prisons, J.P. Delgoda, summarizes the major changes of the previous year and offers information on the structure of the prison administration, the treatment of women and minors, and the vocational training program. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Zu Mahāvamsa, Kapitel 1: Buddhas Besuche in Sri Lanka