Since the existence of the world, mankind has undergone several stages of evolution and developing. People have learnt how to walk, talk, communicate with each other, establish communities with their own culture, religion, and language; people have learnt how to control nations and live together in peace. However, everything in this world comes in balance: good and evil, birth and death, piece and, unfortunately, war. War or conflict may happen both in the family and between nations or inside the community.
Ethnic War or Conflict
Long time ago, ancient tribes were angrily fighting for their territories of living. Sometimes they migrated from one land to another in their searches for better soils and conditions of living. Nowadays, the situation remains the same. The only difference today is that to immigrate to another country, one must have many documents, visas, though the whole process is quite peaceful in most cases. That is why almost all countries nowadays include not only the original nation. In many cases, the half of population is immigrants that have settled there long ago. That means that every country in the world consists of different ethnic groups with different cultures and different mentality; however, each of them thinks that exactly their ethnic group is the original one. Sometimes different ethnic groups have many conflicts that are mostly based exactly on the problem of nationalism. There are many theories about ethnic conflicts, but the main question and the main problem is whether people could solve it in the nearest future or not. It is worthwhile, therefore, to analyze one of the countries where the ethnic conflict is in permanent even during these days.
The Facts about Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is the democratic country which is an island in Indian Ocean, but most people know it as Ceylon. On the one hand, one could think that it is a heaven for tourists due to its ocean, sun, and beaches. On the other hand, Sri Lanka is not one of the safest places in the world, which is all because of the ethnic conflict which has been permanent for many years already. This ethnic war (conflict) began in 1983. It was caused mostly by the peaceful agreement between the governments of India and Sri Lanka. The following facts discover events that happened before the conflict.
Sri Lanka, like many other small countries, was a colony along with India. It was occupied by Portuguese people first, and then, in some time, Sri Lanka along with India were occupied by Dutch and then by British. Moreover, in many years, immigrants from other countries (also from India) were running away to this island too. During these migrations, one can differentiate 3 main ethnic groups that appeared in Sri Lanka: The Sinhala (Sinhalese), which is the major group; Tamils from Sri Lanka, and Indian Tamils who also constituted the ethnic group; and Muslims – the third major ethnic group in Sri Lanka. As one can see, most part of the immigrants is from Asia, especially from the southern part of India. Nowadays, each of these groups has its myths and history about how they inhabit this or that part of the island. Being the major part of the population in Sri Lanka, the Sinhala group occupies also the major part of the seats in the government. Being under the British rule, the representative of the country was chosen from Tamils, and Sinhalese group was not against this certain fact, though everyone knows from the world history how manipulative British colonizers were. British government demanded that despite the representative from Tamils, the official language of the country had to be Sinhala language. The civil war began. Tamils united with criminals and created their own ideological movements that were known as Tamil New Tigers. Similar movement (eelamists) appeared in London too. It was even told that Tamils created their own state. Meanwhile, Tamils also created their own party in the government, which was the opposition – Tamil United Liberation Front. Most of the young people from Tamil ethnic group became militants and created their groups. The special policy existed those days, and its main goals were to practice violence, if it was needed, against politicians, who tried to negotiate with government, and against the police in Colombo. Tamils thought that they would free their country from British rule and Sinhalese, and that the land was only theirs, as they thought. There were many riots, massacres, and innocent deaths during this civil war. Definitely, there is certain connection between these events and India.
Everything is very simple. India has always had its own interests in this conflict. The government of India wanted to expand their country with the territories of Sri Lanka. India has always helped both sides of the conflict, although during the second period of the ethnic war, India supported rebels. Later, with the involvement of Indian government, Act of Peace was signed and the power was agreed to be divided between Tamils and Sinhalese. Moreover, the government of India created the special Peace Force whose main goal was to attend to both ethnic groups actions and to keep peace in the country. However this Act of Peace did not last for long. Later, three Eelam Wars were on the verge of outburst and many more acts of peace. After the global catastrophe, tsunami of 2004, many people in Sri Lanka died, while the poorness became a normal condition of living. However, even this tragedy did not stop the violence in the country and the war between Tamils and Sinhalese.
The Ways of Keeping Peace between two Ethnic Groups in Sri Lanka
First of all, it should not be forgotten that both of these groups are very different in terms of their own culture, language, and mentality. From all these factors, one could make one conclusion – the social perception of both groups is different. It is known that social perception is in very tight relations with social cognition. In essence, Tamils could easily misinterpret the whole situation of this conflict. It was not the Sinhalese who wanted to make only their language official, but it was the British parliament and British rulers who insisted on it. It was the first step that caused the beginning of civil war. The following steps would be necessary then to provide piece:
- The third force should appear on arena. It would be the middle force, maybe even the parliament of India, whom people from both these ethnic groups could believe. This middle force, force of justice, could interpret and make people face the reality and the damage that comes from their actions.
- Both languages should be accepted as the official ones. Both cultures and traditions should be allowed, but not forbidden or humiliated.
- The social perception of both groups is different, but at the same time, the consensus in this situation has to be found. The rights of both Tamils and Sinhalese should be fulfilled and satisfied.
Social perception and social cognition are important factors of living for every nation or ethnic group. That is why, if all these options that were mentioned above were satisfied and involved, there would not have been any conflict in such a beautiful and exotic island like Sri Lanka.