The end of the civil war between the government and Tamil rebels organized in the Liberation tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) reached in 2009, after 26 years of clashes and over 70,000 victims, opened a new political phase and faced the government with the difficult task of pacification and reconstruction of a fabric of civil coexistence that would allow the country to recover stability and security. The conflict ended in a bloody way with a major offensive by the army which in 2008-09 had led to the reconquest of most of the territories in the hands of the rebels. Finally, in 2009 the decisive attack was launched on the LTTE stronghold near Kilinochchi during which, according to UN sources, about 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed. The leader of the Tigers also lost his life, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and subsequently the organization declared its defeat and the end of the armed struggle. In January 2010, the head of state Mahinda Rajapaksa (in office since 2005) obtained a second term with 57.9% of the vote. Its popularity, reinforced by ending the civil war, was also confirmed in the parliamentary elections held the same year, in which the alliance led by Rajapaksa (United people’s freedom alliance, UPFA) won 144 seats out of 225. The government it was, however, the subject of strong criticism – especially internationally – for its refusal to investigate human rights violations committed during the final phase of the civil war. His reluctance in this regard stiffened relations with Western states and India, traditional ally of the government, which has come out in favor of two resolutions of the United Nations Human Rights Council, approved in 2012 and 2013, aimed at shedding light on the deaths of Tamil civilians. The reconciliation process remained largely unfinished and the rights of minorities were often violated. The government also assumed increasingly authoritarian characters also following the constitutional amendment of 2010 which, in addition to having removed the limit of two presidential terms, had strengthened the role of the head of state, invested with the power to appoint the judges of the Supreme Court and of the Court of Appeal, members of the electoral commissions and the Human Rights Commission, as well as finance and police personnel. Re-candidate in the elections of January 2015, Rajapaksa was beaten by his former ally Maithripala Sirisena, former Minister of Health (they obtained respectively 47% and 51% of the votes), who managed to coagulate around his candidacy and his program to relaunch internal democracy both the opposition of the ‘United national front (UNF), is a large group of former UPFA deputies and to have the support of the Tamil community as well as the Hindu and Muslim communities. In the following month of August, the political force of the former president – who aspired to become prime minister – was also defeated by the elections for the renewal of the Parliament: in fact, the UNF won the relative majority of seats (106), whose leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was confirmed in the post of prime minister assumed in January.
The Tamil Tigers and the civil war
Between 1983 and 2009 Sri Lanka was torn apart by a protracted civil war that pitted government forces and the Tigers organization for the liberation of the Eelam Tamil (L tte), or Tamil Tigers. The conflict, which saw alternating phases of struggle, attacks and non-respected truces, caused the death of over 70,000 people, including heads of state and ministers. The presence of the Tamil minority, of Indian origin, which represents about 10% of the population, is a legacy of the colonial period, when the British brought Tamils to the island to work on the tea plantations. Concentrated mainly in the north and east of the island, Tamils feel marginalized in a country with a Buddhist majority, where the wind of Sinhalese nationalism is blowing strongly.
According to A2zcamerablog.com, the Tamil Tigers, created in 1976 by Velupillai Prabhakaran to create an autonomous state in the Eelam Tamil region, exploited the discontent of the ethnic minority to develop a real secessionist guerilla. They also managed to set up their headquarters in Jaffna, in the north of the country. In 1983 the clashes erupted into a civil war, which devastated the country for the next twenty-six years. During the years of the conflict there have been several, albeit unsuccessful, attempts by other states to mediate in order to reach a peace agreement. In particular, in 1987 India, under pressure from the protests of its Tamil community and the flow of refugees, intervened directly in the conflict, sending an interposition force. The Indian mission, Indian Peacekeeeping Force (Ipkf), however, did not achieve any results and, in 1990, the New Delhi government ordered the withdrawal. Following the Indian intervention, the conflict was further exacerbated and the Tamil Tigers carried out attacks of great resonance: in 1991 the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. In 1993, the organization killed then Sri Lankan president Ranasinghe Premadasa. These two assassinations, both carried out by suicide bombers, have made the clash even more gruesome. Although the parties had signed a ceasefire agreement between 2001 and 2005, thanks to the mediation of Norway, the conflict resumed with the rise to power of Rajapaksa, who aimed resolutely at a military solution to the conflict.
In May 2009, the Sinhalese army besieged guerrillas near Kilinochchi, the de facto capital of the Tamil territories. In the final siege, in which the L tte held hostage and also killed many Tamil civilians, many guerrillas lost their lives, including the leader of the Tigers, Prabhakaran himself. Subsequently, the organization admitted defeat and announced the end of the armed struggle. In September 2013, the Tamil National Alliance party (T na), which represents the Tamil minority, won the provincial elections which took place, for the first time in 25 years, in the north of the country. The area, mostly inhabited by the Tamil minority, has been garrisoned by the Sinhalese army since the end of the war in 2009. The issue, however, will not come to full resolution until the Sri Lankan central government agrees to the Tamil minority. much coveted devolution. The new president Sirisena has expressed his intention to proceed in this direction, but the mission will not be easy, given the strong opposition of Sinhalese nationalist groups.